ONLY TWO STAGES LEFT: Toyota' Giniel de Villiers makes his way to Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina. Image: Toyota
TERMAS DE RIO HONDO, Argentina - Stage 11 of the 2015 Dakar Rally was marked by yet another solid performance by the South African Toyota Imperial SA Dakar Team's Giniel de Villiers and his Hilux bakkie.
He posted the third-fastest time on the stage, finishing 39sec behind stage winner and overall rally leader Nasser al-Attiyah and remains second overall but 29min01 back.
ONLY TWO STAGES TO GO
De Villiers said at the town of Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina: "It was a good stage for us, but it was just too short to make up any time on Nasser and, with only two stages to go, we just have to make sure we don't take any risks. At this point we can't catch Nasser on pace - all we can do is consolidate and, with a bit of luck, the win might still come our way."
For Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie, in the second Hilux, it was a frustrating day behind the wheel. They finished ahead of De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz on Stage 10, which meant they started Stage 11 ahead of their team mates on the road.
Poulter said: "This morning Glyn Hall, (team principal) asked us to support Giniel and Dirk. We pulled away ahead of them on the stage but then stopped to let them by. It cost us more than three minutes and even though we had a clean stage after that we still posted only the 16th-fastest time today."
The biggest disappointment of the day saw the demise of Saudi privateer Yazeed Alrahji and German navigator Timo Gottschalk. The pair were in their first Dakar and had not only posted competitive stage times but also won Stage 8. Their South African-built Toyota Hilux race vehicle was identical to those used by De Villiers and Poulter.
Hall said: "Yazeed and Timo were third overall, andlooking good for a podium finish on their first Dakar.
"An electronic problem related to the speed-limiter, used to stop the cars from exceeding the limits imposed by the race organisers, caused irreparable damage to the engine of their race car. We tried very hard to fix it at the roadside but just couldn't get it done. Yazeed had to withdraw."
It was, Toyota said, a heartbreaking end to a stunning campaign by the Saudi. He and his navigator arrived in Argentina at the start of 2015 and proceeded to amaze with their pace and professional approach despite not having driven the Toyota Hilux race vehicle at all before the Dakar. For the two Toyota Imperial Hilux crews the race heads towards its final stages. Stage 12, a 298km stretch, sees crews move from the town of Termas Rio Hondo to Rosario, the start of 2014 Dakar Rally. Before the start of the stage, however, competitors will complete a liaison of 248km, and after the stage they will complete another liaison of 478km.
They were third overall when they retired, behind De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz.
It is a huge trek towards the end and may offer the final opportunity for a change at the top of the leader board.
Results after the Dakar Rally Stage 11 on Thursday Jan 15
Salata to Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina – 520km (19 km timed)
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA/Mini) 1hr53min10sec
2 Orlando Terranova/Bernardo Graue (ARG/ARG/Mini) +27sec
3 Giniel De Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) +39sec
4 Benediktas Vanagas/Andrei Rudnitski (LTU/BLR/Toyota) +40sec
5 Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS/RUS/Mini) +1min16
6 Bernhard Ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul (NED/BEL/Toyota) +2min12
7 Stephane Peterhansel/Jean Paul Cottret (FRA/FRA/Peugeot) +2min16
8 Carlos Sousa/Paulo Fiuza (POR/POR/Mitsubishi) +2min27
9 Christian Lavieille/Pascal Maimon (FRA/FRA/Toyota) +2min40
10 Emiliano Spataro/Benjamin Lozada (ARG/ARG/Renault) +2min47
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA/Mini) 37hr12min47sec (penalty 2min00)
2 Giniel De Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) +29min01
3 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Xavier Panseri (POL/FRA/Mini) +1hr28min4
4 Erik Van Loon/Wouter Rosegaar (NED/NED/Mini) +2hr54min09. (penalty 40min00)
5 Christian Lavieille/Pascal Maimon (FRA/FRA/Toyota) +3hr04min21
6 Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS/RUS/Mini) +3hr13min26
7 Bernhard Ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul (NED/BEL/Toyota) +3hr41min40
8 Carlos Sousa/Paulo Fiuza (POR/POR/Mitsubishi) +3hr44min20 (penalty 40min00)
9 Aidyn Rakhimbayev/Anton Nikolaev (KAZ/RUS/Mini) +4hr03min09. (penalty 30sec)
10 Ronan Chabot/Gilles Pillot (FRA/FRA/Smg) +4hr26min29
Bivouac Marathon to Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina - 523km (357km timed)
1 Joan Barreda Bort (ESP/Honda) 3hr26min33
2 Paulo Goncalves (POR/Honda) +17sec
3 Ivan Jakes (SVK/KTM) +1min35
4 Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) +1min43
5 Toby Price (AUS/KTM) +2min17
6 Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) +2min40
7 Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/KTM) +4min13
8 Helder Rodrigues (POR/Honda) +5min25
9 Alain Duclos (FRA/Sherco TVS) +5min26
10 Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) +5min28
1 Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) 41hr43min03
2 Paulo Goncalves (POR/Honda) +5min12
3 Toby Price (AUS/KTM) +31min43
4 Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/KTM) +33min15
5 Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) +48min07
6 Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) +1hr40min43. (penalty 40min00)
7 David Casteu (FRA/KTM) +1hr46min51
8 Laia Sanz Pla-Giribert (ESP/Honda) +2hr13min20
9 Ivan Jakes (SVK/KTM) +2hr24min46
10 Olivier Pain (FRA/Yamaha) +2hr55min17
Stage 11 - Car/Bike - Stage Summary - (Salta... by Dakar