After a tough day yesterday Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel (MINI) bounced back to take their second stage win of Dakar 2015. The defending champions finished the day 5’52” ahead of multiple WRC champions Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena who had to be towed across the finish line by team mates Cyril Despres and David Castera after a gimbal on their Peugeot broke just two kilometres from the finish. Mikko Hirvonen and Michel Perin (MINI) continued their steady run, finishing third just over a minute further back.
Overall leaders Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret were next home 1’04” behind the second MINI with Yazeed Al Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk again the first Toyota home, this time in fifth. As far as the South Africans went, Geniel de Villiers and Dirk van Zitzewitz led the way in seventh with Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie in ninth. Mark Corbett and Juan Mohr (Century CR5) were next up in 17th with their team mates, Colin Matthews and Rod Burke, down in 54th. Sean Reitz and Riaan Greyling (Nissan) were 37th.
Despite giving up over eight minutes today, Peterhansel and Cottret still have a 51’55” lead over Al-Attiyah and Baumel at the head of the overall standing in the car category. Third place is occupied by de Villiers and von Zitzewitz with Hirvonen and Perin in fourth. Poulter and Howie are fifth. Corbett and Mohr are in 18th, Reitz and Greyling 40th, and Matthews and Burke 41st.
In the bike category, overall ranking leader Toby Price (KTM) again controlled the race today. The Australian followed the pace of his rivals before making a special effort on the second half of the stage. This evening, the official KTM leader increases his lead and now boasts a lead of more than 35 minutes over Stefan Svitko. Paulo Gonçalves (Honda) was forced to withdraw after a fall.
However, the duel that attracted special attention was the one opposing Antoine Meo, fourth in the general standings this morning, and Pablo Quintanilla, who was third. Separated by 1’15” at the start of the special, the two men traded blow for blow. In difficulty at one point and looking like giving in, the Frenchman raised the pace at a time when the Chilean was encountering brake problems.
This was a godsend for the five times enduro world champion, who distanced his rival by 2’38” at the finishing line. Stefan Svitko, who was fifth on today’s stage, finished 12 minutes behind the Frenchman and has legitimate reasons to start worrying. In second position in the general standings, he only has a lead of 8’23” over Meo. With two days left before the finish in Rosario, the question is obvious: can Antoine Meo catch Svitko? This will be one of the major stakes on what promises to be an exiting end to this Dakar.
In the quad race Alejandro Patronelli was victorious, 1’06” ahead of Brian Baragwanath and his brother Marcos, who finished 1’26” behind.
In the overall standings Marcos retains the overall lead, but only just. He is now only eight seconds ahead of Alejandro. Baragwanath’s good run has seen him move up to third.