The YPF Competicion Ford Ranger pairing of Federico Villagra and Andrés Memi wiped the slate clean after Thursday’s problems and enjoyed a clean run through the sixth special stage of the 2015 Dakar Rally between Antofagasta and Iquique in northern Chile on Friday.
The 45-year-old Argentine claimed the 23rd quickest time on the special and moved up six places to an unofficial 39th overall, as teams reached the overnight halt by the Pacific Ocean in Iquique.
When all the tail-enders had reached Antofagasta in the early hours of Friday morning, Villagra was awarded the 57th quickest time on the stage after his electrical problems and began the sixth stage into Iquique in 45th overall.
“It was disappointing for us on Thursday,”
“We started very fast in the stage and we were recovering many positions and overtaking numerous cars. But there was an electrical problem and we had to stop and fix it. It took a couple of hours to solve. We regained the power and were able to continue the race. It was hard but we were able to arrive at the bivouac and make the necessary repairs.”
The Argentine’s YPC Competicion Ford Ranger was forced to start the day’s 647km timetable from 59th position on the road of the 82 surviving cars. Together with the trucks, cars tackled a liaison of 322km and a shorter special of 277km, as opposed to the 318km of competition on offer for the bikes and quads. There was a 26km neutralisation (non-competitive) section for all competitors shortly after the start and a 48km link from the end of the stage into Iquique.
Villagra’s Ford reached the waypoint in the middle of the neutralisation zone, after 69km, in a virtual 38th on the stage and he maintained that position to the next waypoint. The Córdoba driver had moved up three places at WP4, after around 180km, and went on to reach the stage finish in an unofficial 23rd.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah began the day with an overall advantage of 10min 35ec over Giniel de Villiers and pipped the South African by 37 seconds to claim his fourth stage win of the 2015 Dakar. The result meant the Qatari extended his lead over the South African to 11min 12sec. Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi retained third overall on his Dakar debut.
South Racing is looking after Villagra’s on-event logistics and day-to-day management under the directorship of the experienced Scott Abraham and his team. Villagra’s Ford Ranger was prepared and developed in South Africa by Neil Woolridge Motorsport.
In addition to Argentine energy company YPF, Villagra’s Dakar programme is being supported by suspension and OEM parts company Fric Rot, Brenson (Dealer Ford), Piamontesa and construction company Natania. OMP, Michelin, Rudy Project and Gold Nutrition have provided technical assistance.
Tomorrow (Saturday, January 10), there is an official rest day for the bikes and quads in Iquique, but there is no respite for the car and truck crews. A liaison of 392km guides teams to the start of a new 321km special stage to a finish close to the overnight halt at Uyuni in Bolivia.
Cars and trucks will return across the frontier into Chile on Sunday, while the bikes and quads tackle the stage crossed by the cars on Saturday. Monday, January 12th will then be a rest day for the car and truck crews in Iquique and the second section of the Bolivian special for the bikes and quads.