No direct help from the outside, no mechanics, no teams. Tonight in Bolivia, the Dakar competitors are completely on their own. The first part of this marathon stage is over and once again, a MINI ALL4 Racing was the stage winner, five of the X-raid designed and built cars made it to the top 10 and nine to the top 20. In the overall standings, eight MINI ALL4 Racing cars hold top-20 positions. Orlando Terranova has worked his way back up to 24th position, Nani Roma to 23rd. The MINI ALL4 Racing vehicles survived the first half of the marathon stage in good condition. Now, the cars will be checked by the drivers and the wheels will be changed to be on the safe side for tomorrow’s second half.
The Argentineans Orlando Terranova and Bernardo ‘Ronnie’, representing the Monster Energy Rally Raid Team colours, secured their third stage win. “The special stage was a true challenge but we and the MINI made it to Uyuni unharmed”, said Terranova. “Now we subjected the car to a short check-up and the MINI feels well.” Their team-mates Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL) / Xavier Panseri (FRA) and Nani Roma (ESP) / Michel Périn (FRA) finished fourth and fifth respectively, with Holowczyc defending his fourth position in the overall rankings, with this result. The Dakar leaders, Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and Mathieu Baumel (FRA), took their MINI ALL4 Racing to seventh place, today. Nonetheless, they still hold a lead of more than eight minutes over the toughest opponent. But Al-Attiyah had his problems with the effects of the height. “I suffered from rather bad headache that made me feel every single hole and bump,” he revealed. “Now I need to recover for tomorrow.”
The Russians Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov and their VRT MINI ALL4 Racing crossed the finish line of stage seven in 10th position, with another two MINI ALL4 Racing crews following close behind. Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ) and Anton Nikolaev (RUS) came 12th and Dutch pairing Erik van Loon / Wouter Rosegaar took their MINI ALL4 Racing to 13th.
Chile’s Boris Garafulic and his Portuguese navigator Filipe Palmeiro finished 19th. Right behind them, in 20th position, followed China’s Zhou Yong and his German co-driver Andreas Schulz. German pairing Stephan Schott / Holm Schmidt came 30th, with Guerlain Chicherit (FRA) and Alex Winoqc taking their buggy to 51st.
Tomorrow the crews will have to face another tough day. The start presumably (depending on the weather condition) will take place on the huge salt lake located at Uyuni. This means that the drivers will have to go flat out, during the first kilometres! Afterwards, slower sections across the Andes are waiting for the crews – and in the closing stages, the dunes around Iquique will represent another tough test for the skills of drivers and navigators. The entire racing in Bolivia will be contested at 3.600 metres above sea level – a true challenge for both man and engine.