Dakar Stage 2: Debut victory for ex-WRC champion Loeb
Nine times World Rally Championship (WRC) champion and Dakar rookie, Sebastien Loeb, sprung a surprise on the event’s established competitors by taking victory on Tuesday’s 387 km second stage from Villa Carlos Paz to Terms Rio Hondo in Argentina.
In a stage characterised by wet and muddy conditions as a result of torrential rain that led to the cancellation of Sunday’s opening leg, Loeb and long-time co-driver Daniel Elana crossed the line two min 23 sec ahead of teammates Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottert, in a ferry-tale start for the revised two-wheel drive Peugeot 2008 DKR buggy.
Following a disappointing return to the event last year, the French firm, winners from 1987-1990, had more reasons to smile when former five-time motorcycle winner Cyril Despres, co-driven by ex-event director David Castera, brought his 2008 DKR home in eighth place, exactly five minutes behind Loeb.
A steady start saw 2009 event winner, and South African hopeful, Giniel de Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz bringing their locally built Toyota Hilux across the line third with teammates Leeroy Poulter / Rob Howie ending the special in fifth place, three min 20 secs behind the leading Peugeot.
Splitting the Toyota pair, Dakar debutant and former Subaru, Ford and Citroen WRC driver Mikko Hirvonen, backed by veteran co-pilot Michel Perin, finished highest of the X-Raid Mini entries with teammate and defending champions Nasser Al-Attiyah / Matthieu Baumel crossing the line five min 18 sec behind winner Loeb in ninth.
South African built Toyota Hilux entries, run by Belgian outfit Overdrive, filled the remaining places with Russian crew Vladimir Vasilyev / Konstantin Zhiltsov crossing the line sixth, Saturday prologue winners Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul finishing seventh and WRC regulars Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek rounding out the top ten.
Lower down the field, local cross country competitors Mark Corbett / Juan Mohr completed the stage 34th in their Chevrolet Corvette powered Century CR5 buggy, three places ahead of teammates Colin Matthews / Rodney Barker.
The final South African crew in the car section, debutants Sean Reitz / Riaan Greyling, overcome the tricky conditions to place 88th overall in their Nissan Navara, over an hour behind the leader.
It however turned out to be a day to forget for former winner Nani Roma with the Spaniard dropping over 45 min to Loeb after getting his Mini stuck in a mud pool at kilometre 183. Technical problems 112 km into the stage also halted the progress of former double WRC champion and 2010 Dakar winner Carlos Sainz, with the Spaniard eventually bringing the fourth works Peugeot home in 14th, 11 min 03 sec behind Loeb.
With former five times winner and reigning champion Marc Coma taking up the position of route director for 2016, Australian KTM rider Toby Price emerged as the front runner in the motorbikes with a gap of one min 20 sec over the Husqvarna of Portuguese rider Ruben Faria, and French mounted Sherco rider Alain Duclos.
Now part of the official Red Bull KTM works team after an impressive debut last year, Austrian Matthias Walkner finished the stage fourth ahead of Slovakian KTM privateer Stefan Svitko, with Honda’s Joan Barreda in sixth.
Completing the remainder of the top ten, Barreda's Honda teammate Paulo Goncalves crossed the line three min 22 sec behind winner Price in seventh, but only 14 secs ahead Argentine newcomer Kevin Benavides (Honda), and well over a minute in front of Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) and the second Sherco of Spaniard Juan Pedrero.
Stage three will see the competitors tackle a 314 km special from Termas Rio Hondo to Jujuy.
STAGE 2 - OVERALL STANDINGS (CARS)
|1.||Sebastien Loeb||Daniel Elena||FRA / MON||Peugeot||03:52:03|
|2.||Stephane Peterhansel||Jean-Paul Cottret||FRA / FRA||Peugeot||+00:02:23|
|3.||Giniel de Villiers||Dirk von Zitzewitz||RSA / GER||Toyota||+00:03:01|
|4.||Mikko Hirvonen||Michel Perin||FIN / FRA||Mini||+00:03:03|
|5.||Leeroy Poulter||Rob Howie||RSA / RSA||Toyota||+00:03:40|
|6.||Vladimir Vasilyev||Konstantin Zhiltsov||RUS / RUS||Toyota||+00:03:42|
|7.||Bernhard ten Brinke||Tom Colsoul||NLD / NLD||Toyota||+00:04:53|
|8.||Cyril Despres||David Castera||FRA / FRA||Peugeot||+00:05:00|
|9.||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Matthieu Baumel||QAT / FRA||Mini||+00:05:40|
|10.||Martin Prokop||Jan Tomanek||CZE / CZE||Toyota||+00:05:29|
STAGE 2 - OVERALL STANDINGS (BIKES)
IMAGE sourced from francetvsport.fr
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