Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa up against it on Dakar
LEG 4 : AL ATTIYAH AND DE VILLIERS LOSE GROUND
Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa suffered a setback to its challenge for overall honours at the Dakar Rally when Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Giniel de Villiers both lost considerable time on the fourth loop stage through the Peruvian desert around San Juan de Marcona. Al-Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel began the day 7min 43sec off the outright lead in their latest generation Toyota Hilux, but two flat tyres and lost time stuck in the sand for more than 20 minutes on two occasions dropped them from third to fourth position.
They are now 58min 48sec off the overall lead. Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz slipped to eighth after a pair of flat tyres and long delays in two sand holes cost them over an hour and pushed them down to 17th on the day’s stage. Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke and French co-driver Michel Périn brought the third Toyota to the finish in eighth position and now hold fifth in the general classification after their own fair share of problems. After 100km of the day’s stage, the Toyota trio held fourth, fifth and sixth in the rankings, with Ten Brinke leading the way from De Villiers and Al-Attiyah. The Qatari moved ahead of his team-mates in the virtual stage rankings through the second passage control, but both he and De Villiers lost time stuck in the sand soon afterwards.
The duo passed PC3 over 26 and 33 minutes behind the stage leader, although Ten Brinke climbed to fourth and went on to complete the stage in seventh after further delays in the sand for the other two Toyotas. Tomorrow, the route heads inland from the Pacific Coast to Perú’s second city of Arequipa in the Andes mountain range. Cars and trucks will take a separate route to bikes and quads, although all competitors will cross the treacherous sands of Tanaka. The cars will tackle a competitive section of 268km in the sandy wastelands around San Juan de Marcona before a long road section, in a gruelling day’s route of 666km, begins a steady climb from the coast at Camana to Arequipa, overlooked to the north and east by the towering volcanic peaks of Ampato, Chachani and Misti.
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah said: “It was a very bad day for us. Okay, we are here and we finished but we lost a lot of time. We had two flat tyres and then we pushed hard and then we got stuck twice. The tyres were not the problem, but the time was lost when we got stuck.”
Giniel de Villiers said: “Everything that could go wrong went wrong today. All went pretty well until kilometre 120 when we got two punctures within one kilometre. There were a lot more rocks than I expected and I only took two tyres. I expected a lot of sand and dunes, which there were, but only after 120 or 130km. We got the punctures because we were running the pressures a little lower. We cannot inflate and deflate from inside the car like the Peugeots can. So, we had to run low pressures to cross the dunes. The biggest problem was that a tyre came off the rim and then I tried to find a waypoint and got into really soft, bad dunes and fell into a hole.”
Bernhard Ten Brinke said: “Today was a really difficult stage. At the beginning, there were a lot of rocks and we had one puncture. After the puncture, we drove slower until we reached the dunes. Before we reached the dunes, we decided to deflate and we stopped. It was a good decision because we passed the dunes easily. Then we were looking for a waypoint. We went too far and had to go back and we almost got stuck two or three times and we decided to deflate again to 1.1 bar. We were looking for the waypoint for 20 or 25 minutes. After that, we decided to put some air in the tyres again and drive safely to the finish. We are happy with the result for today for us. It was my toughest stage ever!”
Tuesday 9th January / San Juan De Marcona-San Juan De Marcona / 330 km of stage
8. Ten Brinke-Perin (Toyota Hilux) à 42’22’’
11. Al Attiyah-Baumel (Toyota Hilux) à 54’21’’
17. De Villiers-Von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux) à 1h13’40’’
4. Al Attiyah-Baumel (Toyota Hilux) à 58’48’’
5. Ten Brinke-Perin (Toyota Hilux) à 1h10’24’’
8. De Villiers-Von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux) à 1h21’47’’