Defending Dakar Rally champion Nasser Al-Attiyah believes his Mini is strong enough to take advantage of the two-day period where cars cannot be serviced by anyone but the drivers themselves.
The Qatari driver completed yesterday's stage in two hours and eleven minutes, a time only good enough for third place on the day. Al-Attiyah lies in fifth place overall, six minutes and fifty seconds behind Peugeot's Sebastien Loeb.
"It was a good day [yesterday]. We tried to push in some places but from the beginning, there was a lot of rain. This was not very good for us. We tried to manage but in the last part, it was raining a lot and we lost a little bit of time, but I'm still quite happy," reflected the two-time Dakar winner.
Today's route that starts and finishes in Jujuy marks the beginning of a marathon-stage, a two-day period that prohibits drivers from using their assistance teams. Marathon stages are a particular test of a drivers' ability to independently manage their own mechanics. Al-Attiyah is excited by this aspect of the Dakar and has identified it as an opportunity to gain time on Loeb.
"We start third and tomorrow [today] will be the key of the Dakar, the marathon-stage, two days without any service. Our car is strong and we will push tomorrow [today]," he said.