Peugeot faltering my “only chance” for Dakar win - Hirvonen
X-Raid Mini driver Mikko Hirvonen says the only way for him to get back into the battle with the Peugeots in the 2017 Dakar Rally is through misfortune for the French marque's drivers.
Hirvonen was within striking distance of the car category lead four days in, before navigation woes cost him around 40 minutes in relation to the leaders during Friday's shortened Tupiza–Oruro test.
Now fifth overall and well adrift of the all-Peugeot top three and fourth-placed Nani Roma (Toyota), Hirvonen says he would need those ahead of him to encounter similar issues.
“It's 40 minutes, so [just] by driving there's no way we can catch it,” Hirvonen told Motorsport.com. “But, you know, if the same thing happens to them [like] what happened to us, then you never know.
“We're just going to go flat out, see if they have a problem - but that's the only chance, otherwise we'd just be cruising to the end.”
Hirvonen said he had been very happy with his second Dakar Rally prior to the navigation mishap.
“We were in a really good position, I was really happy, I was really feeling good,” the Finn said. “And especially the stages we did with all the technical stuff - even though we don't have the top speed, I know that on the technical areas we can fight with everyone else.
“So I was really happy with how it was going... but, you know, it's part of the race as well, navigation is tricky, and unfortunately we had a bit of an issue yesterday. Other than that, it was really going well.”
Al-Rajhi back in the race after illness recovery
Hirvonen's X-Raid Mini teammate Yazeed Al-Rajhi remains within the race, despite having initially made the decision to retire during Thursday's stage.
The Saudi driver had skipped the final part of the Jujuy-Tupiza test and was excluded from the classification by the organisers, only for Mini to lodge an appeal to keep Al-Rajhi, who was now feeling better, in the race.
“Before the start [on Thursday], I felt sick, I felt I couldn't drive,” Al-Rajhi explained to Motorsport.com. “With 10 minutes to go, I was lying on the floor - I said 'we try, if I'm sick in the middle of the stage, I stop.'
“I pushed myself until 190km - after I was lying on the floor, I couldn't drive. After a headache, I went off-stage and we went to service. After I rested, they gave me an injection. At night I slept at 3000 [metres altitude] and next day I felt better, I pushed okay, everything is okay.
“Now my health is good, that's the most important - and everything is okay. Now we are at 4000m, I feel healthy, we can fight during the stage."
Al-Rajhi said his goal for the rally was now to get mileage and experience, and to assist the X-Raid team if he needs support.
On whether he would chase headline times in the stages, the Saudi said: “No, it's stupid if you attack. What do you want to show everybody for nothing?
“And I think if you make a mistake, you are stupid also. We must be clever guys, finish with experience, a good speed and behind the team, that's most important.”
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