Today’s stage climbed significantly in altitude before dropping down to San Juan, Argentina.
Author: Craig Perronne Photos: Courtesy of ASO
Special Stages: 186 miles Liaison Stages: 183 miles
The American effort lost one team today as Peter Hajas was sadly forced to retire. After encountering lots of problems on Stage 2, Hajas decided to spend the night in its dune section to avoid getting lost or stuck at night. A plan was hatched to start driving at first light and Peter did just that. However, somewhere along the way a navigation error was made and Hajas veered significantly east of the course. It is not clear if he got stuck or had another mechanical problem, but forward progress was halted. The sweeper truck supposedly missed Hajas as he was so far off course that it did not see him. Finally, after being on course for almost 24 hours, another sweeper truck was redirected to Hajas’ satellite beacon. Currently the Brenthel team is trying to figure out how to extract Hajas from the dunes, but unfortunately his rally is over.
In contrast to Hajas’ misfortune was Robby Gordon, who seemed to have cured the Gordini’s fueling issues and roared back to a sixth place finish. Gordon, who knows that he unfortunately can’t erase the last two stages, seemed less than impressed and still somewhat baffled by what has happened so far. “The results are still the results because the standings still stand from Day 1 and Day 2,” commented Robby. “For us we are at the point where we don’t know. One thing I did do, and I don’t want to throw fuel stations under the bus, but I did switch fueling stations today. It seems like we didn’t have a problem. I don’t know if it was the fueling station I was using or the blend of fuel, but that fuel was boiling very easy. Even at low temperatures it was boiling and causing a vapor lock and I would have to bleed the system. I think I bleed the system 10 times. There were eight on the first special and then I finally got tired of bleeding it and had them tow me in. The crazy thing is we drove the thing all the way from Buenos Aires and had no issues. We did 1,100 kilometers on the way to the special, but we went to start it and hit the button nothing happened. We changed the routing of some lines, but also changed fuel supply houses and didn’t have any issues today, which is odd for us. We do all the testing we do and all the preparing we do and we come down and it is a fuel issue.”
Gordon also tore a front brake line today that resulted in him having to stop and bleed the brakes. Considering he was only seven minutes and two seconds off the time of the stage winner, Gordon could have easily won today’s stage making for a dramatic comeback. But, as Gordon says, the first two stages cannot simply be erased.
BJ Baldwin was also running much better with the fueling issues of the last two stages seemingly sorted. However, he did have a strange mechanical issue when a radiator broke on him. Baldwin was able to dump enough Stop Leak into the radiator to have it hold water and keep going. He would finish 47 minutes and 57 seconds behind the leader in 42nd position.
“No fuel issues today, vapor locking issues or fuel pump failures today,” commented Baldwin. “Unfortunately we did break a radiator though. We were having a great day before that. You can only go so fast when you start 90th or whatever it was. We had a lot of fun. I think we passed around 40 cars before we broke. That is always a confidence booster and a lot of fun. The stage today was pretty cool because it was a little rougher and catered more to our cars. It was really rocky in some sections and having the bigger Toyo tires built for rough desert racing helped us a lot,” shared Baldwin.
Stephane Peterhansel had a string of eight flat tires pushing him downward in both overall and stage rankings.
Indeed tires would prove to be an issue for Stephane Peterhansel who had a total of eight punctures on today’s rocky stage. The massive amount of flats pushed Peterhansel out of the overall lead as he lost just over 28 minutes on today stage. It is still an amazing time though when you consider that Peterhansel had to stop to change eight flats and also to get tires from fellow MINIS (each MINI carries three spares). Nani Roma charged to the finish banging through the rough terrain of his Monster Energy X-raid MINI to take first on today’s stage.
Today’s stage win went to Nani Roma in another MINI. The Catalonian ran a flawless stage and navigated perfectly. He was lucky he did because he had the always fast Krzysztof Holowczyc only one minute and seven second behind him in yet another MINI. Tomorrow’s stage should once again prove to be a hard one with a long special stage and lots of rough terrain.
Krzysztof Holowczyc was also fast in his MINI and almost chased down Nani for second.
Overall Standings As of Stage 3 1 304 ROMA NANI (ESP) MINI 02h58m52s 2 309 HOLOWCZYC KRZYSZTOF (POL) MINI 02h59m59s +01m07s 3 323 POULTER LEEROY (ZAF) TOYOTA HILUX 03h02m11s +03m19s 4 307 TERRANOVA ORLANDO (ARG) MINI 03h03m46s +04m54s 5 320 CHICHERIT GUERLAIN (FRA) 03h05m44s +06m52s 6 305 GORDON ROBBY (USA) HUMMER HST 03h05m54s +07m02s 7 301 AL-ATTIYAH NASSER (QAT) MINI 03h09m01s +10m09s 8 326 WEVERS ERIK (NLD) HRX FORD 03h09m31s +10m39s 9 330 VILLAGRA FEDERICO (ARG) MINI 03h09m46s +10m54s 10 325 VAN LOON ERIK (NLD) FORD HRX 03h09m53s +11m01s