Barely visible in today’s absolutely gorgeous stage is Alain Duclos aboard his Sherco. He would beat all the other bikes to take the Stage 6 win.
Author: Craig Perronne Photos: Craig Perronne and Courtesy ASO
Liason: 269 miles Special: 161 miles
Stephane Peterhansel pushed hard today for the stage win.
The Monster Energy X-raid MINI team once again dominated in Stage 6 sweeping seven of the top ten spots on the route from Tucuman to Salta. Stephane Peterhansel charged through 161 miles of special stages today running flat out and error free to take the victory over fellow teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah. Today’s route was a beautiful one and, with Stephane’s speed, we were surprised he even had time to notice. “Today it was a really nice stage. The first part was like a WRC track, but very nice in landscape. It was close to a national park and was really beautiful,” commented Peterhansel. “On the second special there was a bit more vegetation, but also like a WRC track so navigation was really easy. It was just a pleasure to drive and we tried to drive very fast today. We are third (overall), and for me this is a bad result. The goal is only victory. We will try to push every day, but we know that when we take a risk we can have a crash or something like that. I think we will take the risk to win back time and to get back the position.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah was the second fastest among the MINIs and also took second on the stage.
While Stephane was fast today, he did not cut much into the overall lead of Nani Roma who still holds a commanding lead of thirty minutes and thirty seconds over fellow MINI teammate Orlando Terranova with Peterhansel a further three minutes behind Orlando. All Nani has to do is drive smart and fast to protect his lead and keep other drivers from gaining on his time. In today’s stage he did just that coming in fourth. “It was a nice day and it was like WRC all the time,” said a relaxed Nani at the finish. “At the beginning there was a little bit of mud and water. Anyway, I opened up the throttle today and I am happy to be here. Tomorrow is the rest day and next week we will try to be competitive again.”
Giniel De Villiers broke up MINI’s top five run with his sweet-sounding Toyota Hilux.
With Orlando Terranova coming in second, the only driver to break up MINI’s dominance of the top five was Giniel De Villiers in his Toyota Hilux. Now equipped with a V8, the truck sounds absolutely beautiful and Villiers was on the gas hard in the second special with the nimble little Toyota being well suited to the rally-like stage. “For sure today we had a clean run with no problems,” shared a happy Giniel. “I think the guys in the back will be a little quicker because there is a lot of cleaning and the road is very slippery on the top. I am very happy with the day. We had absolutely no issues and I must thank the guys back at the bivouac.”
The American’s slid a bit down the rankings today with Robby Gordon coming in 21st. While the result wasn’t as spectacular as the previous stage’s third place finish, it also wasn’t as bad as it sounds, as Robby was only 24 minutes off the pace of the stage winner. With the somewhat short stage today, the time gaps between the cars were very tight with only 30 minutes separating the top 25 cars.
Worse off was BJ Baldwin who would come in 60th on today’s stage. He has yet to show up in the bivouac today so we are not sure what problems he faced, but perhaps the vapor lock issues of yesterday’s stage returned. Worst of all for BJ is that today’s finish pushes him back in the starting order for the next stage meaning he will have to pass plenty of cars if he can have a clean run.
In other news, the Brenthel team has finally shown up at the bivouac at Salta and shared that they have had quite an adventure. Peter Hajas and his co-driver were airlifted out after spending over 24 hours in the dunes. Both are thankfully okay, but Hajas somehow lost his passport in the process. On their first attempt to recover the racecar, the Brenthel crew could not locate it and finally gave up once darkness fell. The next day, the crew fanned out on foot and finally located the car a few dunes over. After recharging the batteries and swapping out an alternator, the car is now running and it is a good thing as the team has no trailer. The Brenthel team plans to take in the rest of the rally as spectators.
Marc Coma continues to be a dominant force in this year’s Dakar and cruised to second place in the motos.
Tomorrow is the only rest day of the Dakar Rally, but there will be no rest for the weary crews as all of the top teams completely strip their cars down and do a full prep. Thankfully the extreme temperatures will come down as the rally heads higher in altitude for Stage 7. However, the difficulty will go up as the massive dunes and difficult terrain of Chile still await.
It was a tight fit for some of the bigger trucks in some sections of today’s stage, but the Kamaz was able to bull its way through.
Overall Standings as of Stage 6: 1 300 PETERHANSEL STÉPHANE (FRA) MINI 02h42m58s 2 301 AL-ATTIYAH NASSER (QAT)MINI 02h45m41s +02m43s 3 307 TERRANOVA ORLANDO (ARG) MINI 02h48m18s +05m20s 4 302 DE VILLIERS GINIEL (ZAF)TOYOTA HILUX 02h49m04s +06m06s 5 303 SAINZ CARLOS (ESP) SMG 02h49m29s +06m31s 6 304 ROMA NANI (ESP) MINI 02h49m34s +06m36s 7 314 VASILYEV VLADIMIR (RUS) MINI 02h55m00s +12m02s 8 309 HOLOWCZYC KRZYSZTOF (POL) MINI 02h55m32s +12m34s 9 330 VILLAGRA FEDERICO (ARG) MINI 02h55m51s +12m53s 10 315 LAVIEILLE CHRISTIAN (FRA) HAVAL H8 02h55m59s +13m01s