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Toyota consolidates lead

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Stage 6 saw crews return to the bivouac at San Juan de Marcona via a 309km stage and more than 500km of liaison

Stage 6 from Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona: Toyota Gazoos driver Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel in action during the race

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al Attiyah (Qatar) and French navigator Mathieu Baumel came second in Stage 6 of the Dakar Rally on Sunday to extend their overall lead to nearly 38 minutes.

Stage 6 saw crews return to the bivouac at San Juan de Marcona via a 309km stage and more than 500km of liaison.

“Today’s stage was extremely difficult, with some massive dunes and tricky navigation,” said Al Attiyah after arriving at the bivouac in San Juan de Marcona.

“We led for most of the stage, but then made a small mistake near the end, which allowed Sebastien (Loeb) to take the stage win.”

Al Attiyah reported a clean run in terms of the Toyota Hilux, which powered through the tricky terrain without missing a beat.

His standing after the long stage puts him 37:43 clear of Loeb, who has moved into the second position after MINI’s Stephane Peterhansel lost 18 minutes on the stage, relegating the MINI driver to third on the table.

It was also a solid stage for Giniel de Villiers, partnered with Dirk von Zitzewitz, who set the eighth-fastest time on the day.

The Toyota Hilux crew were running in fourth position for most of the stage, but lost time due to tricky navigation near the end of the test.

The same can be said for teammates Bernhard ten Brinke and Xavier Panseri, who spent most of the stage in third position.

They, too, lost some time near the end of the stage, going ninth-fastest and moving into 9th position in the overall standings.

De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz also broke back into the Top 20, pegging 18th position thanks to their solid performance on Stage 6.

In the meantime, Toyota Hilux driver Aron Domzala (Poland) proved just how tough the car is. The young driver crashed out of the Dakar Rally on Stage 5, when his car fell down a steep incline – so steep that the only way to recover the vehicle was by helicopter.

Once the Toyota was back on the ground, the assistance crew simply fired it up and drove it to the bivouac – testimony to the undeniable toughness of the Hilux.

That same toughness and reliability will be tested on Stage 7 of Dakar 2019, which has been widely touted as the toughest of the event.

“I’m not sure that it can be much tougher than Stage 6 in terms of the terrain,” explained Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall from the bivouac at San Juan de Marcona.

“But the crews will be covering terrain that was used in previous stages, so there will be many confusing tracks, which could make navigation a challenge.”

Stage 7 is a looped stage of 323 km, starting and finishing at the bivouac in San Juan de Marcona. Three more stages will follow, before the event draws to a close on January 17 in the Peruvian Capital of Lima.

African News Agency (ANA)

Stage 6 results

Loeb / Elena (Peugeot) Winners

Al Attiyah / Baumel (Toyota) +02:17

Sainz / Cruz (MINI) +06:56

Despres / Cottret (MINI) +13:05

Roma / Haro (MINI) +13:08

Peterhansel / Castera (MINI) +18:49

Prokop / Tomanek (Ford) +19:22

De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz (Toyota) +23:29

Ten Brinke / Panseri (Toyota) +27:29

Henrard / Du Bois (Henrard) +01:00:34

Overall standings

Al Attiyah / Baumel (Toyota)Leaders

Loeb / Elena (Peugeot) +37:43

Peterhansel / Castera (MINI) +41:14

Roma / Haro (MINI) +45:24

Despres / Cottret (MINI) +01:19:09

Przygonski / Colsoul (MINI) +02:03:10

Prokop / Tomanek (Ford) +02:31:02

Al Rajhi / Gottschalk (MINI) +04:01:19

Ten Brinke / Panseri (Toyota) +04:18:44

Vanagas / Rozwadowski (Toyota) +05:06:50

Sainz / Cruz (MINI) +05:18:01

De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz (Toyota) +06:48:00