SA Toyotas still in running with 2 days to go

Punctures slow De Villiers on Stage 10
Roma holds on to fifth through tough day
Peterhansel, biker crash in riverbed maze

Roma Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic
BATTLING ON: Nani Roma and Alex Bravo fought hard on Stage 10 of the 2017 Dakar on Thursday after two days of hell in their South African Toyota Hilux that included a mudslide to hold on to fifth in the overall standings. Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic

SAN JUAN, Argentina – It was a long, hot and tough day for Toyota as the crews took on Stage 10 of the 2017 Dakar Rally race, from Chilecito to San Juan.

The 449km racing stage started at an altitude close to 3000m but later dropped down to 1000m which may have suited the remaining South African Toyota Hilux race vehicles but navigation problems cost Nani Roma and Alex Bravo time.

Tthe remaining SA team, Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz’, found their attempt to regain a place among the top three halted by punctures.

Roma Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic
TRYING TO CATCH UP: SA’s Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz pummel the gravel in their Gazoo Hilux. Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team boss Glyn Hall told The Corner in a media release sent from the bivouac at San Juan: “It was an extremely long and demanding stage. It started at high altitude, then dropped much lower which should have suited our vehicles.

“Unfortunately we had some problems that slowed both Giniel and Nani.”

FLATS FOR GINIEL

De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz (#302) initially lost time through a small navigation error but maintained their position on the road. Then a slow puncture starting about 100km from the end of the first section of the stage robbed them of a better result – and then things got worse.

WATCH more about Stage 10

De Villiers said: “We had another puncture near the end of the stage but decided to push on regardless. In the end the tyre disintegrated and we ended up finishing the stage on the wheel rim.

“Still, it was the right decision – changing the wheel would have taken longer.”

De Villiers nevertheless held his time loss on Stage 10 to 15min20. That puts him and Von Zitzewitz fifth overall but a hefty 42 minutes behind fourth-placed fellow Hilux driver Roma.

READ MORE 2017 Dakar features on Carman’s Corner

Roma/Bravo had a tough outing, losing 31 minutes to eventual stage winner Sebastien Loeb (Peugeot) due to a navigation error between waypoints one and two. Even so, they held their fourth place.

With only two stages to go Roma looks set to finish as the leading Toyota driver.


TOP CLASSIFICATION – LEG 10:
1 PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FRA) / COTTRET J-P. (FRA), Peugeot 3008DKR, 4hr47min00
2 LOEB Sébastien (FRA) / ELENA Daniel (MON) Peugeot 3008DKR +7min28
3 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) / David CASTERA (FRA) Peugeot 3008DKR +10min01
4 AL RAHJI Yazeed (SAU) / GOTTSCHALK Timo (GER) Mini +1min03
5 TERRANOVA Orlando (ARG) / SCHULZ Andreas Mini +20min12

PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER LEG 10:
1 PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FRA) / COTTRET J-P. (FRA) Peugeot 3008DKR 24hr58min43
2 LOEB Sébastien (FRA) / ELENA Daniel (MON) Peugeot 3008DKR +5min50
3 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) / David CASTERA (FRA) PEUGEOT 3008DKR +25min40
4 ROMA Nani (ESP) / HARO Bravo (ESP), Toyota Hilux +1hr00min55
5 DE VILLIERS Giniel (ZAF) / VON ZITZEWITZ Dirk (ZAF) Toyota Hilux +1hr42min54


2017 DAKAR STAGE 10 Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic
2017 DAKAR STAGE 10 Image: Toyota SA / Quickpic

Stéphane Peterhansel (Peugeot 3008DKR #300) told The Corner in a media release after the stage: “It was tough today. The navigation was very difficult and everybody kept getting lost in the maze of dry river beds. At one point, we were lost, and so was a biker who we came across travelling in the opposite direction.

RIVER BEDS A PROBLEM: Stephane Peterhansel and his Peugeot tangled with a biker in a maze of tracks. Image: Dakar
RIVER BEDS A PROBLEM: Stephane Peterhansel and his Peugeot tangled with a biker in a maze of tracks. Image: Dakar

“He just appeared from behind a bush and I instantly braked as hard as I could. He did too, but in doing so he fell and we collided with him and he ended up underneath the car.

“We got out and saw that he was conscious but he appeared to have a broken leg. We stayed with him until the arrival of the medical helicopter. Once we got going again we had trouble focusing and finding a decent pace.

“We didn’t lose our way as much as others and we ended up having a good run. The time we spent with the motorcyclist was taken into account at the finish and we were eventually accredited with the fastest time.

“We’re back in the lead now, so that’s a welcome development with only two more days to go.”

LAST REAL TEST COMING UP

Dakar 2017 is now back closer to sea level – but that means much higher temperatures. Stage 10 was run mostly in temperatures above 40C, which will continue as the crews head into Stage 11 today (Friday) from San Juan to Rio Cuarto.

This will be the last real test of the 2017 running of the world’s toughest motor race with a racing section of 292km and liaisons totalling 467km, making the total distance for the day 759km.

THE END, AS THEY SAY, IS NIGH

Racing will be split into two sections with a long liaison between them.

After that only one racing stage will remain, taking Dakar 2017 to the finish in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, to end one of the longest and toughest Dakar rallies in the history of the race.

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