Toyota Hilux 2nd & 3rd on Dakar at half-way stage
DE VILLIERS AND AL-RAJHI GUIDE THEIR TOYOTA HILUXES INTO SECOND AND THIRD OVERALL AT DAKAR RALLY REST DAY
· Sensational eighth stage win for Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Overdrive Racing
· Ten Brinke and Lavieille hold fifth and seventh in Overdrive Racing Toyotas
· Overdrive Racing’s Issabayev and Vanagas in 18th and 22nd overall
· Dabrowski, Bensadoun and Jerie well placed; Toyota Imperial’s Poulter in 17th
· Olholm sustains back injury and retires after fifth stage Dakar accident
IQUIQUE (Chile): Overdrive Racing and Hallspeed-prepared Toyota Hiluxes were enjoying a sensational Dakar Rally and four cars were inside the top seven, as crews reached the traditional rest day in Iquique in northern Chile after eight of the event’s 13 special stages. Toyotas held second, third, fifth and seventh overall.
South African Giniel De Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz dropped 13 seconds to overall leader Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah through the eighth stage from Bolivia to Chile and trail the Qatari by 8min 27sec heading into the final week of the event in their Toyota Imperial South Africa Team Hilux.
“We know Nasser is very quick, so it’s not easy to catch him,” said second-placed De Villiers, who had been running over three minutes ahead of Al-Attiyah after the Bolivian section of the eighth stage. “We will try our best and we will try every day. There are still a few days to go.
“Apart from a problem with the brakes, which forced me to drive 70km with only the front brakes, the first part went well today. We were doing fine in the second half until a helicopter flew quite low and blew fesh-fesh into the air. I couldn’t see a thing and drove 200 metres blind and had a flat tyre after hitting a stone.”
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and German co-driver Timo Gottschalk climbed into the top three with the fourth quickest time on the first Chilean stage into Copiapó. “I found my pace,” said the delighted Saudi. “Even though we had a flat tyre. I think we can still push harder, but I don’t want to make any mistakes. It’s my first Dakar.”
The Saudi consolidated third overall with the second quickest time into Antofagasta and maintained the final podium position into Iquique and across the border into Bolivia. A second quickest time followed on the Bolivian high plateau and a sensational fastest stage time between Uyuni and Iquique ensured the Saudi had a solid hold on third overall at the rest day.
Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke and his Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul found themselves back in fourth overall after a useful first Chilean stage performance. Mechanical issues cost them 10 minutes and two places on the special into Antofagasta, but the Dutchman recovered well and climbed back to fifth in Iquique. A third fastest time on the first section of the Marathon stage in Bolivia was his reward and he retained fifth overall at the rest day, despite dropping over 25 minutes on the special.
Frenchman Christian Lavieille and his 2002 Dakar Rally-winning co-driver Pascal Maimon have enjoyed an excellent Dakar thus far. They were eighth overall through Copiapó and Antofagasta and climbed to seventh before the Marathon stage and retained that position into Iquique.
Leeroy Poulter and fellow South African co-driver Robert Howie enjoyed a topsy-turvy first week of the Dakar in the second of the Toyota Imperial South Africa Hiluxes. Fourteenth overall into Copiapó, they lost over an hour on the next stage and slipped to 18th and further delays on the run north into Iquique saw Poulter enter Bolivia in 21st place after he also incurred a 40-minute time penalty for missing a route waypoint. The South African completed the Marathon stage without serious problems and held 17th at the rest day.
Kazakh Bauyrzhan Issabayev and Russian partner Vladimir Demyanenko completed the first stage through the Chilean desert in 19th overall and then slipped to 21st in Antofagasta. The Kazakh climbed back to 17th in Iquique and reached the rest day in 18th overall.
Lithuanian Benediktas Vanagas and his Belarussian navigator Andrei Rudnitski held 16th in Antofagasta, but technical delays on the last of the Chilean stages into Iquique cost them eight places on the leader board. They reached the rest day in 22nd.
