Peugeot to the fore, but Giniel leads overall
Just when most thought the Peugeot Dakar era was over following the factory team's exit, French rally legend Sebastien Loeb driving a privately entered 2017 3008 DKR racer, delivered a crushing performance to win Tuesday’s second stage from the squabbling pack of Nani Roma's Mini, Bernard Ten Brinke and Giniel de Villiers' Toyotas and the Minis of Saudi Yaseen Al Rajhi and France’s Cyril Despres.
Said to be the first real challenge of Dakar 2019, Day 2 ran 552km from Pisco to San Juan de Marcona, including a 342km racing stage across the dunes as the cars opened the way without any bike tracks to follow, so good navigation was essential. SA hero Giniel de Villiers had a good day as he moved into the overall lead from Dutch Proudly SA Hilux teammate Ten Brinke, with the Minis of Al Rajhi and Roma next up from Loeb, who halved his deficit to the lead with Tuesday’s win...
South African rookie car crew and the first SA team of colour to tackle the Dakar, Shameer Variawa and Zaheer Bodhanya had a slow start to the day and dropped a few places in the opening sector, but the SVR Red Lined Nissan Navara duo enjoyed a strong afternoon to move up from 74th at the start to 54th by mid distance. (Come back a little later for an update.)
Dakar legend Stephane Peterhansel stopped for 20 minutes to repair his Mini as he dropped down the order while overnight leader Nasser Al Attiyah appeared to struggle as he lost time consistently to come home 11th behind Harry Hunt’s Peugeot, Carlos Sainz’ Mini, Peruvian Nikolas Fuchs in a Proto and Vladimir Vasiliev’s Toyota.
The two wheeled battle followed the cars on Tuesday and it was all about US rider Ricky Brabec, who took charge early on aboard his Honda to and lead all the way from Austrian KTM rider and last year’s winner Matthias Walkner, Hondas rider Kevin Benavides, KTM duo, Aussie Toby Price and Brit Sam Sunderland and Joan Barreda's Hoinda. Botswana rookie Ross Branch impressed hugely running well in or about the top 20 on his KTM and SA lad Kenny Gilbert kept a watching brief on his Husqvarna, climbing steadily through the field through the day.
The trucks and quads were still in the stage at the time of writing — Argentine Nicolas Cavigliasso took the opening quad stage, beating countryman Jeremías González Ferioli, while Russia’s Eduard Nikolaiev took his Kamaz to truck victory over Iveco trio Dutch driver Ton van Genugten, Argentine Federico Villagra and another Dutchman, Gerard du Rooy.
Wednesday’s third day of Dakar 2019 will see competitors racing 331km of the 799km run through the arid wastes between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa including an ominous dune called Acari that will be included for the first time.