Wow, what a topsie turvey couple of days. Stage 2 seemed to be relatively straight forward but saw two of the top competitors—Nani Roma (BMW) and Orlando Terranova (Mitsu) both rolling their cars on the same exact corner. With everyone having to run their desert tires (per rules can't change tread design during race) in the rain and mud, the track was super slick.
Qatari Nassar Al-Attiyah (VW) took the day's stage win followed by Chicherit (BMW), Neves (VW), Sainz (VW), and Miller (VW) rounding out the top five. Mark Miller also represents the top American on the day.
The top Nissan came from the Dessoude team from France with Christian Lavielle taking 7th on the day only 6:14 adrift of Al-Attiyah. Krysztof Holowczyc and his Navara finished 13th and Alfie Cox in 17th and Alexander Mironenko in 24th.
Stage 3, earlier today, is where things start to get REALLY crazy...First you have last years champion, Ginel DeVilliers (VW) had major engine issues, has yet to show that he crossed the finsh and may very well be out of the race (stood 6th overall before the day started). Additionally there were multiple issues with Robby Gordon's Hummer team in which his vehicle got stuck in the dunes, went backward on the course for 11 KM and blew an inflation line(?). His compatriots in the other two Hummers blew a clutch and had to be towed in (Chilean team) and cracked a transfer case (BJ Baldwin). Gordon's support team is limping on its last legs and may not be of much use the rest of the way. Gordon himself finished 12th on the day more than 1 hour adrift.
As bad as this sounds, numerous teams remain out on the course as we speak with 87 showing in one way or another having crossed the finish though well over 120 started the day....All this and its only 3 days into a 14 day event. Larger shakeups are sure to come.
The Nissans? Well, they had a heck of a day. Teammates Cox and Holowycz caravaned together over the final 100 or so KM finishing at nearly the same time, impressing all with a 5th and 6th place finish for the day. Lavielle and Mironenko had a bit tougher of a time but both finished well ahead of most entrants completing the course in 21st and 23rd.
With the start of tomorrow's stage pushed back AND shortened due to the difficulty of today's stage the competitors will liason over the Andes early on and face a lot of sand during the special itself. The big guys will continue to suffer attrition at an alarming rate. As in the '09 Dakar, if the Navaras/Frontiers can hold themselves together, they will continue to move up the rankings...
Top 4 Nissans in '10 Dakar: