Dakar - Cars - Leg 13
With nothing to lose, Nani Roma stormed his Lancer forward today and took the penultimate stage win of this year's Dakar Rally.
It is a first stage victory and a consolation prize of sorts as well, not only for himself and co-driver Lucas Cruz,
but also for the Mitsubishi team – which has been watching over its sole remaining contender like a mother hen.
"This stage victory is a satisfaction for everybody," declared Roma. "Now, we are going to go back to Buenos Aires without taking too much risk. I am not disappointed at the end of this Dakar."
In the Volkswagen camp, the rally-leading drivers are running their Touaregs in formation. Giniel de Villiers and Mark Miller even stopped to allow Dieter Depping to catch up and play the role of guardian angel.
"I think we can call this a team stage. The most important is to reach the finish, particularly after losing a car yesterday," said de Villiers, referring to Carlos Sainz's crash.
With a maiden Dakar victory opening its arms to greet the VW effort at tomorrow's finish, team boss Kriss Nissen has issued his orders in an attempt to avoid any trouble on the final kilometres.
"The manager wanted us to drive like this today and we abide by the wishes of the team.
It's important for Volkswagen to finish the Dakar in first and second places," de Villiers underlined. "We don't want to take any chances anymore. It would be meaningless. We worked hard to get to this and throwing it all away on the last two stages would not be clever."
Robby Gordon raced by the Volkswagen trio, teasingly giving a few shouts from his Hummer's horn as he raced ahead... The Touareg convoy then followed Gordon without even a hint of pressuring the American.
With Sainz's accidental retirement yesterday, the Volkswagen team can no longer count on an all-blue Dakar Rally podium, but the first two steps can easily be theirs. The third step should have Gordon's name on it, despite losing about 20 minutes due to a mechanical problem which occurred after hitting a boulder.
Going into the rally's final stage on Saturday, de Villiers holds a 2'20" lead on teammate Miller, who in turn enjoys a 1:27'13" advantage on fellow countryman Gordon