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2012-01-03 22:20

WONDERLAND OF SAND: Russian Leonid Novitskiy blasts his Mini through a wasteland of volcanic sand on the 2012 Dakar Rally. Image: AFP


2012 Dakar Rally

2012-01-03 11:11

Polish driver Krzysztof Holowczyc took the overall lead in the Dakar Rally here on Tuesday - with South Africa's Giniel de Villiers up to third.

San Juan, Argentina - Polish driver Krzysztof Holowczyc took the overall lead in the Dakar Rally here on Tuesday after the third stage was won by Mini-driving team mate Spaniard Nani Roma.

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South Africa's Giniel de Villiers finished the day fourth, but moved up to third overall, only 1min40 behind the leader.

It was not a good day for overnight leader and former six-times Dakar motorcycling champion and three-times car winner France's Stephane Peterhansel who had two punctures and came home more than six minutes slower than Roma which put him back to fifth overall.


Roma took 2hr26min51 to cover the 208km drive, finishing 1min09 ahead of Holowczyc while Qatar's defending champion Nasser al-Attiyah was third in his Hummer, 1min29 behind.

Roma, 39, who won the motorbike race in 2004, said: "We were fortunate to set off later, follow the tyre tracks and see where to brake but all-in-all it's more important for us that we drove really well, rather than win the stage.”

His best finish in the car section was third in 2006.

Earlier, France's three-times champion Cyril Despres enjoyed a crushing victory in the 270km third stage of the motorcycling section. He had a bad start to the race but regained time on Monday to take the overall lead as his main rival, KTM team mate and defending champion Marc Coma, had an awful day to finish seventh, more than 13 minutes behind the day’s winner.


Coma was philosophical about his off-day caused by getting lost. "Monday was my day, today definitely wasn't!" he laughed. He won Monday's stage. “After 170km there was a different track for the bikes and the cars. I checked the road book and thought I was on the right track but then I saw that wasn't the case because the next note was after eight km and it wasn't correct, so I turned around!

"16km is a lot! So, after that, I went on the attack to try to regain some time but today was difficult, even if the scenery was spectacular... Well, in the end, I've lost 13 minutes. It’s a lot but, when you make a mistake, you shouldn't be surprised that the gaps open up.

“That's racing for you."

Despres took 3hr48min38 to beat home Dutch rider Frans Verhoeven by 8min37 while Portugal's Paulo Goncalves was third another two seconds behind.

The 37-year-old has an overall lead of 10min12 over Coma, who had gone into the stage nearly three minutes ahead of his team mate.

Despres refused to gloat over Coma's error: "Over the last 50km I couldn't see many tyre tracks so I wasn't sure that Marc was up ahead. In the end I finished first and I've been told that he chose the wrong track so that's going to be to my advantage.

It's good for my position, even if I'm never happy about other people's setbacks."


A French motorcyclist was in a critical condition this afternoon after being found unconscious in remote sand dunes during the Dakar Rally in western Argentina. Three people involved in the event have been killed.

Officials at Teodoro J. Schestakow Hospital said Sebastien Coue apparently crashed during the second stage of the rally and was exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees before he was found.

His body temperature also went above 40, officials said. It was unclear how long he had been exposed to the extreme heat. Hospital director Armando Dauverne said: "He entered in a critical condition. We don't know how long he was exposed to the sun. Right now he is in intensive care."

The Dakar Rally, considered one of the most dangerous races in motorsport, has already claimed three lives this year. Argentine bike rider Jorge Martinez Boero died in a crash in Sunday's first stage. On the same day, the pilot of an ultralight plane and his son died when the aircraft went down while following the race.

The Dakar Rally is being held for the fourth straight year in South America. The endurance race took place in Africa from 1979-2007. It was moved to Argentina and Chile after fears of terrorist attacks in Mauritania led to a cancellation of the annual event in 2008.

Over 14 stages ending January 15 in Lima, Peru, 469 vehicles - cars, motorbikes, quads and trucks - started out to cover more than 8000km in total and more than 4000km of timed specials.

Peru will this year become the 27th country to host the Dakar rally in the more than three decades of its history.

Argentina is to host five stages but will probably be mostly a springboard for further action.

In Chile, in five stages, the race is to wind up through the Andes and the challenging Atacama Desert. Finally, in Peru, participants are to meet sand dunes that organizers bill as a major attraction.

Results from Day 3 of the Dakar Rally - San Rafael to San Juan:

Stage (208km special)
1 Nani Roma (ESP) Mini 2hr26min51
2 Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL) Mini +1min09
3 Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Hummer 1min29
4 Giniel de Villiers (RSA) Toyota +1min33
5 Robby Gordon (USA) Hummer +2min08
6 Orlando Terranova (ARG) Toyota +6min08
7 Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) Mini +6min23
8 Erik Van Loone (NED) Mitsubishi +7min03
9 Leonid Novitzkiy (RUS) Mini +7min18
10 Erik Wevers (NED) Mitsubishi +7min35
1 Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL) Mini 5hr51min06
2 Robby Gordon (USA) Hummer +54sec
3 Giniel de Villiers (RSA) Toyota +1min40sec
4 Nani Roma (ESP) Mini +1min50
5 Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) Mini +2min41
6 Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Hummer +6min34
7 Leonid Novitzkiy (RUS) Mini +14min53
8 Lucio Alvarez (ARG) Toyota +20min39
9 Ricardo Leal Dos Santos (POR) Mini +14min41
10 Erik Wevers (NED) Mitsubishi +26min06

Bikes (270km special)
1 Cyril Despres (FRA) KTM 3hr48min38
2 Frans Verhoeven (NED) Sherko +8min37
3 Paulo Goncalves (POR) Husqvarna +8min39
4 Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha +10min03
5 Alain Duclos (FRA) Aprilia +11min12
6 David Casteu (FRA) Yamaha +11min42
7 Marc Coma (ESP) KTM +13min04
8 Francisco Lopez (CHI) Aprilia +17min59
9 Gerard Farres (ESP) KTM +18min19
10 Pal Anders Ullevalseter (NOR) KTM +18min32
1 Cyril Despres (FRA) KTM 7hr31min42
2 Marc Coma (ESP) KTM +10min12
3 David Casteu (FRA) Yamaha +17min16
4 Francisco Lopez (CHI) Aprilia +17min37
5 Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha +19min49
6 Alain Duclos (FRA) Aprilia +20min47
7 Paulo Goncalvez (POR) Husqvarna +26min00
8 Pal Anders Ullevalseter (NOR) KTM +26min18
9 Javier Pizzolito (ARG) Honda +27min21
10 Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM +28min26

Car results shortly.

Bookmark Wheels24’s Dakar Rally section.

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