The fifth stage of the 2014 Dakar rally proved to be the best so far, with Toyota, Ford and Mini ending within the top seven.
This is an impressive feat, considering the fact that the organisers had to cut the second part of the special stage short by approximately 100 km, due to safety concerns as temperatures soared to over 47 degrees in the Sierra Hombre Muerto mountains.
Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz (Toyota Imperial Hilux) kept themselves in contention for a top three finish in South America with a fine drive to second place in Thursday’s special stage five between Chilecito and Tucuman in Argentina. They are now fifth overall. Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie were less successful and finished in 36th place. They are now in 30th position overall.
Roma and Perin (Mini) regained the overall lead they had enjoyed after stage three on Tuesday and are 31m 46s ahead of Argentine Orlando Terranova and Paulo Fiuza of Portugal (MINI). Third are defending champions Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France (MINI), 39m 59s in arrears and just 1m 25s ahead of 2009 Dakar winners De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz.
Team Ford Racing driver Lucio Alvarez and navigator, Ronnie Graue, powered their Ranger to the seventh fastest time of the day, despite losing 20 minutes searching for an errant waypoint.