Tough day for Toyota as Dakar 2017 heads for the final countdown

SAN JUAN, ARGENTINA – It was a long, hot and tough day for Toyota on Dakar 2017, as the crews faced Stage 10 of the iconic race, from Chilecito to San Juan on January 12.

Brian Joss – The 449 km racing stage started at an altitude near 3,000 metres, but later dropped down to 1,000 metres above sea level. This may have suited the Toyota Hilux race vehicles, but problems with navigation cost Nani Roma and Alex Bravo time, while punctures put paid to Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz’ charge.

Giniel de Villiers: tough day at the race. Picture: Quickpic

“It was an extremely long and demanding stage,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, from the bivouac at San Juan. “It started at high altitude, then dropped down much lower. This should have suited our vehicles, but unfortunately we had some problems that held both Giniel and Nani up.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz (#302) initially lost some time due to a small navigational error, and then maintained their position on the road. Unfortunately, a slow puncture starting about 100 km from the end of the first section of the stage robbed them of a better result – and then things got worse.

“We suffered another puncture near the end of the stage, and decided to push on regardless,” explained De Villiers. “But in the end the tyre disintegrated, and we ended up finishing the stage on the wheel rim, it was the right decision as changing a wheel would have taken longer.”

De Villiers managed to restrict his time loss on Stage 10 to 15:20, despite the woes with the punctures. This places him in fifth position overall, some 42 minutes behind fellow Toyota Hilux driver, Nani Roma, in fourth.

Roma/Bravo had a tough outing on Stage 10, and lost the best part of 31 minutes to eventual stage winner Sebastien Loeb (Peugeot) due to a navigational problem between waypoints one and two. Even so, the pair remain in fourth place, and with just two stages to go in Dakar 2017, looks set to finish as the leading Toyota crew.

Dakar 2017 has now well and truly returned to lower altitudes, as well as significantly higher temperatures. Stage 10 was run in temperatures over 40oC, and this trend is set to continue as the crews brave Stage 11, from San Juan to Rio Cuarto. This will be the final stern test of the 2017 edition of the world’s toughest motor race.

The stage comprises a racing section of 292 km, and liaisons of 467 km. Total distance for the day is 759 km, but the racing stage is again split into two parts, with a long liaison in between.

After Stage 11, a single racing stage remains, taking Dakar 2017 to the finish podium in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. This will bring to a close one of the longest and toughest Dakar rallies in the history of the race.

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