Difficult task for the navigators on the way to Oruro
For Team X-raid, the fifth stage of the 2017 Dakar didn’t run exactly positive. In particular, some of the pairings had major problems with the difficult navigation. Orlando Terranova (ARG) and Andreas Schulz (GER) finished eighth in the shortened stage, with their MINI John Cooper Works Rally. Due to the adverse weather conditions around Oruro, the organisers stopped the race action with 219 kilometres of the special stage contested. MINI All4 Racing pairing Kuba Przygonski (POL) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) came ninth. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) / Timo Gottschalk (GER) (MINI John Cooper Works Rally) and Boris Garafulic (CHI) / Filipe Palmeiro (POR), in a MINI ALL4 Racing, finished 13th and 14th, right ahead of Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Michel Périn (FRA) in another MINI John Cooper Works Rally who unfortunately lost a lot of time due to navigation problems.
Today’s stage had it all: at the beginning, the field drove up into the mountains, from there into a riverbed and afterwards, dunes were waiting for the competitors. But the riverbed proved to be particularly treacherous and nearly all the competitors lost their way, in this section. “We lost all the time we lost while looking for the right track,” said Terranova. “But we weren’t the only ones going round in circles.”
“The stage actually wasn’t that bad but we unfortunately massively lost our way,” said Przygonski. “We looked for the right track for some 30 kilometres. I think that there was a mistake in the road book as everybody was searching, there. But I’m happy to be here. Unfortunately the weather isn’t too good and this also can make an impact on tomorrow’s race action.” The pairing Hirvonen / Périn also had its problems with the difficult navigation. “We got completely lost twice,” reveals the Fin. “It was difficult for everybody but the second time we lost our way alone cost us 40 minutes.”
The positions 13 to 15 were secured by a MINI ALL4 Racing three-pack: Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) / Timo Gottschalk (GER), Boris Garafulic (CHI) / Filipe Palmeiro (POR) and Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Michel Périn (FRA). Al-Rajhi could contest today’s stage due to the appeal of Team MINI John Cooper Works Rally against the decision of the stewards to disqualify the pairing. “I feel far better today,” said Al-Rajhi. “Like many others we also lost our way. And in addition you had to cope with the fact that there was opposing traffic no matter which direction you were driving in. That added to your confusion.”
Germany’s Stephan Schott and Paulo Fiúza (POR) came 25th. The two MINI ALL4 Racing pairings Sylvio de Barros / Rafael Capoani (both BRA) and Mohamed Abu Issa (QAT) / Xavier Panseri (FRA) finished 30th and 31st respectively.
In tomorrow’s stage six, the field will be taken to Bolivia’s capital La Paz where the competitors also will spend the rest day. But before having the opportunity to do so, they will have to cover another 786 kilometres, including a 259-kilometre special stage. In the opening stages, the field once again will have to cope with dunes and later the route will take it past Lake Titicaca.