Hidden rock sinks De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz Hilux team in first Dakar marathon stage
The Dakar is as unpredictable as the harsh environment of the Peruvian desert where it is currently taking place. The log leaders, Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz hit a buried rock, wrecking their Hilux’ sump and had to limp to the next bivouac. This cost them four and a half hours in lost time, and removed them from the top ten positions.
Another surprise was the steady performance of the third team in the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA stable of Nasser Al Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel who propelled themselves to the top of the log after the third stage with the second fastest time for this leg.
Al Attiyah and Baumel finished the 331 km-long stage just 03:26 behind the winners, Stephane Peterhansel and David Castera, in a Mini. It was a stunning performance by the Qatari master, and clearly showed the power of the Hilux in the thick Peruvian sand.
The most consistent performances for the third stage came from three Mini teams, Peterhansel and Castera, Al Rajhi and Gottschalk, and Roma and Haro. The other fairly consistent team is Loeb and Elena in a Peugeot, with the second Hilux team, Ten Brinke and Panseri managing a respectable 7th position for the stage but dropping from second to seventh on the log.
The fourth stage of 351 km was run on Thursday with the fifth stage of 450 km set for Friday, After these two marathon stages the crews get a day’s rest before tackling the last five stage. The Dakar ends in Lima, the Peruvian capital, on 17 January.