Ten Brinke scores first Dakar Stage win for Toyota
Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Team’s new Dutch driver Bernhard Ten Brinke paid back his team’s faith with a stunning performance to claim a second ever Dakar stage win on the 11th special between Belén and Chilecito in Argentina. His first had been on the short Prologue stage in Argentina in 2016.
Ten Brinke and French co-driver Michel Périn were the fastest of all the car crews through the first section of the special, which featured mixed starts for the first time this year; the leading motorcyclists were intermingled amongst the cars. The Toyota Hilux driver maintained his composure through the closing kilometres, despite punishing heat and treacherous terrain, to win the day’s stage and consolidate fourth in the overall standings. Nasser Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel (who celebrated his birthday today) began the stage 1hr 12min 46sec off the outright lead and ceded a further two minutes by finishing fourth on the first section of the day’s special.
The Qatari finished the special in fifth, 1min 16sec behind Carlos Sainz, and heads into the last three days of the rally, 1hr 14min 02sec behind the leader. South Africa’s Giniel De Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz were seventh through section one in the third Toyota and finished the stage in sixth, but they dropped 11min 57sec to Ten Brinke, maintain fifth overall but now trail their team-mate by 12min 30sec. Tomorrow, the 12th stage of the Dakar passes from Chilecito to San Juan in the baking heat of an Argentine summer. It promises to be another energy-sapping section and includes a daunting special stage of 523km and 270km of liaisons. River crossings, tricky navigation, rocks and some sandy stretches are on the agenda for a special that starts to the west of Chilecito and finishes to the north of San Juan.
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah said: “It was a very broken stage. Maybe we decided to use a little too hard suspension set-up and we had two punctures and two wheels. So we finished the last 80km without taking any risks.”
Giniel de Villiers said: “Going into Fiambalá second on the road is never easy. We tried to limit the damage as much as possible. We lost a few minutes in the vegetation trying to find the right track and were stuck in the camel grass for a short time. Bernhard deserves his stage victory. Congratulations to him. As for us, we will stay in there until the finish.”
Bernhard Ten Brinke said: “After a slow first 20km, we came to the fore and have taken advantage of our good starting position. After nine days of racing together, Michel and I are really moving in the right direction. I was confident with the Toyota, so we pushed hard and caught some of the competitors who started before us. We realised we were doing well. Michel has been fantastic with the navigation but it will not be easy to open the road tomorrow. We’ll do our best.”
Wednesday 17th January / Belen-Chilecito / 280 km of stage
1. Ten Brinke-Perin (Toyota Hilux)
5. Al Attiyah-Baumel (Toyota Hilux) + 5’56’’
6. De Villiers-Von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux) + 11’’57
3. Al Attiyah-Baumel (Toyota Hilux) + 1h14’02’’
4. Ten Brinke-Perin (Toyota Hilux) + 1h17’35’’
5. De Villiers-Von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux) + 1h30’05’’