Overdrive Racing’s Joan Roma and Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers kept in the hunt for Toyota’s customary podium finish on the Dakar Rally by holding fourth and fifth positions in the overall standings after the 449km special stage between Chilecito and San Juan in Argentina.
Roma and navigator Alex Haro began the day behind the French trio of Sébastien Loeb, Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres.
They dropped further time to their three rivals through the first section of the stage after navigational issues, although the Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux maintained fourth of the 63 cars that started the special. Roma eventually crossed the finish line in a time of 5hr 25min 57sec, which enabled him to consolidate his position in the rankings.
Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz enjoyed a strong stage and took advantage of the problems that befell Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen on section one of the special to move up from sixth to fifth in the overall rankings with the sixth quickest time on the day.
Dakar rookie Rautenbach moves up from 13th to 11th
Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach and his South African co-driver Robert Howie were once again running strongly inside the top 10 through the technical first part of the special in the second of the Toyota Gazoo Hiluxes. The Dakar rookie belied his lack of experience to record the seventh quickest time and move up from 13th to 11th in the rankings after problems befell Mikko Hirvonen and he managed to move in front of Mohammed Abu Issa.
The Dutch crew of Erik van Loon and Wouter Rosegaar recorded the 12th quickest time of 5hr 36min 04sec in the second of the Overdrive Toyotas, while several of their rivals hit trouble, and reached San Juan in an unofficial 15th position, having started the day in 17th.
Alejandro Yacopini and Daniel Merlo began the day in 22nd and were unofficially placed in 19th in the results in San Juan with two of their main rivals still out in the stage.
The Chinese crew of He Zhitao and Kai Zhao survived the rigours of the previous 48 hours in the Boundless Yong Racing Toyota run by Overdrive Racing and began the 10th stage in 37th overall.
TODAY AND TOMORROW
Following the cancellation of the ninth stage between Salta and Chilecito, which would have been the longest day of the entire rally, action resumed with a special stage of 449km and 302km of liaison between Chilecito and San Juan. The stage began to the west of the bivouac and was split into two sections. Warmer temperatures at the bivouac in San Juan were a far cry from the miserable weather conditions that had affected the event for several days in Bolivia and northern Argentina.
The penultimate stage of the Dakar on Friday (tomorrow) features a competitive section of 292km, split into two sections and starting to the south-east of San Juan, and around 467km of liaison between the bivouac and R