dakar rally, Motoring News, motorsport, off-road racing

Dakar – at last! – gets down and dirty after start-day hitches

Toyota crews storms ashore for Argentina 2016
HOVERBOARD – TOYOTA STYLE: ‘Prospecton, we have lift-off!” One of the Toyota Gazoo team cars in, er, full flight in Argentina 2016. Image: Toyota SA

TERMAS DE RÍO HONDO, ARGENTINA – Stage 2 of Dakar 2016 on Monday (Jan 4) was raced between Villa Carlos Paz and Termas de Río Hondo in mostly sunny and hot conditions though was shortened by 134km to avoid a flooded section.

Here’s an edited version of Toyota SA’s report for the day… A shorter version of the days news was published on Carman’s Corner early this morning.

Stage 2 was a stern test for the 110 cars that started the stage – among the South African Toyota Gazoo Racing team’s Giniel de Villiers – a former race winner – and long-time navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz (#301). They finished the stage fourth.

The drive of the day, however, belonged to South African Toyota team mates Leeroy Poulter and navigator Rob Howie who started 23rd after getting caught in a slower competitor’s dust on the prologue. Dakar’s rules send off the top 10 crews at three minute intervals, the next 10 two minutes apart. then the gap is set at one minute so Poulter/Howie’s start put them back into slower competitors’ dust.

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SA Toyota crews storm ashore for 2016 Dakar

“They dug deep, however,” relieved team boss Glyn Hall reported from the bivouac at Termas de Río Hondo, “and overtook a number of slower teams to post a really good stage time. They will start sixth tomorrow (Tuesday).”

Stage 2 was a more frustrating affair forYazeed al-Rajhi and navigator Timo Gottschalk in the third Gazoo Racing Hilux. They started the day 20th and even though they improved significantly on that they were left pondering what could have been had they not been snarled by slower cars early in the stage.

Monday’s stage will be one to forget for previous Dakar winner Nani Roma (Mini) and team mate Orlando Terranova. Each lost significant time in the water and mud but did finish the stage. Carlos Sainz (Peugeot) also lost time and came home more than 11 minutes behind the stage winner.

CLOSE CALL ON A MUD TRAP

De Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz nearly fell foul to the same deep-mud section. De Villiers sent his Hilux up a bank an into a dry field.

The stage was won by multiple WRC champion Sebastien Loeb and navigator Daniel Elena (Peugeot). Team mate Stephane Peterhansel was second, Russian Vladimir Vasilyev (Hilux) third on the day and only 2min28 behind the leader.

De Villiers (fourth) was only 3min31 slower than Loeb – Wednesday’s leg should be extra-interesting. Loeb also leads the overall times. Peterhansel is second and Vasilyev third with five Toyota Hilux bakkies in the top 10 cars.

Hall said later in the evening: “Giniel looked like he was one for a podium finish with 40km to go but a number of warning lights lit lup so he elected to be cautious to the end. We’ll change some parameters tonight – the warnings weren’t serious.”

DAKAR DEBUT FOR REITZ AND MATTHEWS

Other South African crews also made their mark during Stage 2: quad racer Brian Baragwanath was second-fastest on the day. In the car category,

Sean Reitz (Nissan) and Colin Matthews (Century) finally made their Dakar debut – the prologue was stopped before they started on January 2.

Wednesday’s 314km race stage will be from Termas do Río Hondo to the Argentine town of Jujuy at the southern end of the route over undulating terrain with rally-style tight corners followed by a 349km connection stage.

Another 11 stages await competitors as the Dakar continues north to traverse Bolivia before returning to Argentina.

The 2016 race will end on January 16 in the Argentine city of Rosario. The Corner will bring you day-by-day reports. Bookmark us NOW!

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