Roma and De Villiers lose tome but Rautenbach and Van Loon climb on eighth Dakar stage into Salta


SALTA (ARGENTINA) – Tuesday, January 10: Overdrive Racing and Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s six surviving Toyota Hiluxes endured mixed fortunes on a revised eighth special stage between Uyuni in Bolivia and Salta in Argentina on Tuesday.

The two leading Toyotas of Joan Roma and Giniel de Villiers ceded time to their main rivals at the top of the leader board, although Conrad Rautenbach and Erik Van Loon were able to improve their positions in the general classification.

Running with support from Monster Energy, Power Electronics and Air Europa, Roma lost time on the revised first 171km section of the special stage at altitude and reached the finish at PC1 trailing stage leader Loeb by 9min 32sec. He had also ceded time to closest rival Cyril Despres and slipped back to fourth overall.

The Spaniard was able to recoup some of the time in the second half and reached the stage finish in seventh to remain in fourth place. Sébastien Loeb pipped Stéphane Peterhansel to the day’s win to regain a slender overall lead of just 1min 38sec.

Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz began the special third on the road and sixth overall. The South African was a virtual fifth at the finish of section one and had slipped a further 1min 15sec behind fifth-placed rival Mikko Hirvonen. The 2009 winner maintained that position to the end and now trails the Finn by 28min 03sec with four stages remaining before the finish in Buenos Aires on January 14.

Rautenbach and Van Loon climb in their Overdrive Racing Toyotas

Zimbarwean Conrad Rautenbach and his South African co-driver Robert Howie were a virtual ninth on the opening section to the original PC1 and moved up to 13th overall and maintained a similar position to the stage finish.

The Dutch crew of Erik van Loon and Wouter Rosegaar also climbed a place to 18th in the general classification on the opening section and reached Salta in 17th overall after passing the German driver Stephan Schott over the closing kilometres.

Alejandro Yacopini and Daniel Merlo completed the last competitive section of this year’s Dakar in Bolivia in 21st overall and crossed the border into their native Argentina in a similar position in the rankings.

The Chinese crew of He Zhitao and Kai Zhao remain on track to fulfil their goal of finishing the Dakar in a Boundless Yong Racing Toyota run by Overdrive Racing. They were delayed before the special this morning when a road collapsed after recent inclement weather in the region.

Additional support for Overdrive Racing comes from Power Electronics and Kappa clothing.