Only two legs to go until the Dakar reaches its finish line in Buenos Aires (AR) and MINI is continuing to show a dominant pace. So far the MINI ALL4 Racing has won ten out of eleven stages.
Nasser Al-Attiyah (QT) and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FR) clinched yet another stage win on Thursday, their fifth so far at this year’s event. They extended their lead in the overall classification by another 39 seconds and are now 29:01 minutes ahead of De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz with just two stages to go.
“There are another two days to go and we have to survive these days,” Al-Attiyah said. “We didn’t take any unnecessary risks today but we found a good rhythm and that’s crucial in stages such as today’s.”
Orlando Terranova (AR) and Bernardo Graue (AR) were 27 seconds behind Al-Attiyah/Baumel today an perfected the second MINI one-two in a row. “It was a beautiful but also really fast track, resembling rally special stage”, Terranova said. “In some sections it was slippery and muddy and you had to be really careful. Therefore, we didn’t push to the max.” Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RU/RU) in the MINI ALL4 Racing followed in a strong fifth position, moving up from seventh to sixth position in the overall classification.
On Thursday the Dakar headed back to Argentina. On leg eleven from Salta in Chile to Termas Rio Hondo the drivers tackled a just 194 kilometre-long high-speed stage. It was held on challenging gravel roads often lined with trees.
Krzysztof Holowczyc/Xavier Panseri (PL/FR) and Erik van Loon/Wouter Rosegaar (NL/NL) experienced another great day. The MINI drivers moved up to third and fourth place respectively. “Our MINI ALL4 Racing ran very well throughout the Dakar to date, apart from some minor problems in the opening stages,” Holowczyc said. “But I adapted my style of driving afterwards and tried to take the car to the finish every day in fast but safe style. And this approach paid off.”
A total of five MINI ALL4 Racing are still within the top ten. Aidyn Rakhimbayev/Anton Nikolaev (KZ/RU) also moved up a position today and are now in ninth position.
On Friday the drivers will head into the penultimate leg of the 2015 Dakar Rally. Leg twelve will lead from Termas Rio Hondo (AR) to Rosario (AR). The 298 kilometre-long stage will be similar to stage eleven as it will be held on challenging gravel roads lined with bushes and trees. The drivers have to be very vigilant again before turning into the home stretch of this year’s Dakar.
Overall classification after leg 11 (Top 6).
01 Al-Attiyah/Baumel – MINI ALL4 Racing – 37:12:47h
02 De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz – 37:41:48h
03 Holowczyc/Panseri – MINI ALL4 Racing – 38:43:36h
04 Van Loon/Rosegaar – MINI ALL4 Racing – 40:06:56h
05 Lavieille/Maimon – 40:17:08h
06 Vasilyev/Zhiltsov – MINI ALL4 Racing – 40:26:13h