Hall: Sec­ond half is cru­cial

The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Wes­ley Bo on

While he was pleased the lo­cal out­fit were still in con­tention at the Dakar Rally, Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA team prin­ci­pal Glyn Hall ad­mit­ted they were fac­ing a stress­ful sec­ond half of the race after two of their three driv­ers lost sig­nif­i­cant ground over the dunes of Peru.

Qatari driver Nasser al-At­tiyah (above) took sec­ond place on Fri­day’s fifth stage, more than 10 min­utes off the pace of Se­bastien Loeb (Peu­geot) who com­pleted the 517km leg be­tween Tacna and Are­quipa in 4:56:34.

Al-At­tiyah’s per­for­mance was good enough to re­tain his over­all lead, stretch­ing his ad­van­tage to nearly 25 min­utes over France’s Stephane Peter­hansel (Mini) head­ing into Satur­day’s rest day.

“To be in the lead of the Dakar is spe­cial, but to be at the head of the field with five stages to go is a cruel mix be­tween ela­tion and ter­ror,” Hall said ahead of the 309km sixth stage which was held late yes­ter­day.

De­spite hit­ting rocks and dam­ag­ing their ve­hi­cles last week, es­sen­tially elim­i­nat­ing them from hon­ours, South African driver Giniel de Villiers and Toy­ota Ga­zoo SA team-mate Bern­hard ten Brinke of the Nether­lands were still fight­ing fur­ther back.

De Villiers fin­ished ninth on the stage, climb­ing to 21st in the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion, and Ten Brinke was 10th, set­tling in 14th spot over­all.

“It is a mam­moth task to make sure ev­ery­thing is ready for the fi­nal week,” Hall said.

“But we’ve done this many times in the past and the lads know ex­actly how im­por­tant the work is, so I’m con­fi­dent that we’ll be in good shape for the sec­ond week.”

Mean­while, South African debu­tant Shameer Vari­awa (Nis­san) was forced to with­draw mid­way through the race, bring­ing his event to a close.

On the bikes, Ken­neth Gil­bert (BAS Dakar) con­tin­ued to lead the SA charge.

Gil­bert was in 27th po­si­tion, nearly three hours be­hind Amer­i­can leader Ricky Brabec (Honda), and coun­try­man Stu­art Gre­gory (KTM) was in 74th place with five stages re­main­ing.

Mam­moth task to make sure ev­ery­thing is ready for the fi­nal week. Glyn Hall Toy­ota Ga­zoo team prin­ci­pal

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