- Przygonski back at the front
- Roma and Przygonski starting at the Super Ica
After yesterday’s problems, the MINI John Cooper Works Rally crews enjoyed better luck on today’s stage around Marcona. Joan Nani Roma and Alex Haro (both ESP) crossed the finishing line in a very good second place. Jakub Kuba Przygonski (POL) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) finished in seventh position to return to the top 10. The two cars crewed by Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) / Timo Gottschalk (GER) and Boris Garafulic (CHI) / Filipe Palmeiro (POR) completed today’s stage in 13th and 14th positions. Orlando Terranova and Bernardo Ronnie Graue secured first place in the semi-marathon standings.
Roma’s run of bad luck appears to have reached an end. After enduring two difficult days, he crossed the finishing line in second place today. “That was another tough stage – with lots of stones hidden in the fesh-fesh. These conditions, a mixture of stones and sand, meant that it was also not easy to choose the right tire pressure,” explains the Catalan. “Tomorrow’s stage will be another difficult one and we are sure to see some changes in the overall standings. We are trying to make as few errors as possible – but you can never be flawless at the Dakar.” Sebastien Loeb suffered technical problems, which allowed Roma and Haro to return to third place overall.
A smiling Przygonski was able to put yesterday’s problems behind him. Despite a difficult starting position, the Pole was able to finish in a good seventh place. “Trucks and SxS were on the stage ahead of us and that didn’t make things easy. It pretty much destroyed the route and loosened up a lot of big stones,” explains Przygonski. “But we found a good rhythm and did well to get through. We only had to make one brief stop to let some air out of the tires, so that we could get through the dunes better. That was a good decision. I am happy that we are back with the leading pack.”
The two MINI JCW Buggy crews have qualified for the Super-Ica early tomorrow morning. This sees the ten fastest motorbikes and cars, and the five fastest trucks, starting before the rest of the field.
Despite having a few problems to contend with, Al-Rajhi and Gottschalk were satisfied with their day. “That was heavy going, with an extreme amount of sand and dunes – which is actually pretty fine for us,” says the Saudi. “We had some tire problems and we had to pump up the other tire a bit after one dune. Unfortunately, we then got really stuck, which cost us quite a bit of time. But, apart from that, it was good day.”
It’s an early start tomorrow, as the first car will be leaving the bivouac at 4 a.m. After a 206-kilometer connecting stage, the participants will make a start on the 159km of the stage itself. A short neutralisation phase will be followed by the 200km second section. The special stage finishes just before the bivouac in Pisco.