For the first time the competitors saw the Pacific Ocean at the massive Iquique bivouac.
Author: Craig Perronne Photos: Courtesy ASO
Yesterday we theorized that Stephane Peterhansel might have been stalking Nani Roma waiting for the opportune time to strike instead of Roma setting a perfect pace keeping himself out in front of Mr. Dakar. Once again on today’s stage, Peterhansel proved that might be true as he went on the attack and cut even more time out of Nani’s overall lead. Peterhansel drove as hard as possible not only taking the stage win, but also reducing Nani’s overall lead to a scant 12 minutes and 10 seconds.
Stephane Peterhansel went on the attack again taking the stage win and a significant amount of time out of Nani Roma’s overall lead.
“Today it was a great stage for us. We attacked full throttle and tried to follow Nasser,” said Stephane after winning. “We could see his dust all day, but I was never able to catch him. For sure, I am in a good position because I have no pressure because I am not the leader. Now I’m trying to drive as fast as possible. I’m taking real pleasure in it now because I have nothing to lose. At the end I’m second and it’s not my goal to finish second. So I will push and we will see what happens.”
Indeed Roma is starting to feel the pressure and made a slight mistake on today’s rough and dune-filled stage coming in third. “We lost a bit of time at the end because we got stuck on the crest of a dune,” noted Roma. However, Nani is far from done. “We’ll just continue to grit our teeth and fight. We knew it would be difficult and that Stéphane is very good on this type of terrain. I’m ready for everything. Tomorrow it will be Stéphane who will open the road and we’ll be there to attack, which we weren’t able to do today, because we came down hard after a jump at the beginning of the stage, which gave both of us a bad back.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah was on maximum attack as well on today’s stage coming in second.
Nasser Al-Attiyah was once again on the podium taking second with his Monster Energy X-Raid MINI. “It was really very hard. We started as the first car and finished as the first car, but Stéphane followed us and he won the stage,” shared Nasser. “I’m quite happy with the performance. Today the dunes were very hard, very difficult, because there is no road and we tried to be careful with the direction and the waypoints. The MINI is a good car, but we’re still disappointed from the one-hour penalty. We’ll try to keep going now until the finish and we’ll see if we can get onto the podium or not. One hour to lose is not easy because there are a lot of good drivers, but we are still here and we’ll try to enjoy it.”
Robby Gordon had to stop to repair the Gordini costing him valuable time and what would have been a fifth place finish.
The rough nature and dunes of today’s stage favored Robby Gordon and his Gordini and he was hunting MINIs early on. Gordon was running as high as fifth place with little of the stage left and was the first non-MINI on the stage after passing Giniel De Villiers. While the crew had spent most of the night swapping the radiator to front, that move wound up costing Gordon as he reportedly damaged the radiator in the dunes and had to stop to repair it. The downtime would push him back to 28th today.
A bit of bad luck also stuck BJ Baldwin today as he ran off the road and into a ditch while trying to pass. Luckily BJ had scrubbed a lot of speed before running off so the damage was minimal, but he was still stuck for roughly 30 minutes before getting back underway. He still fared better than Gordon for the day coming in 19th for the stage and not pushing him that far back in tomorrow’s starting order.
A truck makes its way down the huge dunes into Iquique.
Tomorrow the Dakar heads for Antofagasta with more dunes awaiting the drivers. Will Peterhansel be able to reel in Nani even further? A battle awaits tomorrow for sure.
Overall Standings As Of Stage 9: 1 300 PETERHANSEL STÉPHANE (FRA) MINI 04h17m53s 2 301 AL-ATTIYAH NASSER (QAT) MINI 04h20m10s +02m17s 3 304 ROMA NANI (ESP) MINI 04h29m29s +11m36s * 4 307 TERRANOVA ORLANDO (ARG) MINI ALL4 04h32m07s +14m14s 5 302 DE VILLIERS GINIEL (ZAF) TOYOTA HILUX 04h40m50s +22m57s 6 322 MALYSZ ADAM (POL) TOYOTA HILUX 04h59m26s +41m33s 7 309 HOLOWCZYC KRZYSZTOF (POL) MINI 05h00m10s +42m17s 8 330 VILLAGRA FEDERICO (ARG) MINI 05h00m57s +43m04s 9 314 VASILYEV VLADIMIR (RUS) MINI 05h02m52s +44m59s 10 328 DABROWSKI MAREK (POL) TOYOTA HILUX 05h03m08s +45m15s