Friday, January 15, 2016

Hirvonen Wins First Career Dakar Stage

The penultimate stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally was the longest stage of this year's race and it saw two competitors pick up their first stage victories.

Mikko Hirvonen won his first career stage. The Finn is competing in his first Dakar Rally. Hirvonen was victorious by nine seconds over fellow Mini driver Nasser Al-Attiyah. In third place on the stage was Leeroy Poulter, who finished 45 seconds back. Giniel de Villiers finished 57 seconds back in fourth. Nani Roma rounded out the top five, three minutes and nine seconds behind Hirvonen. Vladimir Vasilyev finished four minutes and 23 seconds back in sixth and Orlando Terranova finished six minutes back in seventh. Sébastien Loeb finished eighth, eight minutes and 33 seconds back. Cyril Despres and Stéphane Peterhansel rounded out the top ten, nine minutes and 11 minutes back respectively.

Peterhansel leads heading into the final stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally and is on the verge of his 12th Dakar victory and sixth in the car class. He leads Al-Attiyah by 40 minutes and 59 seconds. De Villiers is an hour and 11 minutes back with Hirvonen trailing the South African by just under four and a half minutes. Fifth place is Poulter. He is an hour and 36 minutes back. Roma is ten minutes outside the top five. Despres is an hour and 55 minutes back in seventh. Vasilyev, Loeb and Harry Hunt round out the top ten. Vasilyev and Loeb are over two hours back while Hunt trails by over three hours.

Hélder Rodrigues won his first stage of this year's race. The Portuguese rider won by four minutes and 32 seconds over overall bike class leader Toby Price. Kevin Benavides finished 23 seconds behind the Australian. Štefan Svitko finished sixth minutes and 48 seconds back with Adrien Van Beveren in fifth, 40 seconds behind the Slovakian. Pablo Quintanilla finished sixth, 12 minutes and 23 seconds back. Gerard Farres finished 17 minutes and four seconds back with Armand Monleon finishing 11 seconds behind Farres. Oliver Pain was 21 seconds behind Monleon and Jacopo Cerutti finished 53 seconds behind Monleon.

Price leads Svitko by 37 minutes and 39 seconds. Quantinalla is 53 minutes back with Benavides and Rodrigues both over 57 minutes back and only one second separating the two riders for fourth. An hour and 14 minutes back is Antoine Meo. Van Beveren trails by an hour and 36 minutes. Farres is an hour and 54 minutes back. American Ricky Brabec is ninth, two hours and three minutes behind Price. Monleon is over three hours back in tenth.

Marcos Patronelli won his third stage and extended his quad class lead. He won by nine seconds over Bolivian Walter Nosiglia. Sergei Karyakin finished 49 seconds back in third. Jeremias González finished fourth, three minutes and 47 seconds back. Alejandro Patronelli finished four minutes and 15 seconds back of his brother in fifth.

Marcos leads his brother Alejandro by four minutes and 23 seconds. Both riders are vying to become the first three-time winner in the quad class. Karyakin is an hour and 52 minutes behind Marcos in third. Brian Baragnwanath is an hour and 57 minutes back. González is two hours and six minutes back in fifth.

Pieter Versluis won stage 12 in the truck class, his first victory since stage two. Federico Villagra finished three minutes and 14 seconds back in second with Hans Stacey finishing four seconds behind the Argentine. Jaroslav Valtr finished five minutes and a second back in fourth and Gerard de Rooy finished fifth, 23 seconds behind Valtr.

De Rooy leads the truck class overall by an hour and 13 minutes over Airat Mardeev. De Rooy is on the verge of his second Dakar victory. Villagra trails by an hour and 43 minutes. Ton Van Genugten and Stacey round out the top five, both are over two hours behind their fellow Dutchman.

The final stage of the Dakar Rally heads from Villa Carlos Paz to Rosario.