Jan 15, 2015
Stage 10: Calama – Salta – liaison, 501km; special, 358km (extended to 371km): total, 859km.
VILLAGRA AND MEMI STAY CLEAR OF TROUBLE AND REMAIN
ON COURSE FOR DAKAR RALLY FINISH IN BUENOS AIRES
The Argentine duo of Federico Villagra and Andrés Memi found a safe and competitive pace in their YPF Competicion Ford Ranger, as the Dakar Rally re-crossed the Andes into Argentina and teams tackled a high-altitude 371km special stage towards Salta on Wednesday.
Villagra was reseeded 29th of the 75 surviving cars to take the treacherous and sinuous route across the Andes and into an extended special stage that had originally been intended just for the motorcycles and quads. The special started on the Salinas Grandes, 3,600 metres above sea level, and finished south-west of San Salvador de Jujuy and north of Cachi.
After sustaining a flat tyre on Tuesday afternoon, the Argentine had incurred a third 40-minute penalty in the Calama bivouac for reportedly missing a route waypoint on the ninth stage and that had demoted the Ford Ranger to 31st overall at the start of the day.
“The stage yesterday was again too complicated,” admitted the Ford Ranger driver before crossing into Argentina. “The navigation was key to go through all the waypoints, but we could not find one, so we lost 40 minutes.”
Villagra began the 10th stage strongly and was running inside the top 20 through the first two waypoints before losing around half an hour before WP3 after around 100km. He eventually finished the special in 44th position and reached the night halt without losing his 31st place in the overall rankings.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah began the special with an overall advantage over Giniel de Villiers of 23min 58sec. He controlled the pace at the front of the field, once Joan Roma had crashed heavily after 193km, and the Qatari won the special to extend his outright advantage to 28min 22sec heading into the remaining three days.
South Racing is looking after Villagra’s on-event logistics and day-to-day management under the directorship of Scott Abraham and his team. Villagra’s Ford Ranger was prepared and developed in South Africa by Neil Woolridge Motorsport.
In addition to Argentine energy company YPF, Villagra’s Dakar programme is being supported by suspension and OEM parts company Fric Rot, Brenson (Dealer Ford), Piamontesa and construction company Natania. OMP, Michelin, Rudy Project and Gold Nutrition have provided technical assistance.
Thursday, January 15, the event heads deeper into northern Argentina from Salta to a new Dakar overnight halt at the small city of Termas de Rio Hondo in the province of Santiago del Estero on the Dulce River. It’s a short day by Dakar standards, with just 194km of competition along many scenic and tree-lined tracks in a day’s route of 520km.
The service area and bivouac will be located adjacent to the Autodrómo Provincial Termas de Rio Hondo, a race circuit that will host the third round of the 2015 MotoGP Championship for the second time on April 19th.
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