Federico Villagra and Andrés Memi are now within two days of achieving their original target of bringing the YPC Competicion Ford Ranger to the finish of the gruelling Dakar Rally.
The pair produced another professional performance through the shorter 11th special stage between Salta and Termas de Rio Hondo in northern Argentina on Thursday afternoon. They recorded the 25th quickest time and hold 29th overall in the unofficial general classification.
Villagra’s Ford Ranger began the 11th stage in 31st and 45th on the road after losing more than 30 minutes into Salta repairing a damaged rear brake pipe.
“It was disappointing yesterday, because we started on a good pace and overtook quite a few cars and trucks until we had the brake issue,” admitted the Argentine. “We managed to repair it and continue to run an even more competitive pace, but could not recover that lost time.”
A liaison of 184km took the surviving 69 cars to the start of the 194km special stage and a second link section of 142km brought teams into Termas de Rio Hondo via the famous Argentine rally town of San Miguel de Tucumán.
Villagra started well and overtook several cars. He was running in a virtual 26th position through the first of the official waypoint checks and improved to 25th at both WP2 and through WP3 at 130km. Twenty-fourth after 160km, the 45-yearold Argentine reached the finish in 2hrs 01min 24sec and 25th position.
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah began the day with a lead of 28min 22sec and a fifth stage win ensured that the Qatari would reach the start of the penultimate special with an outright advantage of 29min 01sec over South African’s Giniel de Villiers.
South Racing is looking after Villagra’s on-event logistics and day-to-day management under the directorship of Scott Abraham and his team. Villagra’s Ford Ranger was prepared and developed in South Africa by Neil Woolridge Motorsport.
In addition to Argentine energy company YPF, Villagra’s Dakar programme is being supported by suspension and OEM parts company Fric Rot, Brenson (Dealer Ford), Piamontesa and construction company Natania. OMP, Michelin, Rudy Project and Gold Nutrition have provided technical assistance.
Tomorrow (Friday, January 16), marks the penultimate day in what has been a difficult and demanding Dakar Rally. The YPF Competicion Ford Ranger will leave the overnight halt in Termas de Rio Hondo and embark upon the longest day of the entire rally in terms of kilometres travelled.
In a route of 1,024km, only 298 tricky kilometres will be competitive, but two liaison sections make up a tiring 726km run across northern Argentina to the last overnight halt on the western banks of the Paraná River in the city of Rosario.