Through consistency GWM/Haval’s Christian Lavieille had moved up to sixth position overall following Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally, only to see much of his hard work undone when he received a one-hour penalty for missing a check point in Stage 6. This saw the Number 315 Haval H8 drop back to tenth place overall.
Having already lost early pacesetter Carlos Sousa in Stage 2, the latest misfortune to hit the GWM/Haval team has however not dampened spirits. At the camp in Salta, Dong Ming, commander-in-chief of the Haval Dakar Team, explained in an interview that he considered the results satisfactory and the frustration acceptable.
“Our performance can be described as ‘up and down’”, said Dong. “We notched up our first stage win but suffered the first withdrawal over the five years since we joined the rally. Luckily, Christian was stable and got a good place in spite of competing alone, laying a solid foundation for the second half.”
Following the penalty and resultant drop to tenth overall, the temptation is certainly there to up the pace, but the GWM/Haval team will not throw caution to the wind. “We can afford to wait,” said Dong, pointing out that the fierce competition up front is likely to result in retirements.
Certainly, in Stage 7 Lavieille continued at much the same pace as before, clocking the 13th fastest time, and maintaining tenth overall. The stage was won by Carlos Sainz in his SMG Buggy.
The standings following Stage 7:
1. Roma/Perin #304 (Mini) = 27 hours 3 minutes 54 seconds
2. Peterhansel/Cottret #300 (Mini) + 31 minutes 53 seconds
3. De Villiers/Zitzewitz #302 (Toyota) + 48 minutes 23 seconds
4. Terranova/Fiuza #307 (Mini) + 54 minutes 34 seconds
5. Al-Attiyah/Cruz #301 (Mini) + 1 hour 18 minutes 24 seconds
6. Sainz/Gottschalk #303 (SMG Buggy) + 1 hour 50 minutes 42 seconds
7. Dabrowski/Czachor #328 (Toyota) + 2 hours 30 minutes 47 seconds
8. Holowczyc/Zhiltsov #309 (Mini) + 2 hours 30 minutes 52 seconds
9. Villagra/Perez Companc #330 (Mini) + 2 hours 52 minutes 57 seconds
10. Lavieille/Garcin #315 (GWM/Haval) + 3 hours 7 minutes 6 seconds