After a rest day on Saturday, the 2014 Dakar Rally kicked off its seventh stage from Salta, Argentina today. But instead of going along with the bikes and quads into Bolivia, the cars stuck around Salta instead by racing in a 500 km long loop route.
In the cars, Carlos Sainz (pictured, No. 303) earned his second stage win of this year’s Dakar, beating Nasser Al-Attiyah by four minutes, 45 seconds and Stephane Peterhansel by seven minutes, 26 seconds.
However, Nani Roma’s fourth-place finish (+8:56 behind Sainz) allowed him to keep grip on the overall lead in the class by 31:53 over Peterhansel. As for Sainz, he still has a lot of work to do as he remains almost two hours off the pace in sixth.
“In all honesty, everything went smoothly, and from now on we’ll be following this strategy: Trying to to win all the remaining stages until [the finish at] Valparaíso,” Sainz said.
Meanwhile, Peterhansel’s attempt to peel off a more substantial amount of time from Roma was thwarted by – no, we’re not kidding here – llamas.
“Finding our way around wasn’t overly difficult, but that didn’t mean opening the course was easy, as we came across herds of llamas several times and had to brake hard and then drive carefully while they got out of the way,” the 11-time Dakar champ said.
“We scared them away for the other drivers and it cost us some time, because when you go down to 50 km/h, at this altitude it takes a while before you get back to 160!”
The bike and quad racers did cross the Bolivian border, going into the city of Uyuni today. In the bikes, Joan Barreda took his third stage victory of the event by four minutes, three seconds. But finishing runner-up behind him was overall leader Marc Coma, who still holds a lead of 38:14 over Barreda.
Ignacio Casale grabbed the Stage 7 win in the quads by almost eight minutes, and also re-claimed the overall class lead over Sergio Lafuente just as the rally prepares to enter his home country of Chile. Casale’s lead over Lafuente, however, is a slim one at 6:15.
The truck stage was taken by Eduard Nikolaev by 3:45 over Kamaz teammate Dmitri Sotnikov, but overall leader Gerard de Rooy picked up a third-place finish and still has a steady lead of almost 38 minutes over Andrey Karginov.