It was a day of mixed results for Toyota Gazoo Racing, on Stage 10 of Dakar 2018. The stage consisted of 373 km of racing, split into two sections, with a massive 424 km liaison preceding the stage. It was a return to lower altitudes for the Dakar, but at the same time it was a return to the soft sand and camel grass that is synonymous with the town where the stage ended: Belen.
It was a very good day in the saddle for Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz, who started Stage 10 as the 8th car on the road. Despite De Villiers suffering from an upset stomach early in the stage, the pair powered through to post the second-fastest time of the day, just 08:47 behind stage-winner Stephane Peterhansel (Peugeot).
“It was really tough out there today,” said De Villiers from the bivouac at Belen.
“The dunes in this area are extremely tricky, and the camel grass makes it even worse. It is also extremely tough on the body, and we’re glad to have made it safely to Belen.”
Things didn’t go quite as smoothly for Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke, paired with French navigator Michel Périn. The duo initially lost time when they got stuck on a dune in the early part of the stage, and lost even more after suffering a puncture in a river bed. Even so, Ten Brinke posted the fifth-fastest time on the stage.
“Belen is never an easy stage, and today was no exception. The navigation was also very tricky, but Michel did a perfect job. We certainly lost some time to the Peugeots, but at this stage of the game we’re happy to be here, and still be in touch with the podium,” he said after the stage.
For Nasser Al Attiytah and Mathieu Baumel, Stage 10 was one to forget. The pair started strong, and was running just two minutes behind Peterhansel for most of the stage. But then, in the second part of the stage, things went wrong for them.
“We were going along at a good pace, when suddenly the left rear suspension of our car partially collapsed. I wasn’t immediately sure what cause it, but when we reached the bivouac the technical crew found we had made impact with a rock somewhere, which caused the damage,” explained the Qatari driver.
Limping home with the damaged suspension cost Al Attiyah/Baumel nearly thirty minutes on the day, and they lost one position in the general ranking as a result.
This means that Carlos Sainz still leads the rally for Peugeot, with teammate Peterhansel in second place. Al Attiyah is now in third, with Bernhard ten Brinke in fourth place – just 33 seconds ahead of teammate De Villiers.
“We have every reason to be happy with the new Toyota Hilux,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, after the stage. “The car has been rock solid so far, but unfortunately some tough dunes and tricky navigation cost us a lot of time early on. All we can do now is to keep pushing, and see where we end up in four days’ time.”
One of the Dakar Rally’s most feared stages is up next, and is sure to keep the pressure on all the top crews. Stage 11 stretches between Belen and Chilecito via the feared dunes of Fiambalá – the scene of many upsets in previous Dakar rallies. The stage is 280 km in length, with 467 km of liaison distance bringing the total for the day to 747 km.
“To make things even more interesting, Stage 11 is run as the Super Fiambalá, which sees the top ten crews go off at the same time,” concluded Hall. “If nothing else, it’s sure to make for exciting viewing.”
The 2018 edition of the Dakar Rally celebrates the 40th anniversary of the world’s toughest automotive race. So far this year’s race has covered 6,058 km over 10 stages in three South American countries. The event finishes in the Argentine city of Cordoba on Saturday 0 January.
STAGE 10 RESULTS:
1 S. Peterhansel (Peugeot) 04:43:46
2 G. De Villiers (TOYOTA) +08:46
3 C. Sainz (Peugeot) +13:07
4 S. Al Qassimi (Buggy) +19:11
5 B. Ten Brinke (TOYOTA) +22:22
9 N. Al Attiyah (TOYOTA) +29:16
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 10:
1 C. Sainz (Peugeot) 32:10:53
2 S. Peterhansel (Peugeot) +00:50:35
3 N. Al Attiyah (TOYOTA) +01:12:46
4 B. Ten Brinke (TOYOTA) +01:22:15
5 G. De Villiers (TOYOTA) +01:22:48