Another Peugeot 1-2-3 as rivals falter
Tuesday’s fourth day of Dakar 2018 proved a dramatic one with key competitors running into trouble on several fronts. The stage that started with a spectacular beach getaway in waves of 15 bikes and four cars starting side by side and blasting up the long sandy strand before veering into the foothills of the Andes around Peruvian port San Juan de Marcona, has fundamentally changed the face of the race.
Peugeot trio, WRC champions stage winner Frenchman Sebastien Loeb and Spaniard Carlos Sainz, and another French driver, Mr. Dakar, Stephane Peterhansel may well have written another dominant 1-2-3 into the record books, but teammate Cyril Despres was stuck in the desert with his Peugeot’s rear suspension disgorged and waiting for service. No sooner had Despres stopped when Toyota duo Nasser Al Attiyah and SA star Giniel de Villiers ran into trouble with both Hiluxes stopped on the route with Attiyah losing 54 minutes and Giniel 1 hour 15 minutes.
That left the way open for Mikko Hirvonen to take a welcome fourth for Mini ahead of the surprise of the day, Italian Eugenio Amos in his 2WD buggy, Sheik Al Qassimi’s privateer Peugeot, Lucio Alvares and SA navigator Rob Howie’s Hilux and the leading Gazoo Toyota Hilux of Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke.
Peterhansel now leads Loeb and Sainz overall, with Al Attiyah fourth ahead of Ten Brinke, Amos, Al Qassini and de Villiers sti in 8th in spite of his troubles today. With Mini’s attack obliterated and the sharp end of the Toyota effort now hobbled, it seems the Peugeots now just need to keep on trucking as they are to post what would be an historic hat trick. But this is the Dakar, there are ten days left to race and anything can happen…
Away from the madness up front, South African privateers Hennie de Klerk and Gerhard Schutte kept to their promise of delivering a consistent Dakar drive Tuesday, keeping the TreasuryOne Amarok going strong to run 30th at a point, but the crew found the extreme challenges of the final sector a challenge. Still they brought the TreasuryOne Amarok home in 47th, with enough time for the team to ready it for Wednesday's action.
It was no easier on two whees either, as Frenchman Adrien van Beveren took motorcycle honours by over five minutes over Yamaha teammate and compatriot Xavier de Soultrait, with KTM’s Matthias Walkner third, while Argentinian Pablo Quintanila moved his Husqvarna up to fourth on the day from KTM men, Slovak rider Stefan Svitko and Spaniard Daniel Oliveiras Carreras.
It was a tough day for Honda’s Joan Barreda who lost ten minutes in the final sector to tumble down to ninth on the day, while defending champion Toby Price fell to 14th and his KTM teammate and yesterday’s winner Sam Sunderland was in trouble in a stage where navigation proved the name of the game with wild fluctuations in positions through the bike field checkpoint to checkpoint .
The commotion was good to the SA riders though - David Thomas bounced up to 39th from 53rd, while Willem du Toit ended 73rd, Donovan van de Langeberg 78th and SA's tail-end heroes, Lesotho-based Wessel Bosman 114th and Gerry van der Byl 117th and last after seven and a half hours in the saddle!
Tuesday’s result also completely reshuffled the overall positions among the bikes, with stage winner van Beveren bouncing up from seventh to take the overall lead from Quintanilla, Honda’s Kevin Benavides, Walkner, Soultrait and Price.
There was also a shake-up in the day's quad results, where Russia’s Sergey Karyakin finally overcame his Argentine nemesis and overall leader Ignacio Casale to take his first Dakar stage of 2018 win by 43 seconds over Casale.
Wednesday’s split stage from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa sees the bikes and quads taking a separate 508km route with a 266km special stage to the cars and trucks, which take on a longer 666km day, starting first thing in the morning with 268km of racing over the mountainous sands of Tanaka. Catch the action as it happens on TreasuryOne’s live blog at www.motorsportmedia.co.za.