|Dakar Rally 2013: Malysz, Olholm, Alvarez and other Toyota on the move.|
The Overdrive Racing duo of Australian Geoff Olholm and British co-driver Jonathon Aston enjoyed a superb day at the helm of the "Cairns Coconut Resort" supported Toyota Hilux.
On the longest special stage on Monday, they recorded the eighth fastest time and climbed from 15th to 12th in the overall standings and can now push on towards the top 10 over the remaining five special stages.
Toyota Imperial South Africa Team driver Giniel de Villiers and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz held the virtual stage lead for long periods and eventually recorded the fifth quickest time.
With Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah losing substantial time on the special, De Villiers now finds himself in second overall, albeit 49:31 minutes behind the defending champion Stéphane Peterhansel.
"Everything was going well until around 100km from the finish when the front brake disc just blew up," said De Villiers. "We had to stop and set off again with almost no brakes and then we had a puncture. It’s a big shame because we were doing well. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But now we are second overall."
Only 106 cars began the longest special of the entire rally - a gruelling 593km passage through northern Argentina to the bivouac at the second city of Cordoba with a neutralised section of around 122km after the first third of the day’s action.
Guerlain Chicherit led the way in his Buggy, but De Villiers held a slender advantage over Joan Roma at the first waypoint, with Overdrive Racing’s Lucio Alvarez running in fourth. Peterhansel, the rally leader, was already 2min 16sec in front of main rival Al-Attiyah on the boulder-strewn special.
After 226km - at the end of the first competitive section - De Villiers was the man to beat and remained in prime position to give Toyota its first Dakar stage win. The South African headed Roma by 42 seconds as crews passed along the neutralisation section to start the second half of the special. Alvarez had been running as high as fourth before passing the checkpoint in 13th. Olholm was a fine eighth.
Peterhansel was running over seven minutes in front of Al-Attiyah and reached the end of the second section and the overnight halt in Cordoba with the second quickest time. His Qatari stopped several times with technical issues and plummeted down the order, as Roma won his second special of the Dakar with a time of 5hrs 36min 28sec and De Villiers was fifth after late brake woes and a flat tyre.
The Argentinean pairing of Alvarez and co-driver Ronnie Graue set the 10thquickest time and climbed from 20 th overall to 16th. "We had a great start to the stage and the times were good," said Lucio.
"Unfortunately we overshot a corner where the engine stalled and a tree went through the windscreen. We were very lucky that neither Ronnie not I were hurt but it meant that we had to run the complete stage with a hole the size of a soccer ball in the windscreen and that, together with two punctures, put us out of the fight for the top five on the stage."
Former ski jump champion Adam Malysz and co-driver Rafal Marton began the day in 17th position and the 16th quickest time ensured that the Polish duo are now classified in 14th. "It was a very long stage but we had no problems other than being stuck behind another competitor for over 70km," said Malysz. "I was happy to reach Carlos Paz and am looking forward to the next stages."
Venezuelans Nunzio Coffaro and Daniel Meneses were classified 19th in their Team Azimut Toyota before the start and a stage time of just under six and a half hours ensured that the South Americans climbed from 20th to 17th, despite falling behind teammates Alvarez and Graue.
2013/01/15 | 12:47 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PERKINS