Marek Dabrowski and Mark Powell left Copiapó in 15th overall, but then lost over three hours on the next stage repairing a broken axle and drive shaft. This pushed them down to 40th position, but they recovered five places to hold 35th in Iquique and survived the two sections of the Marathon stage to hold 27th after eight stages.
The Canadian duo of David Bensadoun and Patrick Beaulé have been on a charge since rolling their Toyota in Argentina. Forty-fifth in Copiapó, the French-Canadian duo climbed three places into Antofagasta and reached the Bolivian frontier in 38th. Their Hilux was 35th in Iquique.
Czech driver Peter Jerie and experienced French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter were just outside the top 50 in 51st overall in Copiapó, but they dropped several hours on the fifth stage and began the Marathon crossing into Bolivia from 53rd of the surviving 80 cars. Jerie was 45th in Iquique.
Australian Geoff Olholm and French navigator Edouard Boulanger had been 36th overall into Copiapó and climbed to 35th in Antofagasta, but the Cairns Coconut Resort-backed Toyota Hilux was forced out of the rally after a heavy crash on the stage into Iquique.
Without air conditioning, there was a lot of dust inside the cockpit of the Toyota and the crew had limited visibility following behind a Kamaz truck. When Boulanger called out a double caution in the notes, Olholm was already heading for a dried riverbed and a two-metre drop into a steep bank the other side.
“I saw what was ahead at the last minute and slammed on the brakes to slow our speed by 20km/h, when we launched off the track and slammed straight into the bank and came to a dead stop,” said Olholm, who broke an L1 vertebrae in his back and was evacuated to Iquique for treatment, where he will remain for a few days before leaving for home. “It was like hitting a brick wall.”
“Obviously it was sad to lose Lucio (Alvarez) early on and Geoff with the accident, but the rest of the team are enjoying a superb Dakar so far,” enthused Overdrive Racing team director Jean Marc Fortin.
“Giniel and Yazeed currently occupy two places on the podium and Bernhard and Christian are in superb positions in fifth and seventh. Yazeed has driven an exceptional race so far and it was a great boost for the team to see him win the eighth stage. It has been a long and hard Dakar with many retirements and I am delighted that we still have all but two of our cars in the race.”
Tomorrow (Monday), crews will enjoy a much needed rest day by the Pacific Ocean in Iquique before starting the second half of the Dakar and the run back across high altitude terrain via Calama and into Argentina for the remaining five special stages. The event reaches its conclusion in Buenos Aires on January 17.
2015 Dakar Rally – overall positions at Iquique rest day:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 26hr 41min 15sec
2. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Imperial Hilux 26hr 49min 42sec
3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 26hr 59min 55sec
4. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 27hr 35min 53sec
5. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NED)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 28hr 04min 07sec
6. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Roesegar (NLD) Mini All4Racing 28hr 07min 06sec
7. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Pascal Maimon (FRA) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 28hr 29min 56sec
8. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DXR 28hr 33min 01sec
9. Carlos Sousa (PRT)/Paulo Fuiza (PRT) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer 28hr 48min 28sec
10. Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA) SMG Buggy 29hr 08min 05sec
Other Overdrive/Imperial Toyota crews – overall positions after stage 8:
17. Leeroy Poulter (ZAF)/Robert Howie (ZAF) Toyota Imperial Hilux 31hr 25min 52sec
18. Bauyrzhan Issabayev (KAZ)/Vladimir Demyanenko (RUS) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 31hr 33min 20sec
22. Benediktas Vanagas (LTU)/Andrei Rudnitski (BLR) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 32hr 42min 13sec
27. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Mark Powell (GBR) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 35hr 34min 38sec
34. David Bensadoun (CAN)/Patrick Beaulé (CAN) Toyota Hilux 36hr 47min 30sec
45. Peter Jerie (CZE)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 47hr 34min 21sec