Team Land Cruiser in the Production Category held onto 1st and 2nd at the finish line

 

From Sea Level up to 3,700 m …Competitors in the First Stage in BOLIVIA for the Auto Category are Met with Sudden Rain, but the HILUXES Battled Bravely, Finishing 2nd, 3rd and 6th.

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Today competitors in the Auto Category ran in BOLIVIA for the first time. This is also the first time to feature a marathon stage in the Dakar Rally since the venue shifted from Africa to South America. During the marathon stage, competitors cannot count on any team assistance. Vehicle maintenance can only be done by drivers and co-drivers. The one-night, two-day marathon stage is a round trip between IQUIQUE at sea level and UYUNI situated 3,700 m above sea level. Only drivers, co-drivers and machines are allowed to participate. The high altitudes mean less oxygen. This decreases engine power. It also puts a strain on the competitors. The key to victory is driving well in the particularly harsh conditions.

 

The 321-km SS (Special Stage) is a flat high-speed route, so it was enough for the competitors to be heedful of the occasional large potholes in the road. However, when it suddenly started raining, the road became sloppy and slippery. Nevertheless, YAZEED ALRAJHI (#325 YAZEED RACING) held the lead at CP1 (middle check point). He was later overtaken, but still finished the stage in 2nd place. GINIEL DE VILLIERS (#303 IMPERIAL TOYOTA) finished 6th in the stage, but closed the gap with the leader by approximately three minutes in the overall ranking. BERNHARD TEN BRINKE (#315 OVERDRIVE TOYOTA) also had a great outing and finished 3rd in the stage following YAZEED. These three HILUXES suffered no damage so a terrific run can be expected on the return to IQUIQUE.

TEAM LAND CRUISER in the Production Category held onto 1st and 2nd at the finish line, but the machine of JUN MITSUHASHI, 1st overall in the category, suffered some damage. His co-driver, ALAIN GUEHENNEC is endeavoring to make repairs in order for them to return to IQUIQUE safely.

 

The return to IQUIQUE tomorrow follows a different route. The 805 km stage includes a 24-km Liaison Section and a 781-km SS. It will be interesting to see whether machines maintained only by drivers and co-drivers can get back to IQUIQUE safely.