Hilux finally wins a Dakar stage but fails to change overall ranking
The three Toyota Hilux teams in the 2018 Dakar in South America have battled to shrink the distances between them and the two leading Peugeot teams but on Tuesday, the South African-built Hilux of driver Bernhard ten Brinke and navigator Michel Périn broke the impasse, winning Stage 11 in a rather spectacular fashion.
The Hilux ended the stage a full 4 minutes and 35 seconds ahead of Cyril Despres, the second in position Peugeot, and 04:40 ahead of race leader, Carlos Sainz, also in a Peugeot.
Stage 11 saw Ten Brinke post the fastest time of everyone in his Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux, with the three Peugeots of Despres, Sainz and Peterhansel filling the next three spots. Al Attiyah/Baumel were 5th-fastest, some 05:56 behind Ten Brinke; while De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz recorded the 6th-fastest time, 11:56 adrift.
“We had a fantastic stage today,” said the victorious driver after nearly 12 hours on the road. “We had a good starting position, which meant we had some tracks to follow throughout the stage. When we caught up with Giniel and Dirk, one of the other Hilux teams, we followed them for a large part of the stage, and this really helped me to see what was coming. In the end, it is a fantastic feeling to win one of the toughest stages on the Dakar, and I’m extremely pleased with the way Michel and I are working together in the car,” said Ten Brinke.
Behind Ten Brinke, teammates Giniel de Villiers and German navigator, Dirk von Zitzewitz, drove a steady stage to maintain their position in the overall standings. The pair briefly got stuck, but their main challenge on Stage 11 was navigation.
“We were the second car into today’s stage, which made it really tricky to find the way,” said De Villiers from the dusty bivouac outside the Argentine town of Chilecito. “Under the circumstances, it was much safer to ease up a little to ensure we didn’t miss any waypoints.”
It was a tough stage for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al Attiyah and navigator Matthieu Baumel. The men in car number 301 battled to find their rhythm throughout the stage, and suffered two punctures. However, they remain positive in terms of the overall standings.
In the general rankings, Peugeot’s Sainz still leads teammate Peterhansel by 50 minutes. The Toyota Gazoo Racing SA armada followed in third, fourth and fifth places, with Al Attiyah/Baumel leading the charge. They are now just two-and-a-half minutes clear of the flying Dutchman, Ten Brinke. De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz are holding steady in fifth place, twelve-and-a-half minutes behind Ten Brinke/Périn.
The Dakar Rally is heading for its final stages. Next up is Stage 12, between the Argentine towns of Chilecito and San Juan. It covers a distance of 523 km of racing distance, with a liaison of 270 km. This brings the total distance for the stage to 793 km, and the total distance covered in Dakar 2018 to date to 7,598 km.
Dakar 2018 comprises 14 racing stages, with the event drawing to a close in the Argentine city of Cordoba this Saturday, 20 January.
Overall standing after Stage 11:
1. C. Sainz (Peugeot) 36:26:27
2. S. Peterhansel (Peugeot) +00:50:45
3. N. Al Attiyah (Toyota) +01:14:02
4. B. Ten Brinke (Toyota) +01:17:35
5. G. De Villiers (Toyota) +01:30:05