– As de Villiers is third fastest into Uyuni
Overdrive Racing’s Joan Roma and Alex Haro resumed their challenge for a first ever Dakar Rally victory for the Toyota brand by moving up to third overall on the shortened 161km special stage between La Paz and Uyuni in Bolivia on Monday.
Running with support from Monster Energy, Power Electronics and Air Europa, Roma began the special from second position on the road behind Frenchman Sébastien Loeb and reached the amended finish in fifth place after dropping five minutes on the track.
The Spaniard now trails the rally-leading Stéphane Peterhansel by 11min 07sec heading into the second half of the Marathon stage, but he was able to move ahead of Cyril Despres and claim the final provisional podium position. Peterhansel extended his advantage over Loeb to 1min 57sec at the top of the leader board.
The special featured a lot of sandy sections, dunes and tricky navigation at the start and mud and large water splashes towards the finish.
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s De Villiers moves up two places to sixth
Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz were classified in eighth overall at the start of the day and are still targeting the top five in their Hilux. They were in impressive form and the third quickest time enabled them to gain several minutes on rivals Orlando Terranova and Jakub Przygonski and dispose of the Argentinean and the Pole to snatch sixth place.
Conrad Rautenbach and co-driver Robert Howie were 15th overall at the start of the day in a second Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota and continued their run of good form with a solid stage performance to climb a position to 14th in the general classification.
The Dutch crew of Erik van Loon and Wouter Rosegaar continued their measured push towards the Dakar finish in Buenos Aires and the 13th quickest time enabled Van Loon to retain his 19th place.
Alejandro Yacopini and Daniel Merlo began the second half of the event just one position outside the top 20 in their Overdrive Racing Toyota. They were 19th on the day and maintained 21st.
Time penalties lifted for Overdrive’s He Zhitao
He Zhitao and Kai Zhao had incurred too many penalties on the first half of the event into La Paz and Overdrive Racing had questioned the amount imposed that had dropped the Chinese crew to 50th overall. Their enquiry was upheld and the sixth Toyota running under the Boundless Yong Team banner started the seventh stage in 37th overall with over 10 hours of penalties removed from their total. They completed the stage in 3hr 16min 19sec to remain well on course to finish the rally.
TODAY AND TOMORROW
Rally officials were forced to devise a completely new competitive route for stages seven and eight and a new road book was finalised and distributed at the rest day in La Paz. The intended stage of 322km across the Altiplano was shortened to just 161km to finish at the original WP4 and the sandier special was sandwiched between a pair of liaison sections of 400km and 240km into the overnight bivouac in Uyuni. This was a Marathon stage without service assistance for crews at the night halt.
The second section across the border into Salta in Argentina was also revised and crews would receive more details at the evening’s briefing in Uyuni. The original stage would have been a mammoth 492km in a route of 892km, but substantial revisions were expected to be announced, as the route headed across the frontier where lower altitudes and warmer temperatures would be prevalent.
2017 Dakar Rally SS7 result (top 6 only):
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR, 1hr 54min 08sec
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR, 1hr 54min 56sec
3. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Gazoo Hilux, 1hr 57min 41sec
4. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Michel Périn (FRA) John Cooper Works Rally Mini, 1hr 59min 11sec
5. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 1hr 59min 40sec
6. Khaled Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Pascal Maimon (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DKR, 2hr 01min 17sec…
2017 Dakar Rally overall standings after SS7:
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR, 15hr 57min 06sec
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MCO) Peugeot 3008 DKR, 15hr 59min 03sec
3. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 16hr 08min 13sec
4. Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR, 16hr 11min 07sec
5. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Michel Périn (FRA) John Cooper Works Rally Mini, 16hr 44min 30sec
6. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Gazoo Hilux, 17hr 08min 50sec
7. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) John Cooper Works Rally Mini, 17hr 13min 12sec
8. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) John Cooper Works Rally Mini, 17hr 15min 08sec
14. Conrad Rautenbach (ZWE)/Robert Howie (ZAF) Toyota Gazoo Hilux, 19hr 32min 34sec
19. Erik van Loon (NED)/Wouter Rosegaar (NED) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 20hr 33min 01sec
21. Alejandro Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Merlo (ARG) Toyota Hliux Overdrive, 21hr 28min 22sec
36. He Zhitao (CHN)/Kai Zhao (CHN) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 33hr 38min 21sec