Dakar Day 5: Top billing for Yamaha while the Minis hit back Nani Roma has taken his first stage win of this year's Dakar Rally, piloting his Mini to victory as the event reaches its fifth day.
The win consolidates Roma's fifth position in the rally, and he's hoping it won't be his last victory this Dakar.
"I felt good this morning," Roma said. "We drove well and tried to remain concentrated throughout the special, which was magnificent. It's all going well for us for the moment. Long may it continue."
Right behind him in second was the rally leader, reigning champion Stephane Peterhansel, who extended his margin atop the leaderboard after chief challenger Nasser al-Attiyah struggled.
With his buggy not as well-suited as the 4x4s to the days' terrain the Qatari lost five minutes to the leader, finishing the stage down in seventh.
"Not a very strong day," al-Attiyah said. "We made a navigation mistake and got lost a little bit, but, okay, we are here now."
Despite being out of contention for the win, Robby Gordon and Carlos Sainz are still pushing hard for stage wins, the American and Spaniard finishing third and fifth respectively.
Geoff Olholm again led the Aussie drivers home in 17th, slipping one spot to 13th in the overall standings, but said his Toyota Hilux is going strong.
"We are extremely happy to be running amongst the top twenty drivers all of whom have very fast cars," Olholm posted on his team's Facebook page.
"Overdrive and Hallspeed need a pat on the back for not only the fast and reliable car but also the organization and support they are giving us. It is truly a team effort and everyone is putting in 100%."
Bruce Garland lost more time on stage five after a hitting a rock and breaking bolts in his Isuzu D-Max's right rear suspension. He had to wait for teammate Adrian Di Lallo to arrive with spare parts, Garland finishing down in 96th, while Di Lallo finished 72nd.
In the motorbike class French riders continue to dominate, Yamaha's David Casteu taking his first stage win since 2010 from rally leader Olivier Pain.
Running a different stage to the cars, Casteu completed the 136-kilometre run in one hour, 39 minutes and 42 seconds to halve his overall margin to Pain.
"I arrived on this Dakar having taken stock, with the aim of enjoying each moment, each second," Casteu said. "I'm 38 years old and I'm going to take every day as it comes. I'm itching to ride flat out and today I had great fun."
Joan Barreda Bort's rollercoaster Dakar has hit another trough, the winner of yesterday's stage rolling to a halt after 98 kilometers with fuel pump problems.
He lost three hours to the leaders while fixing the issue, all but ending his hopes of winning this year's event.
Stopping to help the stricken Spaniard was his Australian teammate Matt Fish, who also now drops back to 55th overall.
Longreach local Rod Faggotter again led home the rest of the Australian contingent in 22nd, while Ben Grabham and Warren Strange both finished inside the top 50.
Strange's GHR Honda teammate Todd Smith bounced back from yesterday's massive disappointment to finish 44th.
The youngest Australian on Dakar this year, the 27-year-old looked set to finish inside the top 15 on stage four until breaking down with just 20 kilometers left in the stage.
"What a day," Smith said. "Probably the hardest day of my life filled with every emotion possible."
Simon Pavey also reported a tough day on stage five, taking to Twitter to illustrate just how tough the conditions were.
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