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Dakar stage 7: Uyuni salt flats

Today the cars tackle 533 kilometres while the bikes have to deal with 409 kilometres.

Toyota Hilux in the 2014 Dakar Rally.

ARGENTINA, Salta - Today sees the cars tackle 533 kilometres of special stage while the bikes will have to deal with 409 kilometres.

The megaloop means the competitors will remain in Salta while driving at an average altitude of almost 3,500 metres.

To make matters more interesting the cars will end things off by crossing a vast salt flat which will ensure high speeds and stunning views.

Third time Dakar Rally driver and Toyota Imperial Navigator Rob Howie told Derek Alberts he feels fortunate to be a part of the race.

"Last year we started in Peru so it was straight into the dunes and real tricky.

This year in Argentina with Leeroy who's also getting a grip of the race, we've had our ups and our downs and a successful part of stage one, third overall in stage three and then tough in stage four and five so, that's the Dakar, you take each day as it comes and you have to finish each stage.

Speaking of Leeroy Pault, Howie said his quick rally style is good for the rally stages, but he's expecting more accurate notes, and what he doesn't realise is that there aren't more accurate notes.

"He's got the skill, but I think he's not used to spending the whole day in the car. I'm used to racing cross country championships in South Africa."

From a navigational point of view Howie is finding things tricky when it comes to the rivers.

"They send you up river beds and you have to choose the right canyon. We haven't made any mistakes yet so that's good.

"There was a tricky way point two days ago which I knew was there and we had to go and find it, we did find it and many of top guys unfortunately didn't.

"It's cutting teeth stuff for Leeroy and I think he's enjoying the rest and I'll see what he thinks about Chile which is still coming.

Howie and his team are lying 29th overall but at one stage were in the top ten.

"We had two bad days just at the wrong time, yesterday was a gravel stage and you could have done that stage with a broken clutch or something because it's not difficult but on day five we had clutch issues, the sand getting inside.

"We needed a clutch so it was just the wrong technical problem at the wrong stage. Anything can happen at Dakar, the trick is just to keep chipping away."

In stage one reports said the team was the fastest on route with helicopters hovering above the team.

"Yes by CP1 we were leading, we passed two or three cars, it was getting a bit tricky in the dust. I think day three was our best finishing third overall - that was definitely one of my highlights in the three Dakar's I've done.

Asked what he is hoping to achieve, Howie said he just wants to finish every day without getting out of the car.

"If any South African can win this race, Giniel is the one that can do it. He's got massive experience with Dirk."

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