- Al-Attiyah hits a chassis-smashing hole
- Toyota SA team hits major time problem
- Caravan heading for the high plains
SAN SALVADOR DE JUJUY, Argentina – What started as an exciting battle on Stage 3 with former winners Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing SA) and Stephane Peterhansel (Peugeot) battling on the 364km stage, ended in disappointment when Al-Attiyah ripped off a rear wheel.
He and navigator Mathieu Baumel were at first behind Peterhansel so piled on the pressure to gain a lead of nearly three minutes, the outright lead, and, they hoped, a second stage win. That was when disaster struck…
Their spectacular charge ended instantly when the Hilux’s right rear wheel was torn away as the bakkie hit a deep hole between waypoints seven and eight.
“It had been a fantastic stage,” Al-Attiyah said after reaching the San Salvador de Jujuy bivouac. “Until we damaged the car.
“We were enjoying the race with Peterhansel, very happy to be setting the pace, so it’s very disappointing but the car ran as well as ever. We’re looking forward to challenging for more stage wins as the race continues.”
Toyota SA team mates Giniel de Villiers / Dirk von Zitzewitz also lost time on the stage, though their deficit was 36 minutes; Al-Attiyah/Baumel lost two hours. De Villiers told The Corner in a media release: “We initially lost time with navigation but after we found the correct route we were able to hold our position.
It was reported later on Thursday that Al-Attiyah had withdrawn from the event because the damage to his Toyota Hilux was too severe to fix. He did not in fact even start Thursday’s stage from San Salvador de Jujuy to Tupiza in Bolivia.
“Then we had a fuel-pressure problem near the end of the stage and lost time working through the issue. We got going again and completed the stage.”
Nani Roma posted the best time by a Toyota Hilux on the stage which was won by Peterhansel with Roma eighth and behind the winner.
Next (today, Jan 5) the caravan will temporarily leave Argentina for five days of racing and the rest day in Bolivia. The stage will start in Argentina, cross into Bolivia, and cover a total distance of 521km, climbing further up the high plains of Bolivia to peak at 4000m.
DIRECT FROM THE DAKAR…
Wednesday brought a change of scenery and the first portions of off-terrain rallying but it was the steep climb in altitude with passages above 5000m that would wreak havoc among the competitors.
River-bed crossings, plus fast and winding tracks on the first part of the stage, gave way to a finish on bumpy and trial-like terrain that required drivers to remain watchful and keep their cool to avoid losing out big time on the route to San Salvador de Jujuy.
That, however, didn’t work for Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah. The Qatari’s rally suffered a brutal change in fortunes due to a small crash which ripped off a rear wheel on the second part of the special, robbing him of any chance to win outright in Buenos Aires.
All that’s left is to put on a show for the rest of the rally…
Joan Barreda hit his rivals with a veritable hammer blow on Stage 3. With an all- out attack from the very first kilometre of the special the official HRC rider soon opened up an impressive gap, reaching the first checkpoint with a 20-minute lead over a struggling Toby Price who lost command of the general standings to Barreda.
Sam Sunderland made the most of a tough day to finish 13min29 behind the Spaniard and overtake Paulo Gonçalves in the general standings.
Stéphane Peterhansel pulled off the best performance of the day by winning the race to San Salvador de Jujuy. Carlos Sainz and Sébastien Loeb completed a 1-2-3 for Peugeot on the day’s special and the general standings.
Having lead for a long time, Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah lost out big time, as did his team mate Giniel de Villiers.
Among the quads, Gastón González took his first stage victory and climbed up to second in the general standings behind the leader, the day’s runner-up Ignacio Casale.
Eduard Nikolaev gave Kamaz its first stage win this year, but only by 48sec, over a Tatra driven by Martin Kolomy who consoled himself with the lead in the general standings but with a cushion of only 33sec.
CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 3
Stage 3 result
1 PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FRA) / COTTRET Jean-Paul (FRA), PEUGEOT 3008DKR – 4h18min17
2 SAINZ Carlos (ESP) /CRUZ Lucas (ESP), PEUGEOT 3008DKR +1min54
3 LOEB Sébastien (FRA) / ELENA Daniel (MON), PEUGEOT 3008DKR +3min08
4 HIRVONEN Mikko (FIN) / PERIN Michel (FRA), Mini +3min57
5 DESPRES Cyril (FR) / David CASTERA (FRA), PEUGEOT 3008DKR +7min48
Provisional overall standing after Stage 3
1 LOEB Sébastien (FRA) / ELENA Daniel (MON), PEUGEOT 3008DKR 6h54min56
2 SAINZ Carlos (ESP) /CRUZ Lucas (ESP), PEUGEOT 3008DKR +42sec
3 PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FRA) / COTTRET Jean-Paul (FRA), PEUGEOT 3008DKR +4min18
4 HIRVONEN Mikko (FIN) / PERIN Michel (FRA), Mini +9min38
5 ROMA Nani (ESP) / HARO Bravo (ESP), Toyota Hi-Lux, +13min4