VILLAGRA AND MEMI CONTINUE CLIMB THROUGH DAKAR RALLY FIELD INTO CHILE
37th Dakar Argentina-Bolivia-Chile (January 3-17, 2015)
Stage 4: Chilecito - Copiapó
liaison, 594km; special, 315km; total, 909 km.
VILLAGRA AND MEMI MAINTAIN CONSISTENT PACE TO
CONTINUE CLIMB THROUGH DAKAR RALLY FIELD INTO CHILE
- Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah extends overall lead to 8min 15sec into Copiapó
- Dakar Rally crosses mighty Andes mountain range into Chile’s Atacama Desert
COPIAPÓ, CHILE, January 7, 2015 – The Argentine duo of Federico Villagra and Andrés Memi maintained their consistent pace and stayed out of trouble after crossing the Andes mountain range from Argentina into Chile to tackle a 315km special stage in the 2015 Dakar Rally on Wednesday.
The pair guided their Neil Woolridge Motorsport-prepared YPF Competicion Ford Ranger through the first competitive kilometres of the Atacama Desert into an overnight halt at Copiapó in 19th overall of the 96 cars that remained in the rally at the start of the day. The result meant that the 45-year-old Cordóba driver continued his climb into the provisional top 30 after dropping as far down the rankings as 132nd overall on the first day.
It was a very early start for competitors on day four of the Dakar, as the entire caravan of 139 surviving bikes, 37 quads, 96 cars and 59 trucks joined the myriad of organisational vehicles, service trucks and assistance cars in the climb through the foothills of the Andes and into the San Francisco Pass.
Heavy snow had fallen in the upland region overnight. The ascent reached an altitude of 4,800 metres, as the rally left Argentina and entered Chile before the descent to approximately 2,500 metres and the start of the fourth special through the Atacama Desert that featured around 40km of towering sand dunes to the finish in Copiapó.
The 594km liaison route also passed close to Ojos del Salado (6,893 metres), the highest active volcano in the world, and in close proximity to the awesome peak of Aconcagua (6,960 metres), the highest mountain in the world outside of Asia.
Villagra’s YPF Competicion Ford Ranger began the day 22nd on the road and classified in 49th position after he had made up a further three places in the general classification on the stage into Chilecito. The Argentine was running in 18th through 26km and slipped to 19th before the route reached the 139km point. He then regained two places after 200km before reaching the chequered flag in 19th.
“It was only a short third stage yesterday,” reflected Villagra. “But we still had to be careful to overtake so many cars during the day. The most important thing was to find a pace to maintain for consistency and a safe ride and that was the strategy going forward today and that will be the same for the next few days in Chile.”
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah began the day fifth on the road and holding an overall lead of 5min 18sec over South African Giniel de Villiers and the Qatari won his third stage in four days to extend his advantage over De Villiers to 8min 15sec. Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi is a surprise occupier of 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.
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 (Thursday, January 8), the Dakar route continues to wind north through the world’s longest country from Copiapó to the Pacific coastal mining hub of Antofagasta. During what promises to be another unpredictable and demanding day, Villagra’s YPF Competicion Ford Ranger will tackle a special stage of 458km through the sandy wastelands of northern Chile in a total day’s route of 697km.
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