China Rally has brought more navigational challenges for Toyota Gazoo Raxing SA’s Giniel de Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz, who set the third-fastest time on the 265 km stage.
The pair lost 08:07 to stage winner Aorigele of China. At the same time, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Lucio Alvarez withdrew from the race as a precautionary measure after a hard impact with a dune on Stage 3.
“Lucio hit a dune fairly hard,” explained Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “No damage to the car, but he immediately felt something was wrong. Initially he lost sensation in his one leg, but that normalised quickly. However, in the evening at the bivouac, Lucio felt dizzy and requested to see the ASO’s medical team. They found no obvious injuries, but Lucio made the decision to withdraw as a precaution.”
With the team reduced to one car, all attention shifted to De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz, who set about their business with characteristic precision. Unfortunately, the tricky dunes caught them out in terms of navigation, and the crew had to backtrack in order to find a waypoint mid-way through the stage.
“It is very frustrating to lose time because of missed waypoints,” said De Villiers after completing Stage 4. “But despite this, we have three stages to go, and we’re in third place in the overall standings. Not ideal, but we’re still in with a shout, and the Toyota Hilux is running like clockwork.”
The Toyota Gazoo Racing SA squad is 07:04 behind in the overall classification, and 03:20 behind Aorigele, who currently occupies second place. There will be another opportunity to attack with Stage 5 comprising 317 km of mixed terrain. Stage 6 features 320 more special stage kilometres, before the event comes to an end with a short 28 km-stage to the finish.
The Dakar Series: Rally China is a 7-stage event, organised by the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO). The company is also the organiser of the Dakar Rally.
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