STAGE 2 – VILLA CARLOS PAZ > SAN JUAN
Stage 2 of the 2015 Dakar was designed to unsettle even the most experienced competitors with 518 kilometres of hostile terrain. Penalised by two minutes for speeding on Stage 1, Nasser Al-Attiyah was determined to show that he was by far and away the fastest on the tracks during a special stage which produced significant gaps at the finish. As on the first stage, the Qatari was battling against his team-mate Orlando Terranova and won thanks to a crash by the Argentinean in the last ten kilometres, which saw him lose twenty-odd minutes. More importantly, Nasser opened up a lead of more than eight minutes over his nearest rival in the general standings, Giniel de Villiers. A second Toyota Hilux squeezed into the day’s top 3 with the fine performance of Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke, who is participating in his third Dakar and now occupies an unexpected provisional third place.
Fourth in San Juan like yesterday at Villa Carlos Paz, Krzysztof Holowczyc still retains hopes of a final podium finish, whilst Carlos Sainz already lags behind the leader by 26’50” behind the wheel of his Peugeot 2008. As for Stéphane Peterhansel, he reached the bivouac with more than one hour to make up on Al-Attiyah, whilst Cyril Despres is even further behind. The day was also difficult for Robby Gordon, who suffered mechanical problems at the beginning of the special, and for the unlucky Nani Roma, who is still in the race but a long, long way from the summit of the race.
STAGE 3 – SAN JUAN > CHILECITO
On day three of the 2015 Dakar, the Monster Energy Rally Raid Team celebrated its second stage win. Argentinean pairing Orlando Terranova and Bernardo “Ronnie” Graue, the winners of stage one, just refused to let yesterday’s multi-time rollover make an impact on their performance and added the second stage win to their tally. The Toyotas of #303 De Villiers and #325 Alrajhi took second and third on the stage ahead of the #304 Peugeot of Sainz and #301 Mini of Al-Attiyah.
After the three stages to date Al-Attiyah holds the overall lead 9hr 21min 26sec, thanks to his smoking run on Stage 2. De Villiers is 5:18 behind in second, while Terranova sits in third 18:05 behind the leader.
Stage two yesterday was a monster of a stage! Geoff and Edouard were in 20th position until the last 30km of the stage when they heard a big bang. They instantly thought they had blown the rear differential! They kept going and were constantly getting bogged and stuck! Found a rear drive shaft broken which they had to change after digging out a tree they were stuck on. They came in 54th at around 7pm. Geoff described the stage as one of the most physical ever. They battled sand and dehydration in 45 degree heat.
Today on stage 3 Geoff started 54th and has battled through the stage to finish an amazing 25th on stage and sit at 47th overall!
#407 Di Lallo / Suzuki
Isuzu Motorsports driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki were making great progress moving up places as they passed through the 13 way-points along Dakar’s longest stage when they encountered a problem 80 kilometres from the end. At the time of writing exact details are not known although it is believed to be a mechanical issue. The difficult territory prohibited the service truck from reaching them to assist, leaving Di Lallo and Suzuki to spend the night under the stars in the Pampa de las Salinas, approximately 160 kilometres from the Dakar Bivouac. The team weren’t able to work on the car to start Stage 3 and their Dakar dream may be on hold.
#26 Toby Price (Moto)
Toby Price is flying the Aussie flag high on his KTM. Finishing 5th on stage two and locking in a rock solid 4th on stage 3, finishing +2:45 behind the stage winner Matthias Walker.
“It was a little bit tricky today (Stage3). We’re still having a little bit of drama with the road-book, bits and pieces with the bearings, the headings and stuff. So, when we get to those sections we’re just cruising and when it‘s pretty easy navigation it’s good. We’re just trying to stay on two wheels and getting to the finishing line, that’s the main goal. I didn’t expect to be at this level straight away, but I know I can ride the bike well as long as the navigation is not extremely difficult we can get through pretty good. We’re just cruising through and trying to make no mistakes, stay on two wheels and make no navigation errors. Hopefully that will be what gets me to the finishing line. That’s my main goal so I’m not too worried about positions and everything at the moment. I’m definitely enjoying my first Dakar and it’s looking good. The first part of the stage for about 120 km was really fast. I enjoy high speed stuff – the faster the better – but when the navigation gets a bit tougher I take my time just so I don’t do another 30 km extra than I should be doing for the day, just to make sure we’re getting through in one piece.
Tomorrow is definitely going to be tough as well. Yesterday was really tough with the heat and the conditions, but tomorrow is going to be tough with navigation. We’re definitely a little bit worried about it, but I guess we’ll just take it as it comes and we’ll try our best. I’m sure somewhere along the way we might make a mistake, but everyone does, so I’ve just got to learn and that’s the way to do it. It’s all good.“
Tomorrow, the Dakar field will hit the road for its first Andes crossing. A 594-kilometre liaison section across the impressive mountains, taking the competitors up to 4,800 metres above sea level, will be followed by a 315-kilometre special stage ending right at the bivouac. And it will be another tough test for everybody as the special stage will feature open, sandy terrain and – during the final 40 kilometres – the dunes of Copiapo.