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MINI ALL4 Racing crews show true grit at the start of the second week of the 2016 Dakar Rally. Five MINI ALL4 Racing in the top ten at end of Stage 8.

Day 10: Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and co-pilot Mathieu Baumel (FRA) showed great determination and skill amongst the sand and rocks of Stage 8 to take the win. From the start of the Special Stage, the AXION X-raid Team (#300) crew swept into the lead by Waypoint 1 and held first place until Waypoint 8.

After losing the lead by Waypoint 9, Nasser then pushed even harder to eventually cross the finish line 12 seconds ahead of the second placed car. Nasser is now third overall and has reduced the time variation to leader Peterhansel to just 14:43m.

“It is a good feeling to win the very first stage after the rest day,” said Al-Attiyah. “We put a lot of pressure on our competitors and our target now is to put even more pressure on them in the next two to three days and to win Dakar. That is why we are here. From the beginning of today we took the advantage and pushed a lot. The last part wasn’t easy but we took the win. We open tomorrow first on the road so we will push and push again.”

The first desert stage of the 2016 Rally Dakar produced a great day’s racing. Not just because of the driving skill required in the sandy terrain but also the need for pinpoint directions from all of the MINI ALL4 Racing co-drivers.

Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) experienced a Dakar desert stage for the first time and, with the experienced co-driver Michel Périn (FRA) by his side, Hirvonen ended the day in his AXION X-raid Team MINI ALL4 Racing (#315) with a fine fifth.

Hirvonen: “They weren’t proper dunes really, to me. It was more like fesh-fesh and proper off-road surface. I enjoyed it, though. It was more like traditional off-road racing. Otherwise, it wasn’t too bad and we’re ok.”

Stage 8 also saw the excellent form of Spanish pairing of Joan ‘Nani’ Roma / Alex Haro of AXION X-raid Team come into play in grand style. They placed their MINI ALL4 Racing (#304) to sixth spot at the end of Stage 8. This now makes them the third MINI ALL4 Racing inside the overall top ten.

Roma: “It wasn’t too bad this morning but then the central diff locked. I tried to unlock it, but it wasn’t possible, so I said ‘ok, we go like that’. In the straight lines it was ok but on the twisties it is difficult to go fast all the time. Near the finish I had a slow puncture but we got there. Alex did a very good job with navigation today.”

Orlando Terranova (ARG) and co-driver Bernardo ‘Ronnie’ Graue (ARG) continued to push their AXION X-raid Team MINI ALL4 Racing (#310) and scored seventh place, just 1:28m behind their fellow AXION X-raid Team crew of Roma / Haro.

“A nice stage,” said Terranova. “We started more or less in 17th and it was difficult in the first section to overtake. We caught several competitors and then we lost several minutes. Tomorrow we start in a good position and this will be very good for us.”

The Dutch crew of Erik van Loon and Wouter Rosegaar (Van Loon Racing #306) maintained their consistency by finishing the day in 10th to retain 11th overall in the standings.

2016 Dakar Rally: Day Ten, Stage 8, Salta – Belén, 766km. MINI ALL 4 Racing standings:

Position Driver Co-driver # Team Time
3 Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Mathieu Baumel (FRA) 300 AXION X-raid Team 026:16:27 +00:14:43
4 Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Michel Périn (FRA) 315 AXION X-raid Team 026:38:26 + 00:36:42
10 Joan ‘Nani’ Roma (ESP) Alex Haro (ESP) 304 AXION X-raid Team 027:30:05 +01:28:21
11 Erik van Loon (NDL) Wouter Rosegaar (NDL) 306 Van Loon Racing 027:31:48 +01:30:04
13 Harry Hunt (GB) Andreas Schulz (GER) 323 X-raid Team 027:47:18 +01:45:34
15 Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygonski (POL) Andrei Rudnitski (BLR) 327 ORLEN Team 028:09:06 +02:07:22
16 Orlando Terranova (ARG) Bernardo “Ronnie” Graue (ARG) 310 AXION X-raid Team 028:11:16 +02:09:32
18 Boris Garafulic (CHL) Filipe Palmeiro (POR) 313 X-raid Team 028:28:15 +02:26:31
55 Nazareno Lopez (ARG) Sergio Lafuente (URU) 351 X-raid Team 040:55:23 +14:53:39

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