DAK Ford Ranger crew of Villagra and Memi safely through penultimate Dakar stage
37th Dakar Argentina-Bolivia-Chile (January 3-17, 2015)
Stage 12: Termas de Rio Hondo - Rosario
liaison, 726km; special, 298km: total, 1,024km.
FORD RANGER CREW OF VILLAGRA AND MEMI
SAFELY THROUGH PENULTIMATE DAKAR STAGE
· Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah edges closer to second Dakar title; stage win for Terranova
· Battle weary Dakar crews reach Rosario and face one more hurdle to Buenos Aires
ROSARIO, ARGENTINA, January 16, 2015 – Federico Villagra and Andrés Memi have had the bit between their teeth over the last few days and produced another sterling performance in their YPF Competicion Ford Ranger on the penultimate 298km special stage of the 2015 Dakar Rally, between Termas de Rio Hondo and Rosario, on Friday.
Sixty-eight crews began the stage, which finished just north of Villagra’s home city of Córdoba. The Argentine pair began the day in 29th overall and were seeded 26th for the start of the stage behind Frenchman Cyril Despres. Outside the top 20, cars left the start in 30-second intervals. “I was very happy with the work done over the last couple of days,” admitted the Argentine before the start of the special.
“It was a really interesting and fun day yesterday,” added Memi. “We have overcome numerous cars and achieved a great time. I enjoyed the way Federico managed his pace on the roads through Tucumán.”
Villagra held a virtual 26th through the first 50km checkpoint in the day’s special and climbed a position after 85km. He continued to press on and was 24th after 150km and went on to reach the stage finish in 21st position, a mere three seconds behind Despres.
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah began the penultimate special stage with a lead of 29min 01sec over his long-time closest challenger Giniel de Villiers. With the pressure off, it was a matter of keeping out of trouble and staying focused for the 2011 winner. He reached the finish in third place and takes an advantage of 35min 39sec into the final stage on Saturday. Argentina’s Orlando Terranova claimed a fourth stage win.
South Racing is looking after Villagra’s on-event logistics and day-to-day management under the directorship of Scott Abraham and his team. Villagra’s Ford Ranger was prepared and developed in South Africa by Neil Woolridge Motorsport.
“Federico continues to do a great job for the whole team and has shown perfect mastery of the Ford Ranger,” said Abraham. “Hopefully he will have a clean run through the final stage and achieve our target of the finish in Buenos Aires.”
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 17), is the final day of what has been one of the most demanding Dakar rallies since the world’s greatest off-road race graced the African continent. It’s a short day by recent standards, but no less important.
In a total distance of 393km, from Rosario to the finish in Buenos Aires, race officials have only planned a short special stage of 174km, but teams will be hearing every creak and groan from their vehicles over those last nervy kilometres.
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