Navigation proved to be the key factor on the way to success for the Mini ALL4 Racing team during the ninth stage of the Dakar Rally as the navigators of three Mini ALL4 Racing crews delivered a one-two-three finish for the team. Nani Roma and his co-driver Michel Périn, racing for the Monster Energy Rally Raid Team, won the stage with a lead of more than six minutes over the Qatar Rally Team pairing Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel. Meanwhile the Russians Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov finished third. In the overall standings, Al-Attiyah extended his lead over Giniel de Villiers to nearly 24 minutes. Altogether, five MINI ALL4 Racing vehicles now hold top-10 positions.
“This win was for my guys,” Roma beamed. “It was a tough day but Michel did a fantastic job.” Al-Attiyah was also delighted: “What a great day. We succeeded in extending our lead massively and now, we have to defend this lead. The coming days won’t be easy, as I will have to stay focused – but we can make it. Today’s stage was the most difficult one of the entire Dakar.”
Konstantin Zhiltsov who already impressed with a great navigation performance some days ago once again delivered in fine style. “Navigating proved to be extremely difficult today as there were several tracks and you couldn’t see anything, in the Fech Fech,” he explained. “You believed to be on the right track but then, there was another, parallel one. The special waypoint was far away and if you missed the compass direction by just one or two degrees you were lost – at once.” With their fourth place, the Russians leaped from 12th to 8th position in the overall standings.
Krzysztof Holowczyc and his French navigator Xavier Panseri as well as the Argentinean Monster Energy Rally Raid Team pairing Orlando Terranova / Bernardo ‘Ronnie’ Graue unfortunately lost their way while looking for the waypoint, thus losing several minutes. At the end of the day, they finished sixth and seventh respectively. “Annoying as it cost us the chance of closing in on Yazeed,” said Holowczyc.
The two Dutchmen Erik van Loon and Wouter Rosegaar came tenth, during the stage. Unfortunately they missed a waypoint and got a penalty of 40 minutes. “We were searching this waypoint for around 30 minutes and then decided to move on, this seemed to be the best compromise for us,” van Loon explained the situation. Nevertheless the Dutch still holds the fifth place in the overall standings. Aidyn Rakhimbayev and Anton Nikolaev finished 13th and are tenth on aggregate.