MUD V. MACHINE: Mini's Orlando Terranova and co-pilot Bernardo Graue, both of Argentina, race through mud instead of sand to win Stage 7 of the 2015 Dakar Rally. SA's Ginielde Villiers is stll second overall. Image: AP / Felipe Dana
UYUNI, Bolivia -The 2015 Dakar Rally may have swopped Chile for Bolivia on Saturday but the change of scenery did not prevent Mini claiming its seventh stage win out of seven.
Argentine driver Orlando Terranova maintained the British brand’s grip on the notoriously gruelling event for his third stage win of 2015 year and fourth overall.
Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed al-Rajhi came in second in a Toyota, almost two-and-a-half minutes behind, to cement his place as third in the overall standings.
MESSAGE ON KILLINGS
Saturday's stage set off from the Chilean city of Iquique and finished in Uyuni at the gateway to the majestic Bolivian salt flats with among the tens of thousands of onlookers Bolivian president Evo Morales.
Morales told AFP he had sent a message to his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, to pay his respects after this week's Islamist killings left 17 dead in France.
"We are very sad and we share the pain of the French people," Morales said.
While Terranova is out of contention for the title, his Mini team mate Nasser al-Attiyah, only seventh on Saturday, held on to his position at the top of the overall standings despite having three minutes shaved off his lead by South African Giniel de Villiers, who crossed the line sixth.
Al-Attiyah, who won the Dakar in 2011, was crippled by altitude sickness during the 321km timed section.
EIGHT-MINUTE LEAD ON DE VILLIERS
"The stage wasn't difficult, it was the altitude," he said. "I had to stop three times to vomit and I had a terrible headache every time we went over a bump. I've lost some time, but it's no big deal. We don't need to push our limits.
"The car is in good condition so we're only going to change the tyres, check a few things and then go get a rest. First I'll see the medical service for a check-up."
He is now 8min14 clear of 2009 winner De Villiers and his South African-built Toyota Hilux bakkie in Toyota, with Al-Rajhi 21min16 behind.
Terranova described Saturday as "really difficult, tough, complicated”.
He added: "...but we've made it. Now we'll try to bring the car to Chile so our crew can take care of it. We're getting better but we need to work hard to avoid mistakes, and in 2016 we'll be stronger."
BACK ACROSS SALT FLATS
With the motorcycle and quad competitors on a rest day, Saturday was the first time cars competing in rally's toughest event had crossed from the Chilean city of Iquique to the world's largest salt flats.
Sunday's Stage 8 will take the cars back to Iquique across the salt flats. Morales told the drivers: "I had no problem crossing it, although I was in a helicopter... we did not see any water.”
Stay with Wheels24 for daily coverage of the 2015 Dakar Rally.
Stage 7 - Car/Truck - Stage Summary - (Iquique... by Dakar
Dakar Rally results on Saturday after Stage 7 from Iquique in Chile to Uyuni in Bolivia (717km stage/321km timed). It was a rest day for motorcycles
1 Orlando Terranova/Bernardo Graue (ARG/ARG/Mini) 3hr31min18
2 Yazeed al-Rajhi/Timo Gttschalk (KSA/GER/Toyota) 2min20
3 Bernhard Ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul (NED/BEL/Toyota) 2min28
4 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Xavier Panseri (POL/FRA/Mini) 2min57
5 Nani Roma/Michel Perin (ESP/FRA/Mini) 4min02
6 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) 6min50
7 Nasser al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA/Mini) 9min48
8 Stephane Peterhansel/Jean Paul Cottret (FRA/FRA/Peugeot) 10min43
9 Robby Gordon/Johnny Campbell (USA/USA/Gordini) 10min48
10 Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS/RUS/Mini) 13min32
Overall (after seven stages)
1 Nasser al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA/Mini) 23hr11min50. (penalty: 2min00)
2 Giniel De Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) 8min14
3 Yazeed al-Rajhi/Timo Gttschalk (KSA/GER/Toyota) 21min16
4 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Xavier Panseri (POL/FRA/Mini) 54min02
5 Bernhard Ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul (NED/BEL/Toyota) 57min03
6 Erik Van Loon/Wouter Rosegaar (NED/NED/Mini) 1h 15min11
7 Christian Lavieille/Pascal Maimon (FRA/FRA/Toyota) 1hr 37min50
8 Stephane Peterhansel/Jean Paul Cottret (FRA/FRA/Peugeot) 1hr 50min36
9 Carlos Sousa/Paulo Fiuza (POR/POR/Mitsubishi) 1hr 58min32
10 Ronan Chabot/Gilles Pillot (FRA/FRA/SMGg) 2hr 10min45