The return to Argentina represented quite a challenge: the drivers had to cover a total distance of 817 kilometres – with 481 kilometres representing the special-stage mileage – interrupted by a neutralisation period for the border crossing to Argentina. Heavy thunderstorms nearly resulted in the cancellation of the second part but the water gauge of the rivers dropped in time and other than the motor bikes, the cars could start into part two.
For the major part of the seventh stage, Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and Mathieu Baumel (FRA) held fourth position but in the closing stages they succeeded in gaining ground – and finished third. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) and Michel Périn (FRA) continued to deliver in the consistently competitive style they have been displaying throughout the event so far and finished fifth, just 40 seconds behind the Peugeot of Stéphane Peterhansel. Thanks to this result they now hold fifth place in the overall standings. While Nani Roma and Alex Haro (both ESP) finished 10th, Orlando Terranova and Ronnie Graue (both ARG) were hampered by problems and so, they had to settle for finishing 41st, in the seventh stage.
Tomorrow, the Dakar stays in Salta, Argentina, for the rest day. This name, however, does not even tell half the truth. The mechanics will subject all the MINI ALL4 Racing vehicles to a complete check to prepare them for the second week of the Dakar. Meanwhile, the drivers may sleep late but also have to take time for the media. And in the afternoon, the navigators will begin to work on the road book for stage eight to Belén.
Result stage seven (for latest version click here)
1st C. Sainz (ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP) Peugeot – 3h 19m 03s
2nd S. Loeb (FRA) / D. Elena (MCO) Peugeot – 3h 19m 41s
3rd N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 3h 22m 25s
4th S. Peterhansel (FRA) / J.-P. Cottret (FRA) Peugeot – 3h 22m 30s
5th M. Hirvonen (FIN) / M. Périn (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 3h 23m 10s
10th J. Roma (ESP) / A. Haro (ESP) MINI ALL4 Racing – 3h 26m 19s
41st O. Terranova (ARG) / B. Graue (ARG) MINI ALL4 Racing – 4h 22m 07s
Overall standings with seven stages contested (for latest version click here)
1st S. Loeb (FRA) / D. Elena (MCO) Peugeot – 21h 46m 28s
2nd S. Peterhansel (FRA) / J.-P. Cottret (FRA) Peugeot – 21h 48m 50s
3rd C. Sainz (ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP) Peugeot – 21h 51m 18s
4th N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 22h 04m 04s
5th M. Hirvonen (FIN) / M. Périn (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 22h 19m 21s
12th J. Roma (ESP) / A. Haro (ESP) MINI ALL4 Racing – 23h 07m 31s
17th O. Terranova (ARG) / B. Graue (ARG) MINI ALL4 Racing – 23h 47m 16s