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Dakar Stage 11: Giniel in 3rd

2014-01-17 14:58

LEADING THE CHARGE FOR SA: South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz have picked up 13 punctures in the Dakar to date and are holding on to fifth place overall. Image: AFP

PETER BURROUGHES

Despite three punctures, South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers  and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux) scored their third podium finish with third place during Stage 11 of the 2014 Dakar Rally.

The 2009 Dakar winners finished 12m38 seconds behind stage winners Orlando Terranova and co-driver Paulo Piuza (Mini), who knocked them back from fourth to fifth overall. In second place, 10m57 behind, were current overall leaders Nani Roma and Michel Perin (Mini).

MINI IN CHARGE

Roma/Perin lead Mini team mates and defending champions Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret by 5m32 with just two stages remaining before the end in Valparaiso on January 19 2014.

Mini’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Lucas Cruz are third (56m01 behind) and Terranova/Piuza trail by 1h03m39 back, though the pair are 12m18 ahead of De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz.

Stage 11 was the third-longest special stage of the event after stages four and ten, covering 605 km of mine tracks, river crossings and the sand dunes of Copiapo between Antofagasta and El Salvador.

‘WE SUFFERED 13 PUNCTURES SO FAR’

De Villiers: “I was trying to be careful today. It was a good stage. We caught up with two of the Minis in the rocky section but then had our first puncture. We caught up with them again and they just pulled away from us in the sandy hills. We caught them for a third time in a rocky section, but then we had a second puncture.

“We hit a rock in the road very hard about 30km from the finish and picked up another puncture – we have now had 13 punctures so far, the most I’ve ever had on the Dakar. Otherwise the car went very well and we had no problems. We have another long day tomorrow and anything can happen.” 

TOYOTA’S DAKAR ROOKIES

Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie improved their overall position from 43rd to 33rd. The pair started 85th on the road behind 48 cars and 32 trucks.

They also suffered three punctures and were forced to drive the last 100km slowly as they had no spare tyres.

Toyota’s SA privateers Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr continued to impress, bringing home their Hilux in 50th place on the stage and 25th overall despite being slowed by two punctures and having to contend with the dust of the 21 cars and 12 trucks that started ahead of them.

The Toyota Land Cruisers of Jun Mitsuhashi and Alain Guehennic and team mates Nicolas Gibon and  Akira Miura improved their overall positions to 20th and 21st respectively after finishing 24th and 23rd in the stage. The crews retain first and second place in the T2 class for production vehicles.  

Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura (Hino) and Sugawara’s son Yoshimasa and co-driver Katsumi Hamura (Hino) improved their overall positions in the T4 truck category to 12th and 28th overall. 

PENULTIMATE STAGE 
 
The penultimate stage of the 2014 Dakar Rally covers 699km of which 350 are a racing section between El Salvador and La Serena.

It will be another high-altitude start for competitors as they hope to avoid the Camanchaca (dense fog in the region). Sand will once again feature, with a large string of dunes at the end of the stage. It will not be a time for the current podium contenders to take risks.
   
The cars will start the racing section from the bivouac at 3:18pm (SA local time) and will complete the closing liaison section from 12:20am.

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