South African Toyota privateers Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr (DMack/Barden Toyota Hilux) continued to impress on their first Dakar Rally, bringing home their ex-Toyota Motorsport Hilux in 50th place on the special stage 10 between Antofagasta and El Salvador in Chile on Thursday despite being slowed by two punctures and having to contend with the dust of the 21 cars and 12 trucks that started ahead of them.
With just two of the 9 500-kilometre event’s 13 stages remaining before the finish in Valparaiso on Saturday, they are 25th in the general classification.
The DMack/Barden team’s Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr, the South African privateers competing in their first Dakar Rally in the same Toyota Hilux in which 2009 winners Giniel de Villiers and Germany’s Dirk von Zitzewitz finished second in last year’s Dakar, delivered another steady performance to finish 21st on special stage 10 between Iquique and Antofagasta in Chile on Wednesday.
Their efforts were rewarded with a three-place improvement in their overall position in the general classification to 22nd.
It was another punishing stage covering a total distance of 688 kilometres, starting with a 53-kilometre liaison section before a 635-kilometre racing section that ended with another dune descent into the bivouac overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
“It was really difficult out there today. Another long and tiring stage in which we started 34th on the road behind 21 cars and 12 trucks. The dust was a problem and the heat and rocks were just too much for our tyres,” said Rundle. “We’re very close now to completing our first Dakar Rally and we won’t be doing anything to risk being at the finish. It’s been a tough and eye-opening experience so far and both Juan and I and the entire team are delighted to be in this position at this stage of the rally,” said Rundle.
“It’s not been easy, but we have kept our heads down and we just have to stay calm and survive two more days. It will be a great relief to see the finish in Valparaiso on Saturday.”
The stage was won by Orlando Terranova of Argentina and Portuguese co-driver Paulo Piuza (Mini). Second, 10m 57s in arrears, were current overall leaders Nani Roma of Spain and Michel Perin of France (Mini).
In the overall standings Roma and Perin lead team-mates and defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France (Mini) by 5m 32s. Third are Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz (Mini), 56m 01s in arrears.
The penultimate stage of the 2014 Dakar Rally covers 699 kilometres of which 350 are a racing section between El Salvador and La Serena. It’s another high-altitude start and this will ensure that the morning known as the Camanchaca will not delay proceedings as it has done in the past. Sand will again feature, with a big string of dunes at the end of the stage. This will not be a time for the current podium contenders to take risks.
Thomas Rundle acknowledges his sponsors and Dakar team partners DMack Tyres, Barden, Liqui Moly, Willard Powertech, DeWalt, Godrich Toyota, Cambist, Pioneer Plastics, Spiralsoft, Itec – Pretoria East, Chemvulc, EyeGym, Rudy Project Eyewear, Ruwacon, Vibro Bricks and Paving, Autozone, Olympus Panelbeaters, Maxwell Advertising & Design, PVM Nutritional Sciences, Steam Generation Africa, Ultimate Powder Coaters, Marina Colonna South Africa, Donaldson Filtration Solutions, Steed Bekker Waterproofing, Chopper Worx, KEC Electrical, Jodan Construction, Ah + A Electrical, Stargas, 4C Technology, PH Bagale, Clippa Sales/Mentos, FH Chamberlain Trading, Raceworx KTM, Lynnwood Cyclery and Heather James Rundle..