On track and getting stronger. Stage nine on day ten of the Dakar was a 400km sprint across hard, stony tracks which ended in soft sand and the iconic 2,5km descent down a steep dune face into the Iquique bivouac.
The Imperial Toyotas ran superbly today to consolidate their top ten positions overall at this stage of the race. Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, in particular, put their 10th place starting position to good use and finished 8th in today’s stage to move into 10th place overall. They have now joined Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz (5th) and Lucio Alvarez (9th) in the top ten overall standings.
The team strategy is now to sit tight behind the leading pack and to see what may still develop over the next few days. Giniel de Villiers: “We can’t catch the leaders who are now 30 minutes of us, but we can maintain this position and pick up the pieces if anything happens to the remaining Hummer or the Minis.”
Duncan Vos: “I really enjoyed today’s run and am very happy to have finished within four minutes of Giniel. I am feeling a lot more confident and feel that I can race under these circumstances now”
Tomorrow’s stage loops back through the massive dunes or, as Giniel calls them – sand covered mountains, before heading north to Arica, the last stop in Chile. There is no doubt that we have not heard the last from the fat lady and the next few days will continue to shake out the final result.
information supplied by: Toyota South Africa – Dakar 11 January 2012
Photograph: Danie van Jaarsveld