Mikko Hirvonen picked up his first win on the Dakar in a tense finish. Behind him entered Al-Attiyah and Poulter
Epic battle between the Mini and the Toyota in the stage today. 481 km of special took us from San Juan to Villa Carlos Paz and nobody expected such a fight between these two marks without being the drivers of Peugeot in the middle.
On a terrain that was more favourable to the qualities of their Toyota have imposed a pace that has only managed to continue Nasser Al Attiyah. The Qatari perhaps hoped to push De Villiers into making a mistake and as a result leave the way open for his team-mate Hirvonen, in fourth place, 5’23” behind the South African.
The Finn landed the knock-out blow in the last 20 kilometres to pick up his first rally-raid victory, ahead of his team-mate to give Mini a 1-2 finish.
As regards the overall, Stéphane Peterhansel “Mr. Dakar” and his Peugeot DKR 2008 now boast a lead of more than 40 minutes over Nasser Al Attiyah (Mini) and 1 hour and 7 minutes over Giniel De Villiers.
Miko Hirvonen said: “It was a very difficult stage. The rhythm was changing all the time. Straight away when you think it’s a fast section, there’s a really tight corner and you nearly go off. It was a tricky stage, there were no punctures or anything. I don’t know if it’s going to be enough. I wasn’t feeling so good with my speed all the time. We’ll see when the others get to the finish how it will be. In the end, we were a little bit faster than Nasser. Like I said, I was not feeling so confident with the speed all the time, when it’s so tricky and I really wanted to avoid punctures, which we did, but maybe that lost us a little bit of time. So far it’s been really good. That was kind of something I was relying on as well. I was thinking if I can avoid any mistakes, maybe I can finish in the top five and be close to it. Now we just have one day to go, so hopefully we can do it. It has been fantastic. The first week was a bit of a surprise, with how much we used normal roads and stages, but the second week has been fantastic, even though it has been really tough. But that’s something I was expecting. If I can, I really want to come back. So far it has been proving to work really well, but mistakes can happen to anyone. Others have made small mistakes that have cost them a lot of time, but it can happen to anyone, at any time in any race. But so far I’ve been okay. I’m sure I still have a lot of things to learn, like Nasser for example: on some sections he was driving at unbelievable speeds. For sure, I have a lot to learn, but I’m really happy how it has been going for my first race”.
Tomorrow we may see a nice fight for third place in the overall!