SA Toyota crews still with leaders in Morocco rally

ZAGORA, Morocco – South African Toyota drivers Giniel de Villiers and Leeroy Poulter each had a clean run through Stage 2 (Oct 6) of the 2015 Morocco Rally on Tuesday.

Apart from the competition itself, Toyota SA is using the event in North Africa as a shakedown event in preparation for the 2016 Dakar Rally in South America.

Poulter and his navigator Rob Howie lost some time, however, when they stopped to inspect “some worrying noises” coming from the front differential of their older-spec Toyota Hilux.

FAST GRAVEL, BIG DUNES

“Turns out everything was fine,” Poulter said at the end of the 224km stage. “We were worried that we might have lost a driveshaft but we pushed on when we saw all was well – but couldn’t make up all the time we lost.”

Read Day 1 Carman’s Corner race report

Stage 2 was of a mix of fast gravel tracks, soft sand and big dunes – “a perfect training session for January’s Dakar”, Toyota SA told Carman’s Corner. “The conditions clearly suited De Villiers and German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz – they powered their Toyota Hilux to third on the stage.

DEVIL IN THE DUST: One of the Toyota SA Hilux rally bakkies at speed on the 2015 Morocco rallly. Image courtesy Toyota SA
DEVIL IN THE DUST: One of the Toyota SA Hilux rally bakkies at speed on the 2015 Morocco rallly. Image courtesy Toyota SA

“They started the day ninth after a driveshaft failure at the start of yesterday’s (Oct 5) opening stage but pushed hard, bringing the Hilux home third and moving up to sixth in the overall standings.”

De Villiers reported from the bivouac at Zagora: “We managed to make good progress and will sixth tomorrow (Oct 7) which also helps in terms of dust.”

For Poulter the stage started strong as he passed the first checkpoint in fourth but then came the stop to inspect the differential, dropping him down to seventh for the day. The result is that Poulter/Howie lose on position in the overall standings and will start today (Oct 7) seventh.

Stage 2 was won by veteran Carlos Sainz (Peugeot), who moved into the overall lead. Nasser al-Attiytah (Mini) posted the second-fastest time and now trail Sainz by 1min24 in the overall classification.

Yazeed al Rajhi and navigator Timo Gottschalk are still the leading Toyota Hilux, finishing fifth on Tuesday’s stage and dropping to third in the overall standings.

Russia’s Vladimir Vasiliyev (Toyota Hilux) and navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov are now fourth.

FLAT OUT IN MOROCCO: Trees are few and far between in the drier parts of Morocco - so they add relief to photography. Image Courtesty Toyota SA
FLAT OUT IN MOROCCO: Trees are few and far between in the drier parts of Morocco – so they add relief to photography. Image Courtesy Toyota SA

Today’s (Wednesday Oct 7) Stage 3 consists of a 141km liaison followed by 274km of gravel, dirt and dunes.

Two more stages will follow, with the event ending on October 9 in the beautiful coastal resort city of Agadir.

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