ZAGORA, MOROCCO – Both Giniel de Villiers and Leeroy Poulter had clean runs through Stage 2 of the Morocco Rally today, though Poulter and navigator Rob Howie lost some time when they stopped to inspect the front diff of their older specification Toyota Hilux, after they heard some worrying noises.
“Turns out everything was fine,” explained Poulter at the end of the 224 km stage. “We were worried that we might have lost a driveshaft, and decided to stop as a precaution. When we saw that all was well, we pushed on again, but couldn’t make up all the time we lost.”
Stage 2 consisted of a mix of fast gravel tracks, soft sand and big dunes, a perfect training session for January’s Dakar Rally. The conditions clearly suited De Villiers and German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz, who powered their Toyota Hilux to third place on the stage.
The pair started the day in ninth position, after suffering a driveshaft failure at the start of yesterday’s opening stage. But they pushed hard today, bringing the Hilux home in third place, and moving up to sixth in the overall standings.
“It was a clean run for us today, and we managed to make good progress,” said De Villiers from the bivouac at Zagora. “We’ll start in sixth place tomorrow, which also helps in terms of dust.”
For Poulter the stage started strong, as he passed the first checkpoint in fourth place. But then came the stop to inspect the car, dropping him down to seventh for the day. The result is that Poulter/Howie lose on position in the overall standings, and will start tomorrow in 7th place.
Today’s stage was won by veteran Carlos Sainz (Peugeot), who moved into the lead of the rally as a result. Nasser Al-Attiytah (MINI) posted the second-fastest time of the day, and now trail Sainz by 01:24 in the overall classification. Yazeed Al Rajhi and navigator Timo Gottschalk are still the leading Toyota Hilux, finishing fifth on today’s stage, and dropping to third in the overall standings. Russia’s Vladimir Vasiliyev (Toyota Hilux) and navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov are now in fourth place.
Stage 3 is up next, and consists of a 141 km liaison, followed by 274 km of gravel, dirt and dunes. Two more stages will follow, with the event ending on October 9th in the coastal city of Agadir.
Fans can follow the fortunes of the Toyota SA Dakar team by visiting www.toyota.co.za, www.facebook.com/toyotasouthafrica or by following @toyotaSA on Twitter.
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Dakar Sponsors, Specialist Official Suppliers and Technical Partners:
Hallspeed, TFM, Castrol, SKF, Spanjaard, Robor, NGK, Donaldson, Mastercraft, Sat4Rent, Oakley, Edgecam, Reiger, Supreme Springs, FreeM, Bosch, Smiths Manufacturing and Shatterprufe. Also Duxbury Netgear, Innovation, Toyota Financial Services, SAA Cargo and Toyota.
Note to editors:
Difference between Cross-Country, Off-Road and Rally racing: The Morocco Rally, similar to Dakar, is a cross-country race where vehicles race between GPS waypoints as opposed to existing roads. In a rally (a la WRC) the cars race along closed roads. In an off-road race the competitors follow routes not suitable for cars, but they still have a set route to follow.
For the purpose of the Morocco Rally, the event is called a rally, though it doesn't conform to the definition of a traditional rally. It has timed race (stages) and liaison (open road) sections where they do not race against the clock, but still have to depart at certain predetermined times and clock in before a given deadline to avoid time penalties.
In a rally, competitors race in similar fashion, but use multiple short stages (up to 25-35km each; around 5 or 6 special stages per day; 2-3 days per event).
In off-road racing an event consists of one long stage on a single day only, and an event is usually run over 2 days.