• Stage 13 triumph for Al-Attiyah/Baumel
• De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz home third
• Retirement for Ten Brinke/Périn
CORDOBA, ARGENTINA – If ever there was a stage on the Dakar that proved what a fickle mistress this event can be, then Stage 13 was it for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA. On the one hand, there was complete elation as Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel won their second stage on the trot.
Then there was huge disappointment as Bernhard ten Brinke and navigator Michel Périn had t retire.
“What a day it’s been for us,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, from the final bivouac in the Argentine city of Cordoba. “Bernard and Michel did an amazing job, and led the stage in the early parts. It looked really promising.”
‘THE ENGINE JUST STOPPED…’
Then came the news that Peugeot’s Stephane Peterhansel had crashed. The multiple Dakar winner lost 57 minutes on the first section of the two-part stage as he waited for team mate Cyril Despres to help repair the stricken car. This promoted all three Toyota Hilux crews up one position, with Ten Brinke powering his way towards a second stage victory.
He said: “Soon after we started the second section of (Friday’s) stage we could hear there was something wrong with the engine then about 60km into the second part of the stage the engine just stopped. We couldn’t restart so had no choice but to retire.
“I’m bitterly disappointed yet extremely proud of what we’ve achieved.”
It was the first engine problem a Toyota SA entry had experienced in a decade of Dakars.
Meanhile, Toyota SA’s Al-Attiyah / Baumel teampowered through the 369km race stage and 560km liaison. Al-Attiyah said later: “We’re extremely happy with the Hilux – all credit to team that built it and prepares it each day We’ve given our all on this event and are very happy to be in second place but still have our eyes on winning.”
‘STILL A BIT OF A RACE ON’
Giniel de Villiers / Dirk von Zitzewitz were third on the stage, 13min06 behind Al-Attiyah. De Villiers said at the bivouac at Cordoba: “It was an extremely long day (14 hours of driving) and the stage was a proper test. We had a fairly good run, though had a misfire in the second part of the stage that cost us quite a bit of time.
“We’re happy to have completed the final long stage but still have to make sure we stay ahead of Peterhansel on Saturday – there’s still a bit of a race on!”
De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz are in third place in the general ranking, 1hr20min behind overall leader Carlos Sainz (Peugeot). More importantly, they are eight minutes ahead of Peugeot’s Peterhansel, in fourth place, so the final stage of the event might still bring a sting in the tail.
Stage 14 is only 120km, mainly rally tracks around Cordoba. There is also a liaison of 166km, but compared to the rest of the race, Stage 14 might have been nothing more than a formality had the race not been quite as close as it is.
…AND THEN THERE’S ROB HOWIE
Team boss Glyn Hall explained: “As things stand, we have Nasser and Mathieu second, and Giniel and Dirk third. We’ll have to see what happens on Saturday yet we can’t help but be pleased with our performance. We’re disappointed that Bernard and Michel won’t finish but to have two cars in the top three after one of the toughest Dakars yet is amazing.”
One other crew to highlight on Stage 13 is the Toyota Hilux pairing of Argentina’s Lucio Alvarez and South African navigator Rob Howie. They lost significant time earlier in the race but posted the second-fastest time on Stage 13, making it a Toyota Hilux 1, 2, 3.
The 2018 Dakar Rally, the 40th, will end tomorrow, January 20, in the Argentine city of Cordoba.
STAGE 13 RESULTS:
1 N Al Attiyah (Toyota) 5hr02min22
3 G De Villiers (Toyota) +13min06
4 J Przygonski (Mini) +15min07
5 M Hirvonen (Mini) +19min24
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 13:
1 C Sainz (Peugeot) 47hr46min30
2 N Al Attiyah (Toyota) +46min18
3 G De Villiers (Toyota) +1hr20min00
4 S Peterhansel (Peugeot) +1hr28min08
5 J Przygonski (Mini) +2hr46min32