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The Bolivian Altiplano Pushes Dakar Competitors to Their Limits: Stage Section Cancelled

When it comes to endurance and focus, combined with driving at high altitudes above 4000 meters, the Bolivian Altiplano proved to be a tough opponent today. The drivers left the bivouac in Tupiza around 8 am and on towards the fifth special stage: a 447 km trek with the finish line in Oruro. The day proved grueling. The trail was unrelenting, competitors got lost, and, due to strong heavy rain, the second section of the special stage was cancelled. Despite all, Toyota was able to carry three 4WD Hilux drivers finishing in the top ten: Nani Roma #305 in 2nd place, Conrad Rautenbach in 6th and Giniel de Villiers #302 in 10th place.

Today’s stage pushed the competitors to their limits: a 447 km course full of surprises, difficult steps and confusion. Varying terrain made today’s battle one of the most demanding. Due to heavy rain, the second section of the special stage was cancelled. It became too dangerous for the competitors, some of them found themselves lost due to navigation becoming impossible, even with digital assistance. TGRSA driver Giniel de Villiers #302, finished in 10th place said: “It was a bad day. The heavy rain made the stage too muddy and slippery. I lost the route. Tomorrow is a new day. I will make the best out it.”

According to TLC (Toyota Land Cruiser) driver Christian Lavieille #327, “many drivers got lost and ended up driving around in the same place”. Overdrive Toyota/Van Loon Racing driver Erik van Loon #310, finished in 11th place, said: “I was relieved the second section of the stage was cancelled, because I felt the first section of the stage already was quite dangerous.”  

Despite the dangers and challenges the competitors had to face today, Toyota shined by completing the stage with three 4WD Hilux within the top ten. Those that finished in Oruro were met with an amazing 10 km long line of fans who cheered their accomplishment, a first for Dakar! Overdrive Toyota driver Nani Roma #305, finished in 2nd place. This clearly showed Roma and his 4WD Hilux are tough enough for the challenge.TLC driver’s Christian Lavieille #327 and Akira Miura #332 are still going strong in the production category with their Toyota Land Cruisers, ranking 1st and 2nd respectively.

Exhaustion is also a challenge

For the second day in a row, the competitors had to conquer a long distance special stage. Although the second section was cancelled, all the competitors shared the same opinion that the stage was an exhausting race day. After four days of hard work, short nights and only a few hours for sleeping, today’s stage added fatigue to the running list of challenges. In a way, Dakar challengers are athletes in their own right. Being extremely committed to their passion, preparation is of very high importance. By participating in the toughest rally in the world, competitors must be in the best physical and mental condition to deal with the extreme measures they have to face, just like their vehicles. Despite all the training and practice, competitors never know how Dakar will test them and must always be ready to adjust and push on to reach the stage finish line.

Awaiting the competitors tomorrow: Special Stage six has been cancelled due to deteriorated course conditions. Competitors will instead run a 216 km alternate route to the next bivouac in La Paz. Greeting them in the city of La Paz will be a warm welcoming parade to celebrate the competitors completing the first half of the Dakar. Competitors will need to seize this opportunity to rest up, get refreshed and ready for the second half of Dakar that awaits.

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