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Rough Ride in The Mountains, The Dakar Rally Heads Upwards

The Dakar Rally makes a move upwards. However, it’s not a gradual climb that allows competitors to comfortably get used to the change in altitude. On the contrary: the competitors rapidly climbed up from 280 meters in San Miguel de Tucumán to 4895 meters in San Salvador de Jujuy. It was a dramatic and harsh climb causing TGRSA driver Nasser Al-Attiyah in the #301 Hilux trouble. Overdrive Toyota driver Nani Roma #305 Hilux finished in 8th place today. #Dakar2017 #ToyotaDakar2017

Toyota enters a new chapter of not only being a challenger, but also a participant being challenged by the extreme new conditions they have to face. The third special stage was a daunting and exhausting test of 364 km through the mountains. High altitudes therefore limited air alongside scorching heat proved tricky for all vehicles being pushed with less oxygen on tap for the engines.

The course conditions did not offer any ease either. The first section consisted mostly of dunes with a super-fine dust-like sand locally known as “fesh fesh.” However, for Nasser, Nani and Giniel this section went very well. They ended up being 1st, 8th and 9th respectively in this first section of the stage.

The second section was mostly a track full with rocks, which made it very uncomfortable for the drivers. The lack of oxygen due to the high altitude is not only bad for the competitors causing headaches, but for the vehicles too. However TGSRA driver’s Nasser Al Attiya in the #301 Hilux fell into trouble slowing him down greatly due to the terrain ripping the right rear wheel clean off, falling to 28th place at the end of the second section.

Being challengers in the production category, TLC drivers Christian Lavieille #327 and Akira Miura #332, are currently in 1st and 2nd place in their category. Of course it’s still early in the race, so anything can happen however, the Land Cruiser did a great job in getting the TLC drivers across the finish.

Nani, Giniel and Nasser finished the stage with an overall ranking of 8th, 14th and 31st respectively. Nasser lost over two hours due to a wheel being ripped off but was able to finish the stage on 3 wheels and a ballast of rocks to balance vehicle weight. The fact that Nasser was able to cross the finish line is a testament not only to his never-give-up attitude, but also the vehicle’s unwillingness to wave the white flag.

The drivers not only have a mountain to climb but also steep rankings in the coming stages. Awaiting the competitors tomorrow: Toyota will face the next challenge towards Tupiza, 4012 meters high up in the mountains. At around 3500 meters the rally will reach “a cruising altitude” in which competitors will have to navigate for six days. There a few that have already seen dunes at this altitude that will require an expert climbing technique, endurance and clarity in tactics. The co-drivers will have zero time to relax, with quite a number of direction changes in the Bolivian section of the special stage.

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