Toyota fights back to top of Dakar leaderboard with another stage win
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah claimed his third stage victory and the Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Team’s fourth on the 12th competitive section of the Dakar Rally, a 523km stage between Chilecito and San Juan in northwestern Argentina. Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel began the day 1hr 24min 02sec behind leader Carlos Sainz after the Spaniard’s time penalty was removed by race stewards and now trail by 1hr 05min 55sec in third overall with two stages remaining before the finish in Córdoba on Saturday.
The two-time event winner’s stage win was the 29th in his Dakar career, despite losing some time with flat tyres on the day’s stage. Bernhard Ten Brinke and French co-driver Michel Périn continued where they left off the previous day to clock the quickest time at the end of the first section of the special, despite being the first crew on the road and having no motorcycle tracks to use as a guide following the cancellation of the stage for the two-wheel competitors.
The Dutchman reached the end of section one 1min 28sec in front of team-mate Al-Attiyah, with De Villiers in fifth place, 2min 22sec adrift. He went on to set the fifth quickest time and maintained fourth in the overall classification. South Africa’s Giniel De Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz finished the longest competitive section of this year’s event in third position and maintained fourth in the rankings after punctures and a shock absorber issue cost them some time. Tomorrow, the penultimate stage of the Dakar heads in an easterly direction across north-central Argentina from San Juan to the country’s second city of Córdoba. A short liaison takes teams to the start of a special of 369km that winds its way through the Pampas de las Salinas, after crossing the dunes of San Juan, and finishes over some of the classic WRC-style roads that have featured in the Rally of Argentina. The stage finishes to the west of Vila Carlos Paz and the reminder of a day’s liaison of 560km takes teams to the bivouac.