Day 2 of the 2012 Dakar took the competitors on their first proper stretch of racing from Santa Rosa de la Pampa to San Rafael some 500km due north. The stage was fast, contained some dunes and long stretches of “hoops” that shake man and machine to breaking point. The terrain is not unlike the Botswana bush with dense thorn shrub covering the soil that varies from hard, stony ruts to soft sand.
Giniel de Villiers lived up to his Imperial Toyota star billing with a great drive to 6th place, 04m37s behind Nasser Al Attiyah, who won the stage. Lucia Alvarez, in an Overdrive Toyota Hilux, finished 10th, a further 10 minutes back. Orlando Terranova, who was running at Giniel's pace, suffered side shaft maladies 5kms from the finish, losing over and hour and ruining what would have been an excellent run. Duncan Vos continues to gain confidence and came home in 18th place.
Today's run suited the two-wheel-drive special vehicles with their 700mm of suspension travel, as opposed to the 250mm available to the 4x4 Class T specification that the Team Imperial Toyota Hilux's conform to. The fact that the Hilux's could run with the long legged specials on their turf is hugely encouraging as the terrain that will allow the Toyotas to come into their own still lies ahead.
Mark Corbett and Francois Jordaan put in amazing drive in their Toyota SA Motorsport powered Century Properties car to move up to The mood in the team is optimistic, and despite the arduous working hours and huge driving distances, everyone is starting to settle into the routine of breaking camp, packing up, driving a couple of hundred kilometres before making camp again and preparing to receive the cars after their racing stint.
During last night's stay in Santa Rosa de la Pampa, there were huge spiders that seemed hell bent on getting into our tents, causing an early-hours-of the-morning ruckus and fair bit of excitement on the way.
Giniel will start 4th tomorrow morning as we head into the Andes for the first time, Alvarez 10th, Duncan 18th and Terranova should start just outside the top 20. The competitors will reach an altitude of 3,000m today in the foothills to the Andes on their way to San Juan.