Stage 1: Buenos Aires – Villa Carlos Paz
liaison, 663km; special, 170km; total, 833 km.
TEN BRINKE, LAVIEILLE AND DABROWSKI LEAD THE WAY FOR OVERDRIVE RACING AFTER FIRST DAKAR RALLY STAGE
- Overdrive Racing’s Alvarez in 16th; Al-Rajhi 20th and Olholm in 23rd places
- Toyota Imperial’s De Villiers and Poulter into Villa Carlos Paz in fourth and 14th
- Family bereavement forces co-driver change and Jacek Czachor to miss rally
- Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah snatches slender first stage Dakar Rally lead
VILLA CARLOS PAZ (Argentina): Overdrive Racing and Hallspeed have one of the largest teams ever assembled to take part in the gruelling Dakar Rally and the Belgian-South African operation made a good start through the opening 170km special stage, held between Buenos Aires and Villa Carlos Paz, in Argentina on Sunday.
Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke and his Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul had been the third quickest crew through the opening passage control of the short stage in their Overdrive Toyota Hilux and went on to reach the finish in an excellent seventh position.
Giniel de Villiers and Leeroy Poulter are driving the two official factory Toyota Imperial South Africa Toyota Hiluxes with Germany’s Dirk von Zitzewitz and fellow South African Robert Howie reading the maps. De Villiers reached the finish of the opener in fourth overall and Poulter was classified in 14th after being the second quickest driver through the first checkpoint.
The experienced Frenchman Christian Lavieille and his 2002 Dakar Rally-winning co-driver Pascal Maimon made a good start to their first Dakar with Overdrive Racing and the Toyota Hilux and set the 11th quickest time.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah claimed the opening stage win with a time of 1hr 12min 50sec. He and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel finished the short special 22 seconds in front of the Argentine driver Orlando Terranova.
Jacek Czachor’s Dakar ended in tragedy even before the start. The Pole had intended to navigate fellow former enduro rider Marek Dabrowski in a Team Orlen Overdrive Toyota Hilux, but was forced to return to Europe after hearing of a close family bereavement. Dubai-based Briton Mark Powell was in Argentina to drive an Orlen Team press car and the Briton was duly promoted to co-driving responsibilities on the Dakar for the first time. “It was my ambition to take part in the Dakar, but it’s so sad it happened in these awful circumstances,” said Powell.
Dabrowski and Powell completed the opening stage in a solid 15th place.
The Argentine duo of Lucio Alvarez and Roberto Patti were classified sixth through PC1, but lost a couple of minutes later in the stage and reached the finish in 16th. Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and German co-driver Timo Gottschalk completed the special a mere 32 seconds behind Alvarez in 20th place.
Australian Geoff Olholm and French navigator Edouard Boulanger reached the stage finish in 23rd, Kazakh Bauyrzhan Issabayev and Russian partner Vladimir Demyanenko were 26th and Lithuanian Benediktas Vanagas and his Belarussian navigator Andrei Rudnitski registered 29th overall in their Overdrive-built Toyota Hilux. Czech driver Peter Jerie and experienced French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter rounded off the Overdrive entrants in an unofficial 65th overall.
“There is nothing to gain from pushing hard on these early stages and making mistakes,” said Overdrive Racing’s team director Jean-Marc Fortin. “It’s a case of our teams settling in, finding a safe pace and taking no risks. It was a gentle stage to get everyone into the rhythm, but we know there are far greater challenges lying ahead over the coming days.”
After spending Sunday night in the town of Villa Carlos Paz, the route of the Dakar heads further west towards the town of San Juan on Monday.
Teams will tackle a much more difficult special stage of 518km in length before spending a night in the Cuyo region of northwest Argentina. A third stage in Argentina takes crews from San Juan to Chilecito on Tuesday. This third stage of 284km will be short by Dakar standards, but should feature plenty of rocky sections where punctures and potential suspension damage add to the risks.
2015 Dakar Rally – positions after stage 1 (Buenos Aires-Villa Carlos Paz):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 1hr 12min 50sec
2. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Ronnie Graue (ARG) Mini All4 Racing 1hr 13min 12sec
3. Robby Gordon (USA)/Johnny Campbell (USA) Hummer 1hr 13min 54sec
4. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Imperial Hilux 1h4 14min 02sec
5. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 1hr 14min 06sec
6. Emiliano Spataro (ARG)/Benjamin Lozada (ARG) Renault 1hr 14min 08sec
7. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NED)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Overdrive Toyota Hilux 1hr 14min 28sec
8. Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP) Peugeot 2008 DXR 1hr 14min 56sec
9. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Roesegar (NLD) Mini All4Racing 1hr 15min 10sec
10. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot 2008 DXR 1hr 15min 25sec