In Stage 2, Ales Loprais adds another 2nd place
In the battle of Stage 2 eventually Ales Loprais claims 2nd position again. Fortunately, no more paralells with Dakar 2010!
324 kilometers of the second special nothwards from Cordoba to San Miguel de Tucuman were technical, rather covered with gravel andd stones especially in the final part. Ales started the special second, right after Chagin, but with Kabirov and Nikolaev shortly adrift, like in a blue sandwich, followed by a couple of competing Tatra trucks driven by Azevedo and Spacil. It was Chagin to push hard from the very beginning but the same was done by all three drivers of the Russian team. Chagin, Kabirov and Nikolaev occupid top three sports in the ranking, whereas Ales started 6th at WP1. Later, Ales climbed to 4th place and kept maintaining it. It the final part of the special, it was first Nikolaev to stop for 20 minutes (be it a puncture or some collision problem) and at the end of the stage also the leader Chagin lost some 15 minutes (reportedly after some mild collision), letting Kabirov win and Ales took the well deserved 2nd place, only 1m20s adrift of the Russian. Chagin finally finished 5th after Franz Echter and Andre Azevedo, another Tatra driver. Later they were followed by the rest of team de Rooy who proudly hold the team's flag high and also the Frenchman Adua did a good job, taking the 10th. Sadly, the rally lost one of the competing Tatra trucks after a heavy crash.
"It was a very technical stage, with multiple water crossings, also partly quite muddy and slippery as well. Some adrenaline was added too when we climbed a mountain of mud some 200 metres high. But surely, this is only the beginning of the race and one must always stay very focused. In this stage we already reached some of the latecomers in the car category, so we had to cross some clouds of dust. Sometmimes passing was smooth but behind one buggy we lost some precious time. But this simply belongs to this kind of racing and we must take it as it is. The machne works nice and we keep battling. But the way to the finish is way too long," Ales summarised the stage.
Minimum time gaps at the front of the ranking make the truck chase very interesting. Ales is 2nd, only 9 seconds adrift of Kabirov and 13 more seconds ahead of Chagin. These minimum gaps refer not only to the close competitveness of all top contenders but also to the wild and nervous beginning of the race stained by sad withdrawals of some favorites. It will be the Chilean part in the Atacama desert, which is to stretch the gaps in a matter of tens of minutes or even hours.
-source: Jiri Vintr