Argentina and Bolivia Together in Special Stage Number Four

The fourth stage was a unique one by crossing two countries: Argentina and Bolivia. The competitors had to deal with the first section in Argentina out of San Salvador de Jujuy; and the second section in colourful Bolivia towards Tupiza. With the unfortunate outcome of TGRSA driver Nasser Al-Attiyah #301 having to retire from the rally, Giniel de Villiers #302 is striving for the best result. He finished in an amazing 7th place today, leaping forward 7 ranks from stage three.

With a long and difficult special stage of 416 km ahead, a good night’s rest would have been helpful. But in the Dakar Rally nothing comes easy. Yesterday’s stage was tough and demanding. A lot of competitors were facing difficulties due to the super-fine dust-like sand “fesh fesh” and the rocky second section of the stage. Many of them arrived in the bivouac late last night, some of them with serious vehicle problems. Getting all freshed up this morning with a ready-to-go vehicle was a “special stage challenge” on its own.

Today’s special stage four was completely different, mainly because of the 416 km distance and terrain conditions. Dark clouds gathered above the mountains, containing some rain. The track was full of surprises caused by obstacles like rocks, vegetation and quite a number of “rio’s”, or water crossings. As a result the Dakar competitors were facing constant challenges. The first part of the section the competitors had to conquer dunes which were not only very high, but also very soft. Many drivers got stuck yet again, just like in yesterday’s stage.

TGRSA driver Nasser Al-Attiyah #301 was very unlucky yesterday. Unfortunately the car suffered too much damage despite still completing special stage three. Nasser reluctantly retired his Hilux from the event. Teammate Giniel de Villiers #302 didn’t have big problems and drove well today. He rushed up the ranks, finishing in 7th place. Overdrive Toyota driver Nani Roma in #305 also did a great job today by finishing in 3rd place.

Today, stage 4 in the production category, will not be forgotten by TLC driver Akira Miura #332. “For the first time in his career he finished in 1st place”, said team manager Kakutani. Teammate Christian Lavieille #327 finished in 2nd place. Their performance with the Toyota Land Cruiser is putting them in 2nd and 1st place so far in their category. A very good start for Toyota already early in the Dakar Rally.

Awaiting the competitors tomorrow: the Dakar will take up residence on the Bolivian Altiplano, which is the highest elevation after Tibet in the Himalayas. In this fifth stage it is very likely we will see fatigue set in amongst the drivers and their machines. In this context, the large variety of terrain makes this stage highly demanding. In the purest Dakar spirit, the majority of the day will be characterized by two dune sectors that will complicate the final kilometers of the special stage. Expect the coming stage to present new challenges and surprises around every corner. 

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