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DAK Villagra and Memi begin their climb back through the Dakar field into San Juan

37th Dakar Argentina-Bolivia-Chile (January 3-17, 2015)
Stage 2: Villa Carlos Paz – San Juan
liaison, 26km; special, 518km; total, 544 km.

VILLAGRA AND MEMI BEGIN THEIR FORD RANGER’S CLIMB
BACK THROUGH DAKAR RALLY FIELD ON STAGE INTO SAN JUAN

· Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah wins second successive stage to regain Dakar lead
· Dakar Rally heads across remote northern Argentina towards foothills of Andes

SAN JUAN, ARGENTINA, January 5, 2015 – Federico Villagra and Andrés Memi produced a dramatic fight back through the field on the longest stage of the entire 2015 Dakar Rally - a 518km special between Villa Carlos Paz and San Juan - in Argentina on Monday.

After propshaft issues and the loss of 83 minutes on Sunday, the Argentine pairing’s YPF Competicion Ford Ranger was classified 132nd of the 135 cars still running in the world’s toughest off-road motor sport event at the start of the day’s stage, but a solid performance had catapulted the Ford Ranger back to an unofficial 51st overall at 23.50hrs CET.

Only one of the original 136 cars was not able to make the start of the daunting special across the north-west of the country to a finish at the town of San Juan.

Villagra was reseeded from the rear of the field to start the stage 37th on the road for safety reasons. The Dakar also had a new leader as well; Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah had been handed a two-minute penalty for speeding in a restricted zone on Sunday evening and this handed the overall advantage to Argentina’s Orlando Terranova.

After a short liaison of just 26km from the bivouac, Monday’s special stage climbed gradually to an altitude of just under 2,000 metres above sea level after leaving Villa Carlos Paz, before teams descended into flatter, open terrain for several hundred kilometres on the run in to San Juan.

Despite having to pass numerous slower cars, Villagra’s Neil Woolridge Motorsport-prepared Ford Ranger recorded the 45th quickest time and had climbed 81 places in the general classification on Monday evening.

The Ford was running in a virtual 14th overall on the climb through the first official waypoint check and maintaining 15th after 90km of the special. By the 200km point, the Argentine was running in a virtual 20th position before slipping back a little during the second part of the demanding day’s timed test to take 45th on the stage.

Al-Attiyah, meanwhile, soon reversed his previous evening’s time penalty and led the stage from the start to regain a lead that he had extended over South African stage runner-up Giniel de Villiers to 7min 42sec by the time he reached San Juan.

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.

The Germany-based company South Racing is looking after Villagra’s on-event logistics and day-to-day management under the directorship of Scott Abraham.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, January 6), teams tackle a shorter, but potentially more challenging, stage between San Juan and Chilecito in Argentina.

Car entrants will tackle a 284km special after a short liaison from San Juan. The intended route passes through the Argentine province of La Rioja to the rural town of Chilecito, located in a fertile valley and surrounded by the spectacular backdrops of the Sierras de Velazco mountain range to the east and the Sierras de Famatina to the west.

Ends

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Date issued: 05/01/2015

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