- All three Toyota Hilux race cars at Uyuni unscathed
- Second on stage for De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz
- Third on stage for Al-Attiyah/Baumel
UYUNI, Bolivia – Stage 7 of Dakar 2018 was the marathon stage that’s always part of the event.. this year a 425km test at high altitude run with no overnight service crew, the job being done by the drivers / nvigators.
Sunday’s Stage 8 is taking the race to the Bolivian city of Tupiza.
Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s team principal Glyn Hall told Carman’s Corner from the bivouac at Tupiza: “All three our crews reported largely clean runs on the stage to Uyuni. We’ve been in contact with them and it seems the biggest problem of the day was Bernhard’s (Ten Brinke) wiper motor.”
He and French navigator Michel Périn were seventh on the road for Stage 7 but reached third place in the general rankings after the first six stages which was when the wiper problem occurred.
Ten Brinke reported at Uyuni: “The thick mud on the stage really caused problems for us – we couldn’t clear the windscreen. To make matters worse we were stuck in a ditch for a while because we couldn’t see where we were going.”
They were helped out of their predicament by fellow Toyota Hilux crew Lucio Alvarez / Rob Howie and were soon back on the road. However, their misfortune cost them 31min33 to stage-winner and new rally leader Carlos Sainz (Peugeot).
FIFTH IN GENERAL RANKINGS
They are now fifth place in the general rankings – which had a big shuffle during the day as Peugeot’s Stephané Peterhansel ran into difficulty midway through the stage. The French driver damaged his car’s rear suspension and had to make running repairs which cost him 1hr45min00 and pushed him down to third overall.
Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel were third-fastest time on Stage 7, 14 minutes behind Sainz, but with Peterhansel no longer overall leader the Qatari driver moved up to second overall.
Al-Attiyah after the stage: “It was a pretty good day but we got stuck on some camel grass for a while… then had a puncture. It could have gone better but even so we’re happy to have moved into second.”
‘TOUGHER THAN WE EXPECTED’
Best of the Gazoo crews on Stage 7 were Giniel de Villiers / Dirk von Zitzewitz who posted the second-fastest time, 12min05 behind Sainz. This moved De Villiers into fourth overall but only eight eight seconds behind third-placed Peterhansel.
De Villiers reported: “It was a much tougher stage than we expected but we had a clean run and are happy to have made it safely to Uyuni. We don’t have much to do tonight in terms of prepping the car for Stage 8, which is exactly what we wanted for the marathon stage.”
Stage 8 will takes the crews to the Bolivian city of Tupiza, where they will be reunited with their service crews. The stage is 585km in total – a liaison of 87km and a 498km race over a mix of surfaces made up of 15% sand and nearly 80% gravel tracks.
Hall again: “We’re still racing at well over 4000m so keeping up with the (turbocharged) Peugeots remains a challenge but we saw today that the Dakar still has a lot of bite in it so we’ll just do our best to push whenever we can.”
The 2018 Dakar Rally has now reached its mid-point, with seven of the 14 stages to go. The race will finish in the Argentine city of Cordoba on January 20 2018.
STAGE 7 RESULT
1 C Sainz (Peugeot) 04hr49min26
2 G de Villiers (Tpyota) +12min05
3 N Al Attiyah (Toyota) +14min19
4 J Przygonski (Mini) +20min56
5 M Prokop (Ford) +23min57
6 L Alvarez (Toyota) +28min49
7 B Ten Brinke (Toyota) +31min33
8 S Al Qassimi +39min30
9 B Garafulic (Mini) +54min42
10 P Van Merksteijn +57min21
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 7:
1 C Sainz (Peugeot) 21hr41min38
2 N Al Attiyah (Toyota) +01hr11min29
3 S Peterhansel (Peugeot) +01hr20min46
4 G de Villiers (Toyota) +01hr20min54
5 B Ten Brinke (Toyota) +01hr25min04
6 J Przygonski (Mini) +02hr19min02
7 M Prokop (Ford) +02hr22min39
8 S Al Qassimi (Peugeot) +02hr41min26
9 P. van Merksteijn (Toyota) +04hr23min35
10 L.Alvarez (Toyota) +05hr4min16