ZAGORA, Morocco – Big dunes gave crews racing in the 2015 Rally of Morocco a stern challenge on Day 3 of the five-day event (Wednesday Oct 7) but the two Toyota South Africa Dakar team Hiluxes moved up one position in the overall standings.
The team is using the rally as proving event ahead of January 2016’s Dakar Rally.
Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz were fourth-fastest on the 273km stage which ended near the southern city of Zagora to move up to fifth in the overall standings.
Leeroy Poulter and navigator Rob Howie, sixth-fastest on the stage in their older Hilux, said the day was “a real character-builder” – a mass of dunes described even by veteran De Villiers as “extremely tricky”.
STAGE WIN FOR DAKAR LEGEND
Toyota SA Dakar team boss Glyn Hall told Carman’s Corner from Zagora: “Leeroy and Rob did a great job. They not only kept pace with more modern machines but also made up time!”
Veteran rally driver and Dakar winner Carlos Sainz of Spain (Peugeot) took another win from the stage with a margin of 3min56 over Qatari driver Nasser al-Attiyah (Mini). Finn Miko Hirvonen (Mini) was third so moved up three places to seventh in the standings.
So, after three tough stages, it is Sainz who has a commanding lead of 5min20 over al-Attiyah. Russian Vladimir Vasiliyev (Toyota Hilux) is third. Yazeed al Rajhi (Hilux) dropped one position with De Villiers/Poulter sixth.
Hall said: “We have five Hilux race vehicles in the Top 10, mid-way through the event. While this is already a good result, we have three more hovering just outside the top 10 – so things might get better towards the end.”
DESERT TRACKS THREAT TO NAVIGATION
Today (Thursday Oct 8) will see the rally move to the coastal city of Agadir. Along the way crews will first tackle the 293km Stage 4 before a 348km liaison. The terrain is said to be varied with lots of parallel desert tracks placing a lot of emphasis on navigation.
The Rally of Morocco will end on Friday (October 9) after a 237km stage that will start and end in the coast resort of Agadir.