The Dakar Blazed Past the Uyuni Salt Flats
The sixth stage of the world's toughest rally race included very dangerous stretches near the Uyuni Salt Flats, in Bolivia.
Gerard de Rooy was Iveco's strongest competitor today, coming in just 7 seconds behind the winner, Hans Stacey.
According to the pilots, today's special was the most complex of any so far in the 2016 edition of the competition. There were falls, fractures, fires and drop-outs, but Iveco's fleet went unscathed and reached the finish line without any problems.
Gerard de Rooy was in the lead at 4 out of 5 waypoints, but victory slipped out of his hands near the end, when his cousin, Hans Stacey, snatched the lead away from him with just a few kilometers to go and by just 7 seconds. The Iveco Powerstar proved to be up to the challenges presented by the toughest roads it has traveled up to this point. Thanks to de Rooy's performance, Iveco made it to the podium once again, for the fifth time in a row, having made it into the Top 3 in every special with at least one of its trucks.
Federico Villagra, who was the leader at the beginning of the sixth stage, soon drifted into the background, coming in 4 minutes and 26 seconds behind the leader, Stacey, and ending the day in 9th place. The top spots in the general classification now belong to the MAN pilots Stacey and Versluis. They are ahead of the Iveco Powerstar pilots Federico Villagra and Gerard de Rooy by 4 minutes and 5 seconds and 5 minutes and 36 seconds, respectively. However, more than half the race still lies ahead.
The crews of the Iveco Trakkers were a bit further behind today, with the Dutchman Ton van Genugten and the Spaniard Pep Vila crossing the finish line more than 10 minutes behind the leaders for 13th and 15th place.
The sixth stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally was the first and only to be held exclusively on Bolivian soil. There were two roads around the Uyuni Salt Flats: one for Cars, Bikes and Quads that consisted of 542 timed kilometers, and another special for Trucks that was just 295 kilometers. The routes were very complicated, with the additional challenge of altitude, which caused several pilots to get dizzy, faint and resort to using oxygen. The route never dipped below an altitude of 3,500 meters and, at some points, it reached peaks of up to 4,200 meters.
In the Bikes category, Joan Barreda Bort, one of the leading contenders, had to drop out of the race. Toby Price won the special once again and put 35 seconds between himself and the runner up, Paulo Gonçalves. In Quads, Peruvian pilot Alexis Hernández fell behind and Ignacio Casale had to drop out after an accident in which he fractured his clavicle, so the Patronelli brothers stepped in to take the lead in the general classification. Stephane Peterhansel won this stage in the Car category and jumped to the top spot in the 2016 Dakar Rally, ahead of the surprising challenger Sebastien Loeb.
On Saturday, the Dakar caravan will head south again towards the Republic of Argentina. Stage 7 will include 469 timed kilometers, with a race section in Bolivia, a neutralization zone up to La Quiaca, Argentina, and a final competitive section before the last day in Salta, where the pilots will rest on Sunday.
Results stage 6