LA RIOJA, Argentina: Orlando Terranova delighted the home crowd here on Tuesday by becoming the first Argentinian driver to win a stage of the Dakar Rally.
The 33-year-old BMW driver — competing in his seventh Dakar Rally — came home 2min 07sec ahead of Monday’s stage winner Nani Roma in a Mini and the latter’s team-mate and defending champion Stephane Peterhansel was third another 12sec adrift.
Terranova was delighted with his victory and said that it had been a really smooth drive.
“We took the stage very easily, to not make a mistake because it was very narrow and it was possible to burst a tire or break some piece of the car,” he said.
“We want to continue like we have done. We are having a good race without mistakes.” Peterhansel, seeking his 11th win after six in the motorbike section and four in the cars category, extended his overall lead to 52min 38sec over South African Giniel de Villiers.
The 47-year-old Frenchman’s chances of winning the title again grew immeasurably when closest rival, Qatar’s 2011 champion Nasser Al-Attiyah had to pull out of the race after suffering mechanical problems on Monday’s stage.
Peterhansel admitted that he had changed his strategy now that Al-Attiyah had been forced out and conceded that it did not make for a great spectacle.
“For the race, for the show, it’s no good, for the suspense, it’s not really good, but for me it’s not so bad and it’s more comfortable,” he said.
“I can manage the car as well.
“I can manage for example the stage tomorrow and the stage at Copiapo which will be really complicated in the dunes. So if I have more time I’ll be able to manage the race, to wait to see the good places to cross the dunes, so it’s better for me for sure.” Earlier defending champion Cyril Despres took the overall lead in this year’s Dakar Rally on Tuesday after the 10th stage, a 636km ride including a 357km timed section from Cordoba to La Rioja.
The 38-year-old KTM rider had made his charge on Monday when, having been over 24 minutes off the pace, he stormed to his first stage victory of this year’s edition and on Tuesday he showed he was the man in form in finishing second in the stage.
Spaniard Joan Barreda Bort took the stage honors on his Husqvarna bike, finishing 1min 15sec ahead of Despres.
Despres, seeking his fifth Dakar title, leads overnight leader and teammate Ruben Faria by 1min 37sec in the overall standings in the race, which finishes on Sunday.
Despres said he was in good form and that his tactics of not racing all out throughout the Rally was paying off as it entered its decisive stages.
“Picking up seconds in the general standings is not the most important thing,” he said.
“What matters is making statements, making a difference, gaining in confidence and letting the racing do the talking. As a result, the general standings reflect that on paper in the evening.”