Dakar SS6: Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa trio keep the pressure on!
The Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa trio of Bernhard Ten Brinke, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giniel de Villiers kept up the pressure on the leaders by recording the seventh, third and fourth quickest times on the sixth special stage between Arequipa in Perú and La Paz in Bolivia. The trio will now take a well-earned day off and hold third, fourth and fifth in the overall standings after acclimatising well to the change in altitude, as the Dakar route climbed into the Andes mountain range and sandy tracks and dunes were replaced by faster gravel tracks and rockier terrain.
Ten Brinke and his experienced French co-driver Michel Périn belied their lack of experience together in the official team to continue a run of excellent form and head the Toyota Hilux challenge. The Dutchman trails the overall leader by 1hr 20min 41sec with eight stages remaining. Al-Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel began the day 1hr 23min 21sec off the outright lead after a problematic couple of days in the Peruvian sand dunes and the Qatari ceded another 59 seconds on the day’s stage. Giniel de Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz hold fifth position and head into the second week trailing Al-Attiyah by 11min 39sec. After a steady climb out of the night halt in Arequipa, the first section of the special ran for 117km and reached an energy-sapping 4,722 metres above sea level.
Al-Attiyah, De Villiers and Ten Brinke were separated by less than a minute and were classified in a virtual third, fifth and sixth places. Section two ran for 196km, continued after a second liaison and included a run along the shores of Lake Titicaca. The Toyota trio stayed clear of trouble to keep the pressure on the leaders and bring their cars to La Paz unscathed. Tomorrow, competitors will take a much-needed rest in the Bolivian city of La Paz. Toyota Gazoo Team South Africa mechanics will be able to carry out repairs and necessary maintenance to the latest versions of the Toyota Hilux before action resumes in earnest with a further eight timed special stages en route to the finish in Córdoba on January 20th.
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah said: “It was not an easy stage. I was very fast and we couldn’t really achieve what we need. The top speed of the Peugeot is very high and we couldn’t take any risks. But we are here for the rest day and we will see next week. We lose a lot of power with the altitude compared to the turbo-diesel. It was wet, raining and snowing. We need to think not for next week. This is important. This week was not easy. The regulations is really not fair for the 4×4.”
Giniel de Villiers said: “We had a reasonable first week. Unfortunately, we got really badly stuck on day four. But it caught everybody out expect Stéphane. Today was a good day. There is still a long way to go. Six days are done and there are eight days to go, so I think anything could still happen. There are still some very difficult stages to come, like Fiambalá, and we know what happens there. We will keep pushing, try our best and see where we finish up. We still have the Marathon stage. That is where we could make up time. It’s almost 1,000km, but we also need to look after the car. I think the two stages after Uyuni will be more important than the Marathon day. The three Toyotas are in three, four and five and we are quite close to each other. Anything can happen. If you get stuck in Fiambalá, you can lose an hour easily. You never know!”
Bernhard Ten Brinke said: “Today, we start on a new track. It was muddy and a lot of water. The first part was really good and the balance of the car was good. There were a lot of corners and we were climbing in the mountains. For the second part, we were the second car and there were not many tracks, because only Stéphane (Peterhansel) was in front of me. I had to choose a new line because the Peugeots go fast through the water and I need to take a different route. I decided not to push harder and we finished the day in seventh. We lost a couple of minutes on Giniel and Nasser. They drive very well. But I only lose three minutes in 270km and I was second car with no lines in front of me, so this was good. I think we could go to a set-up more for the rally stages. The car was moving a bit too much. Now, P3 on the rest day. Let’s see what next week brings. I did not expect to be P3 and I am sure there are a lot of other people who thought that as well. We did our own job. I am happy.”
Thursday 11th January / Arequipa-La Paz / 313 km of stage
3. Al Attiyah-Baumel (Toyota Hilux) + 5’05’’
4. De Villiers-Von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux) + 5’31’’
7. Ten Brinke-Perin (Toyota Hilux) + 9’31’’
3. Ten Brinke-Perin (Toyota Hilux) + 1h20’41’’
4. Al Attiyah-Baumel (Toyota Hilux) + 1h24’20’’
5. De Villiers-Von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux) + 1h35’59’’
Source : www.dakar.com