Dakar 2016Featured

The End Is In Sight Stage 11- La Rioja to San Juan

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The End Is In Sight
Stage 11- La Rioja to San Juan

As the Dakar Rally continues south through western Argentina, the terrain is changing from sand dunes and mountain passes to more silt beds and valleys. As a result, in Stage 12 there wasn’t nearly as many changes in the standings as we saw the previous day on Stage 11 in Fiambala. Stephane Peterhansel came in eighth on Stage 12, giving up 8 minutes to Nasser Al-Attiyah, who won his second stage and sits in second place in the overall rankings. Peterhansel’s lead shrunk to 51 minutes, but with only two stages left to go the race is his to lose. “For sure, this morning we started really safely,” Peterhansel confessed. “It’s never done: if you have ten minutes, two minutes or one hour and you have a big technical problem then you’re stopped and it’s finished for the overall victory. It’s never over.”

Sebastian Loeb broke his transmission late in the stage, but still managed to finish in second place! Teammate Cyril Despres stopped to tow Loeb the last two kilometers to the end of the special stage, finishing in eighth for the day. “He got out his rope and asked us if we could pull him out of the stage because he hit the transmission with a rock.” Despres reported. “It’s not my point of view to leave a Peugeot behind.” Despite what we reported yesterday, Carlos Sainz was not able to continue on after his Peugeot 2008 DKR suffered a transmission failure yesterday. According to Peugeot “the team engineers concluded that as well as the breakage of the spacer between the engine and gearbox, there was other significant collateral damage that will prevent the crew of Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz from continuing.” The whole situation is eerily similar to when Sainz rolled into a ravine in Fiambala while leading the race late in the 2009 edition of the Dakar Rally.

Despite being disqualified, Sheldon Creed continues to drive his Gordini along the assistance route with the rest of Team Speed. Today navigator Jonah Street gave up the right seat in the Gordini to let team mechanic Tucker Conroy enjoy the ride. “You get a lot of attention driving that thing, that’s for sure,” Conroy noted. “Particularly when Sheldon is lifting the inside tire going around corners!”

Creed’s teammate Robby Gordon finished Stage 11 in a very respectable 11th place, 22 minutes behind Al-Attiyah. “The course started rough, almost like whoops, and it really favored the Gordini with the big Toyos on it,” explained navigator Kellon Walch. “Then we started to get into the bottom of river beds and the route was faster and smoother.” Gordon traded places with Orlando Terranova throughout the stage, but didn’t experience the same problems as Stage 5, where Terranova refused to let Gordon pass. Tomorrow promises more of the same, as the ASO has staged that Stage 12 back to Villa Carlos Paz will be 100% rally roads. Look for Sebastian Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen to shine on this stage while Peterhansel plays things safe again.