Lui Bin and Pornsiriched reach Atar late on Friday night
Four of the Tibau Team-run Mitsubishis suffered rear differential problems on the stage between Zouerat and Atar and each of the problems were caused by the same large rock hidden in the sand.
China's Lui Bin,
Thailand's Mana Pornsiriched, Brazil's Klever Kolberg and Russian Leonid Novitskiy all suffered rear transmission problems and had to wait for the assistance trucks before repairs were carried out.
"It was a hectic day and a long night," admitted Team Manager Jürgen Masal. "Everybody hit the same big stone and all seem to have had the same rear differential problem. For that reason they were all late. There is a lot of damage on all the cars and our mechanics have a very busy day to repair them and also complete the rest day service plan."
China's Lui Bin and French co-driver Serge Henninot arrived at the bivouac in 120th position on the stage. They entered the campsite at two minutes before midnight on Friday night, but maintained a place in the rally in 69th overall.
Thailand's Mana Pornsiriched and French co-driver Jean Brucy were also badly delayed and reached the camp site at 01.51 hrs on Saturday morning. They were classified 121st on the special, but were within their time limit and will restart from the rear of the field on Sunday, albeit in 84th position in the overall classification.
Brazilian Klever Kolberg held 54th position in the overall rankings at the start of the day's stage, but he too was badly delayed and reached the bivouac without completing the special stage. He was awaiting the organizers' decision on time penalties before he knew whether he would be able to continue on Sunday.
Frenchman Dominique Housieaux completed the stage as the first of the Tibau Team-run cars in 29th position in his Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero and now holds 22nd in the overall standings, while Russian Yaroslav Soloviev was classified 52nd overall and holds 50th.
Japan's Yoshio Ikemachi began the stage between Zouerat and Atar in 28th position, but suffered rear differential problems and was forced to wait for the assistance truck, which arrived at 03.00 hrs on Saturday morning to carry out repairs. The Japanese arrived in the Atar bivouac at around 11.
Russians Leonid Novitskiy and Alexey Berkut were also delayed: Novitskiy finished the stage in 61st position. Berkut rolled his Mitsubishi and, although he arrived at the Atar bivouac, technical officials withdrew his damaged L200 Triton from the event on safety grounds. "Unfortunately for us, Alexey appears to be out of the race," confirmed Masal. "It is annoying because the car was damaged in the accident and some of the tracking equipment is missing."
Tomorrow (Sunday) marks the first of three of the most difficult sections of this year's Dakar. A 35km liaison steers crews to the start of the longest stage of the entire rally – a potentially-daunting 589km section across the Mauritanian wastelands, via Tidjikja, to finish a mere two kilometres from the Tichit oasis.
Service vehicles are not allowed into the Tichit bivouac on this first and only Marathon section of the 29th Dakar Rally for cars. Instead, assistance vehicles and support personnel will make an arduous two-day trip, via the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott, to rejoin the rally in Néma on Tuesday afternoon.