|Dakar Rally 2013: Cancellation may have cost Toyota´s Alvarez stagewin.|
The ASO’s decision to stop the 11th stage of the 2013 Dakar at the first passage control between La Rioja and Fiambalá on Wednesday may well have cost Overdrive Racing’s Lucio Alvarez and Toyota Imperial South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers the chance to record their first stage wins of the event.
Race officials claimed that several normally dry river crossings had experienced heavy rainfall and the decision was taken on safety grounds, with the chaos that ensued on the stage into the rest day in San Miguel de Tucumán last week still firmly in the memory.
Only 96 cars were authorised to take the 256 km liaison from La Rioja to the start of the 219 km special stage that included some tricky navigation before reaching the notorious white dunes after around 73 km en route back to Fiambalá. A six-kilometre link was then scheduled to take teams to the overnight halt near the town.
Robbie Gordon led the way from Alvarez and De Villiers through the first 51km. But De Villiers moved to the front of the field through the fourth waypoint after the dunes and was running a virtual single second in front of Alvarez after over 100km of racing. The weather began to deteriorate as the stage progressed and several river crossings had become hazardous, according to race officials.
A decision was taken to stop the special stage for the cars and the trucks at the first passage control and, even though several cars, including De Villiers, had completed the section and were en route to the finish, Peterhansel, De Villiers, Roma and Gordon were prevented from continuing at a race pace by ASO officials. The decision almost certainly deprived De Villiers or Alvarez of the chance of confirming a first stage win this year for the Toyota Hilux.
Geoff Olholm and British co-driver Jonathon Aston began the day in 11th overall in their Cairns Coconut Resort-supported Toyota Hilux and were just under 19 minutes away from a top 10 placing. They were running in 16th position on the special when the action was stopped.
Former ski jump champion Adam Malysz and co-driver Rafal Marton started the day in 14th overall and were just outside the top 10 in the virtual stage standings when the decision was taken to stop the day’s racing.
The Venezuelan pairing of Nunzio Coffaro and Daniel Meneses were 18th overall at the stage start with the Team Azimut Toyota and had been running as high as seventh overall on the day’s stage before it was stopped.
2013/01/17 | 15:35 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PERKINS