The cars turned up at Thursday evening’s bivouac caked in mud, their competition numbers invisible, but their tires were in perfect shape, especially as the high altitudes of the Bolivian Altiplano – up to 4,722 metres – tended to sap engine power and put less strain on them. Their condition after Leg 6 was a positive pointer ahead of the next four stages which will all take place at high altitudes when action resumes on Saturday after the 40th-edition Dakar’s mid-event rest day.
The rally’s second half will kick off with a marathon leg that visits the celebrated salt flats en route to Uyuni where crews will have to count on their own resources if repairs are needed on their respective cars. They will no doubt bear this in mind as they judge their pace over the preceding 425 competitive kilometres if they want to minimise their evening’s workload at an altitude of almost 4,000 metres.
It’s been a positive opening week for BFGoodrich® despite the difficulties encountered on the first six stages. Three of the four Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi crews reached La Paz in strong positions, with Carlos Sainz posting Thursday’s best time, while five of the seven Toyota Hilux representatives at the start are still in contention and Mini’s Mikko Hirvonen (2WD) and Jakub Przygonski (4WD) figure inside the provisional top 10.
Amateurs Cristina Gutierrez and Markus Walcher are still running well, but the rest day will provide all the first week’s survivors with a very welcome respite!