In Thursday’s stage six of the Dakar competitiors left Peru for Bolivia, travelling from Arequipa to La Paz and replacing sand dunes with fast tracks on the Bolivian plateau.
When you reach for glory at the Dakar Rally you have to stretch up high, 4 700 metres above sea level to be precise. As the race left transferred from Peru to Bolivia’s Altiplano (near Lake Titicaca) we witnessed the first day of extreme altitude. While some competitors took the chance to soar up the general rankings others dropped like stones as the harsh conditions got the better of them.
While today’s stage from Arequipa to La Paz was shortened for the bikes there were no such concessions made for the cars as they raced the entire 313km timed special. Carlos Sainz (ESP) won the stage with an exhibition of speed, but could not make too much of a dent in the overall lead of Peugeot team-mate Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) which now stands at 27m10s over the Spaniard.
“There is still a lot of racing left, with stages that are 400 and 500 kilometres long, as well as the marathon stage.” – Carlos Sainz
Race leader Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) opened the stage and put in yet another extremely professional performance to clock his category’s second quickest time.
“The main problem is altitude for the driver and for the engine. We lost a lot of power and we lost concentration – you know, the brain also works in slow motion, so it was a little bit complicated.” – Stéphane Peterhansel
Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and navigator Matthieu Baumel (FRA) took the final podium position for the day five minutes behind Sainz, while teammate Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz (GER) followed only four minute behind to take fourth position of stage six.
“It’s always good to have variation: some dunes, some stages like this with really fast rally roads, really very enjoyable to drive, but the dunes are also a different challenge and that’s also nice.” – Giniel De Villiers
The Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi of Cyril Despres (FRA) claimed the car class’s fifth fastest time.
The stage was 313km long with a new factor coming into play: altitude. It was a challenging stage for the cars with a 4 722m-high passage to overcome. Stéphane Peterhansel started first after his stage victory on Wednesday, but his Team Peugeot Total teammate Carlos Sainz ruled the day, taking his first win of this year’s Rally. Sainz completed the stage four minutes ahead of Peterhansel and five minutes ahead of Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Stage 6 Results – Cars
1. Carlos Sainz (ESP) Team Peugeot Total 02h 53′ 30″
2. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) Team Peugeot Total 02h 57′ 36”
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah Toyota Gazoo Racing SA 02h 58′ 35”
4. Giniel de Villiers Toyota Gazoo Racing SA 02h 59′ 01”
5. Cyril Despres Team Peugeot Total 03h 02′ 19”
Overall standings after Stage 6 – Cars
1. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) Team Peugeot Total 16h 25′ 02″
2. Carlos Sainz (ESP) Team Peugeot Total +00h 27′ 10″
3. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD) Toyota Gazoo Racing SA +01h 20′ 41″
4.Nasser Al-Attiyah (QTR) Toyota Gazoo Racing SA +01h 24′ 20”
5.Giniel de Villiers (RSA) Toyota Gazoo Racing SA +01h 35′ 59”
Source: Red Bull Content Pool