Even without Nani Roma in contention, the Minis are still coming up big early on in the 2015 Dakar Rally.
Roma’s chances of defending his Dakar title were finished in Sunday’s opening stage, but fellow Mini drivers Nasser Al-Attiyah and Orlando Terranova have stepped up to keep the marque up front.
In Tuesday’s Stage 3 from San Juan to Chilecito, Argentina, Terranova made up for his Monday crash that cost him a possible win by taking the top spot at 1 minute, 54 seconds quicker than Toyota’s Giniel de Villiers.
“…We can’t think about strategy in a situation like this, but just have to push,” Terranova said in a release afterwards.
The stage win also propels Terranova from 10th to third in the overall standings, which are still being led by Al-Attiyah.
The Qatari followed up his Monday win with a fifth-place performance on Tuesday, and his overall edge over de Villiers currently sits at 5 minutes, 18 seconds.
“To open the stage is not easy because we needed to be careful with the navigation and because there were no bikes opening the stage,” Al-Attiyah said. “In some places, there was no road, but [co-driver] Matthieu [Baumel] did a really good job. We didn’t take any risks.
“Our plan was to lose a little bit for tomorrow because tomorrow, it is very important to start in at least the Top-5 and to push like [Monday], when we achieved a very good time.”
As for de Villiers, he overcame a tire puncture that occurred when his Toyota Hilux hit a rock while running in a river bed.
“I was a little bit annoyed with myself that I hit the rock, but anyway we had to push again,” he said. “There were one or two places that were quite tricky with the navigation, but [co-driver] Dirk [von Zitzewitz] did a good job.
“Then it was very bumpy for the second part of the stage. It was really bumpy and at quite high speed, so you really had to concentrate a lot to avoid making a mistake, because you could easily make a big mistake there.”
Toyota’s Yazeed Alrajhi came home third on Tuesday, followed by Carlos Sainz of Peugeot, who moved up to fourth in the overall with, what else, a fourth-place finish. Roma, despite his crippling setback last weekend, also appears to have found his rhythm again with a sixth-place run.
Also bouncing back somewhat was Robby Gordon. Mechanical problems on Monday cost him and co-driver Johnny Campbell more than four hours overall, but the No. 308 Gordini responded Tuesday with a solid 15th-place showing at almost 22 minutes behind Terranova.
The duo had to work hard for the result following an early tire puncture that forced them to re-pass several cars they had gotten by at the start of the stage.
However, Gordon and Campbell lost a bit of time in the overall standings to the leader as well. They now sit 40th on the big board at four hours, 24 minutes, 18 seconds off the pace.
Monday’s Stage 2, the longest of the rally, has appeared to take a serious toll. More than 30 cars failed to take the start for Tuesday; among those unable to continue was the lone all-female driving team in the Dakar, Catherine Houles and Sandrine Ridet, in their No. 422 Isuzu.
Coverage of Stage 2 of the 2015 Dakar Rally airs today at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. For a full Dakar TV schedule, CLICK HERE.
2015 Dakar Rally – Overall Standings, Cars
(After Stage 3 – San Juan to Chilecito)
1. 301-Nasser Al-Attiyah (Mini), 9hrs, 21mins, 26secs
2. 303-Giniel de Villiers (Toyota), + 5mins, 18secs
3. 305-Orlando Terranova (Mini), + 18mins, 5secs
4. 304-Carlos Sainz (Peugeot), + 19mins, 32secs
5. 325-Yazeed Alrajhi (Toyota), + 20mins, 8secs
6. 307-Krzysztof Holowczyc (Mini), + 25mins, 24secs
7. 314-Erik Van Loon (Mini), +27mins, 43secs
8. 315-Bernhard Ten Brinke (Toyota), + 36mins, 22secs
9. 306-Carlos Sousa (Mitsubishi), + 41mins, 52secs
10. 309-Christian Lavieille (Toyota), +43mins, 38secs