TOUGH DAY! The Toyota Gazoo Racing team had another difficult day at Dakar 2017. Image: QuickPic
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.
The 449 km racing stage started at an altitude near 3000 metres, but later dropped down to 1000m 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.
'Long and demanding'
Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa team principal, Glyn Hall, said from the bivouac at San Juan: “It was an extremely long and demanding stage. 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.”
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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 100km from the end of the first section of the stage robbed them of a better result - and then things got worse.
De Villiers explained: “We suffered another puncture near the end of the stage, and decided to push on regardless. 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.”
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De Villiers managed to restrict his time loss on Stage 10 to 15min20, despite the woes with the punctures. This places him in fifth position overall, some 42min behind fellow Toyota Hilux driver, Nani Roma, in fourth.
One of the toughest
Roma/Bravo had a tough outing on Stage 10, and lost the best part of 31min 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.
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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 292km, and liaisons of 467km. Total distance for the day is 759km, 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.