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Paraguay and Dakar 2017: A Rough Acquaintance

Dakar 2017 has begun. The 38.96km special stage raced from Asunción to Resistencia, allowing the competitors to meet with Paraguay for the first time. For Toyota the acquaintance was a rough one. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa (TGRSA) driver Nasser Al-Attiyah in #301 finished in 1st place today. Unfortunately the car faced an unpleasant surprise when problems struck and had to stop during the liaison route. #Dakar2017 #ToyotaDakar2017.

The weather conditions seemed perfect: blue sky and brilliant sun light. At this point it was not the distance that preoccupied the drivers, but the difficult conditions. Dust, rocks, water hazards, holes and bumps everywhere combined with scorching heat over of 40 degrees, turned the first stage into a fierce Paraguayan challenge and a rough first acquaintance with the 5th South American country the Dakar has visited. For Toyota, today’s result brings immediate tension to the opening days of the competition. This is the “real deal” for the competitors, especially when the race turns out to be different than expected. For the public this is what the Dakar Rally is all about. 

All competitors have to be aware that one error on the technical tracks and the trail-style sections early on could be costly. The following days starting positions will also have its importance for the top contenders. TGRSA Nasser Al-Attiyah reached the finish line in 1st place today. Within just two minutes behind Al-Attiyah were fourteen other competitors, this will be a tight race indeed. However about 10 km before the finish of the special stage, the car faced problems. The engine came to a stop during the liaison route. TGRSA driver Giniel de Villiers in # 302 and Conrad Rautenbach brought the car back to the bivouac. Their mechanics were able to repair the car for the next stage. Despite the problem his team mate was facing, Giniel de Villiers said: “It was no problem today.” Even though the vehicle experience problems, the strong teamwork displayed by TGRSA demonstrates the promise of this year’s rally.

In the production category, Team Land Cruiser (TLC) driver Akira Miura in #332 said it was not easy today because there were many holes and stones during the Special Stage. He drove without risk and finished just after Xavier Foj, in #331. He will aim to overtake his rival in the Land Cruiser tomorrow.

Awaiting for tomorrow: the regulars may believe that they know Argentina, but they have yet to encounter the “Chaco.” A region chalk-full of history for connoisseurs of world rally competition, patience and a cool head will be invaluable assets. Especially when it comes to the dust. Unless, of course, this will turn to mud. An exciting stage for Toyota.

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