Rally China saw Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz finish the 157-km loop in 5th place. The pair lost time early in the stage when they ran into a tricky area with thick sand in the dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see. Even so, they pushed toward the end of the stage, retaining their second position in the overall standings.
“It was an unfortunate error on my part,” admitted De Villiers after completing the stage. “But we got going again, and made up time towards the end of the stage. The Toyota Hilux ran faultlessly throughout the stage, and we are happy that we’re getting more miles under the belt in preparation for Dakar 2018.”
De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz are still in second place overall, 05:47 off leaders Aorigele and navigator Qin Xu (Nissan). The leaders hail from the nearby town of Alxa, and local knowledge has certainly played a role in their performance.
Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Lucio Alvarez and navigator Cacha Rodríguez came through Stage 2 in the second-fastest time, moving their Toyota Hilux up to third place in the overall standings. They are now only 02:21 behind De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz, with Toyota Gazoo Racing SA now occupying second and third place in the overall standings.
“Today’s stage was a stern test,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal Glyn Hall, from the bivouac at the FB-Festival near the Inner Mongolian town of Alxa. “The average speed was around 50 km/h, showing just how tough the going was. Tomorrow’s stage is even longer, but we’re hoping for more flowing conditions.”
At 410 km in length, Stage 3 is the longest of Rally China 2017, and is likely to play a big role in determining the eventual outcome of the event. The entire rally moves nearly 1,000 km westward on Tuesday, September 26th, for three stages before shifting back to the base near Alxa.
The Dakar Series: Rally China is a 7-stage event, organised by the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO). The company is also the organiser of the Dakar Rally.