Toyota´s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah protected his second position in the overall standings on the second half of the Marathon stage between Uyuni and Tupiza in Bolivia on Sunday. The Qatari and French navigator Matthieu Baumel carded the third quickest time and reduced Carlos Sainz’s overall advantage by 4:52 minutes to 01:06:37 hours. But he will have to wait until Tuesday to try and reduce the gap still further after the ninth stage was cancelled on safety grounds following a bad weather forecast in the High Andes.
"This is a good result," said Al Attiyah. "Our Hilux has shown its reliability on the two days of the Marathon stage where we have raced nearly 1,000km of special stages without the slightest problem. We only had a slow puncture on Sunday. We will continue to attack to maintain our position. But we will also be keeping a close eye on what is happening in front."
Giniel De Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz dropped nearly 20 minutes early in the stage stuck in a hole full of vegetation and went on to set the ninth quickest time. "I lost 20 minutes stuck in a hole full of vegetation," De Villiers told. "I did not see it. We had to resort to putting the spare wheels under the car to get out. It’s a real shame to lose time like this as we were on a good pace. I console myself by telling myself that I will have an advantageous starting position for the next special."
Bernhard Ten Brinke and French co-driver Michel Périn were fourth quickest and took advantage of the South African’s misfortune to move above their team-mate and into fourth in the rankings. "We did a good job without making a mistake," the Dutchman said. "We attacked a little more than normal this time because we lost too much time yesterday because of our concern for the windscreen wipers. I wanted to regain ground. We caught several cars. It was good to go fast."
The route of the longest stage of the rally passed over the Uyuni salt flats en route to the night halt in Tupiza and the rendez-vous with the service crews and the rest of the Dakar caravan. Race officials opted to cancel the ninth stage in Bolivia before the race crossed the frontier into Argentina en route from Tupiza to Salta. An adverse weather forecast had led to the severe risk of thunderstorms, flooding and severe disruption. It means that 242km of competition against the clock has been lost.
Photos: Red Bull
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