4x4, Bakkies, dakar rally, Motoring News, motorsport, off-road racing

SA Toyota team takes first Dakar stage

  • Engine-oil fire drama after stage win
  • De Villiers to the rescue with tow
  • That was the short stage – now the real thing
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STAGE 1 WINNER: Nasser Al-Attiah, looking frazzled after his tow by team mate Giniel de Villiers. Image: Quickpic  Toyota SA

RESISTENCIA, Argentina – One of the South African Toyota team’s racing Hilux bakkies has won the short Stage 1 of the 2017 Dakar Rally – but then broke down and had to be towed back to the start in this Paraguayan city.

The 39km stage was won by newcomer to the SA team, Nasser Al-Attiyah – a driver who has won the Dakar twice. This was his 26th stage victory but shortly after the stage ended, the team told The Corner in a media release, his engine caught fire.

The “small” oil fire was quickly extinguished by Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel but they had to be towed back by team mates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz and their racing Hilux.

The latter pair finished fifth overall on the timed stage.

JOSTLING FOR POSITION

The fire was descrbed as “not serious” and Al-Attiyah and is bakkie will be back in action on Day 2. The ace driver said later: “The fire gave us a big scare but in the end all that matters is that we won the stage. We are so happy to give Toyota the first victory of 2017 and hope there’ll be more stage wins”

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Click on the image to enlarge the map.

For De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz the opening stage was an opportunity to jostle for the all-important road position on the coming stages. De Viilier said after the stage and his towing exercise: “I’m very happy with our performance today. The Hilux ran perfectly. Even though it was a short stage it was great to get going.

“Our fifth place puts us in an ideal position on the road for tomorrow’s stage.”

‘PLENTY OF DUST’

Stage 2 will see the Dakar travel from Resistencia to San Miguel de Tucumán, a total distance of 803km with 275km of that a racing stage at an altitude peaking 2500m. The stage will start at 12:05 local time (5.05 SA time) with the first cars expected in the bivouac at 16:20.

WATCH A VIDEO of the 2017 Dakar Rally Stage 1

Toyota Gazoo Toyota team boss Glyn Hall said: “Tuesday will be the firsT proper stage of Dakar 2017. It is long and winding, with plenty of dust – road position will be crucial.

“Thankfully we managed to get Nasser’s car sorted,and Giniel is in the ideal position on the road. Overall, we’re in pretty good shape.”

Closest to Qatari Al-Attiyah at the end of the short stage was the Ford Ranger of Spanish former World Rally championship driver Xevi Pons, 24 seconds behind the stage-winning Toyota. Third was another Toyota driven by Nani Roma.

Carlos Sainz led the Peugeot team home fourth; team mate Sebastien Loeb was sixth, behind De Villiers. Peugeot’s other two works entrants – Cyril Despres and 2016 winner Stephane Peterhansel – were eighth and 12th respectively.

THE BIKES

First home among the bikes over the short timed section was Yamaha privateer Xavier de Soultrait, a Frenchman who won this Baja World Cup title. Sherco’s Juan Pedrero was two seconds slower.

Honda trio Ricky Brabec, Michael Metge and Paulo Goncalves locked out the next three spots, with KTM’s Sam Sunderland sixth – all of them covered by less than a half-second.

 

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