SALTA, Argentina - Another day on the Dakar, another crossing of the Andes... Wednesday’s (Jan 14) Stage 10 saw the crews move from the dustbowl of Calama in Chile, over the Andes and down to the lush forests of Salta in Argentina.
Along the way they also competed in a testing 358km special stage - one that will remain etched in the memories of Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie for a very long time.
The Toyota Imperial Hilux pair started the day 18th overall and pulled away as the 37th car on the stage (starting positions are determined by the results of the previous stage, not overall rally standings).
'RARE CLEAN RUN'
This placed them behind not only a mass of other competitors in the car categories but also behind five massive racing trucks, which are notoriously difficult to pass.
"We just had one of those rare clean runs on the Dakar," said an elated Poulter from the nearly flooded bivouac at Salta. "We overtook all five trucks and 13 cars on the special - and when we finished we had recorded the fourth-fastest time on the stage.
“That put us in a great starting position for Thursday, just ahead of (team mates) Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz."
While overall rally leader Nasser al-Attiyah (Mini) won the stage with team mate Orlando Terranova second, it was a veritable Toyota armada that followed them home. Fastest of the three was Saudi privateer Yazeed al-Rahji in a sister-car to the two Toyota Imperial Hiluxes - he was 47sec faster through Stage 10 than Poulter/Howie (#327), who in turn pipped De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz (#303) by 18sec.
SEAT BELT WORRIES KEEP GINIEL ON EDGE
Team principal Glyn Hall said after the stage: “It was a good day all round for the team. Leeroy and Rob drove an amazing stage to go fourth-fastest and Giniel and Dirk did enough to keep some pressure on Nasser, despite difficulties of their own."
Difficulties? Yes, they arrived at the start without any problems but when Giniel fastened his racing harness he found one of the locating pins had misaligned. He managed to fasten the belts OK but had a nagging worry about their integrity throughout the stage.
De Villiers himself said: "Today's stage was long and tricky with many traps to catch you out. To take it on while worrying about your own safety just makes it so much harder and I couldn't shake that feeling."
De Villiers' concerns were proved valid when 2014’s Dakar winner and fastest man on Stage 9 on Wednesday, Nani Roma (Mini) crashed out in spectacular fashion. The Spaniard hit an unmarked ditch in the road at high speed, and rolled his race vehicle to destruction.
Both crew members emerged unhurt but it illustrates how even the best in the game can fall foul of the vagaries of the Dakar.
DOUBLE STAGE COMING
Today’s (jAN 15) Stage 10 will be somewhat shorter, though there are still many pit-falls along the way. At 194km, this will be one of the shortest tests on the 2015 Dakar and will see the race move from Salta to Termas Rio Hondo.
This will be Stages 11 of 13 and while the distance may be shorter fatigue may yet play a role. After so many consecutive days of racing there is nobody on the Dakar that isn't tired to the bone.
But then it wouldn't be the Dakar if it were easy.
The day's video is below the results.
Results after the Dakar Rally Stage 10, an 891km (371km timed) run between Calama and Cachi on Wednesday (Jan 15)
1 Al-Attiyah (QUA)/Baumel (FRA) Mini 3hr59min59
2 Terranova (ARG) / Graue (ARG) Mini +01min35
3 Al-Rajhi (SAU) / Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota +03min39
4 Poulter (ZAF) / Howie (ZAF) Toyota +05min06
5 De Villiers (ZAF) / Von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota +04min24
6 Ten Brinke (NLD) / Colsoul (BEL) Toyota +05min21
7 Holowczyc (POL) / Panseri (FRA) Mini +06min01
8 Spataro (ARG) / Lozada (ARG) Renault +07min19
9 Peterhansel (FRA) / Cottret (FRA) Peugeot +07min23
10 Sousa (PRT) / Fiuza (PRT) Mitsubishi +08min18
1 Al-Attiyah (QUA)/Baumel (FRA) Mini 35hr19min37 (Pen 02m00)
2 De Villiers (ZAF) / Von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota +28min22
3 Al-Rajhi (SAU) / Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota +43min08
4 Holowczyc (POL) / Panseri (FRA) Mini +1hr23min42
5 Van Loon (NLD) / Rosegaar (NLD) Mini +2hr51min13 (Pen 40min00)
6 Lavieille (FRA) / Maimon (FRA) Toyota +3hr01min41
7 Vasilyev (RUS) / Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini +3hr12min10
8 Ten Brinke (NLD) / Colsoul (BEL) Toyota +3hr39min28
9 Sousa (PRT) / Fiuza (PRT) Mitsubishi +3hr41min53 (Pen 40min000)
10 Rakhimbayev (KAZ) / Nikolaev (RUS) Mini +3hr59min17 (Pen 00min30)
1 Joan Barreda Bort (ESP/Honda) 4hr07min11
2 Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) 1min39
3 Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) 1min57
4 Toby Price (AUS/KTM) 2min14
5 Paulo Goncalves (POR/Honda) 3min46
6 Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) 6min22
7 Helder Rodrigues (POR/Honda) 6min26
8 Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/KTM) 6min29
9 Ivan Jakes (SVK/KTM) 8min59
10 Hans Vogels (NED/KTM) 10min19
Overall motorcycle standings
1 Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) 38hr13min50
2 Paulo Goncalves (POR/Honda) 7min35
3 Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/KTM) 31min42
4 Toby Price (AUS/KTM) 32min06
5 Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) 45min19
6 David Casteu (FRA/KTM) 1hr41min14
7 Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) 1hr41min40 (penalty 40min00)
8 Laia Sanz Pla-Giribert (ESP/Honda) 2hr05min00
9 Ivan Jakes (SVK/KTM) 2hr25min51
10 Olivier Pain (FRA/Yamaha) 2hr50min11
Stage 10 - Car/Bike - Stage Summary - (Calama... by Dakar