Stage 7: Iveco Closes in on the Lead in the General of the Dakar
Federico Villagra's flat tire at the end of the stage, and Ton Van Genugten’s decision to help replace it, left Iveco without a victory in the special.
However, the brand moved up to 2nd place in the general thanks to the team's leader, the Dutchman Gerard de Rooy.
The Dakar Rally returned to Argentine soil in Stage 7, which ended on Saturday afternoon, prior to the day of rest in the city of Salta this Sunday. Part of the route was altered and cut short for Bikes and Quads due to heavy storms and a swell in the river at kilometer 350, but, fortunately, the Cars and Trucks were able to complete the entire timed special.
Federico Villagra once again appeared to be one of the top competitors, with great times in the first parts of today's special, which left from Uyuni, crossed the border to Argentina and ended in the city of Salta. The local pilot was in first or second place during almost the entire day, exchanging the lead with his teammate Ton van Genugten.
Everything made it look as though they would take 1st and 2nd place for Iveco in this stage, but with just a few kilometers to go, Federico Villagra's Iveco Powerstar got a flat tire and he had to stop. With great team spirit and sacrificing an almost sure win, Ton van Genugten stopped his Iveco Trakker to help Villagra and both were eventually able to reach the finish line. The Dutchman came in 9 minutes behind Eduard Nikolaev, the winner of the day, while the Argentine finished 13 minutes behind the leader and was bumped out of the Top 5 of a general classification for trucks that is very close.
Gerard de Rooy was Iveco's top pilot today, coming in 4th place with his Powerstar. He managed to cross the finish line 2 minutes and 11 seconds after Nikolaev, even though he made a navigational error that cost him between 40 and 50 seconds. Thanks to Stacey and Villagra's delays, the winner of the 2012 edition now holds 2nd place in the general, just 5 minutes and 31 seconds behind the leader, Pieter Versluis.
"It's great to finish the first week like this, especially since the first week included a lot of WRC sections, which aren't my strong point. I hope to have a good second week, with the dune stretches. I have a lot of faith in my truck," said Gerard de Rooy, the pilot of Iveco Powerstar #501.
Pep Vila had another good day in his ongoing fight to place within the Top 10. He completed today's stage 9 minutes and 16 seconds after the winner, putting him in 12th place in the general. He is now 1 hour 26 minutes and 7 seconds behind the leader, Versluis, but just 32 seconds from the Top 10.
The shortened sections for Bikes and Quads forced the organization to take the partial times recorded prior to the end of the race to determine the results for these categories. Therefore, Antoine Meo won on two wheels and Lucas Bonetto took first on his ATV. The Cars were able to complete the entire route and Carlos Sainz was the winner of the day, with Sebastien Leob holding steady as the leader of the general.
Results Stage 7