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2012-01-02 09:13

PROUD IN SA: Alfie Cox (left) and co-driver Jürgen Schröder with their Dakar-ready off-road Volvo. Today the car is just ashes.


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.

Alfie Cox, a former South African motorcycle hero in the Dakar Rally, and his German co-driver Jürgen Schröder could only watch as their Pewano PS Laser Volvo XC60 RR burned out during the first stage of the 2012 Dakar Rally. 

A devastated Cox explained on Sunday: “We were racing at the pace of the front-runners, the car was absolutely stunning. I did not have to fight to keep up the speed and I enjoyed every moment of the drive as the car was so easy to control.

"About 30km into the stage the power-steering failed and the next moment my side of the car was engulfed in flames. We immediately tried to extinguish the fire but it was just not possible. Fortunately we managed to escape from the burning car but the entire team is really shaken-up and very, very disappointed.”


Cox and Schröder were lifted from the scene by a rescue helicopter.

“Some of the support crew were in tears this afternoon," Cox added. "With the car gutted, it is not possible to determine what caused the fire, but we believe a hydraulic pipe leaked.

"The hydraulic oil sprayed on to the turbo-charger which, at race  speeds, gets red-hot, and that ignited.

“it could have been much worse, the most-feared moment for any racing driver is to be caught in a burning vehicle. We escaped but are shocked, and disillusioned but otherwise fine. I feel truly sorry for the team; they worked really hard to prepare the car, they were very excited, because this was the first time they could measure their hard work against other competitors.

DREAM DEAD IN THE DESERT: The Pewano PS Laser Volvo XC60 RR of Alfie Cox and Jürgen sends a pyre of smoke up into the Argentinian dunes as it burns out on Day 1 of the 2012 Dakar Rally.

"It was the first Volvo to race in a Dakar. We will re-group and plan our way forward.” 

The stage was won by the Minis of Novitskiy (Russia), Holowczyc (Poland) and Peterhansel (France) with South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers fourth with his new V8 Toyota Hilux.

Defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah (UAE) also experienced technical problems With his Hummer 3 and was towed to the finish line by team-mate Robby Gordon.

In the Bike category the Aprilia of Contardo Lopez (Chile) leads ahead of defending champion KTM-rider Marc Coma (Spain) and Javier Pizzolito (Argentina) on a Honda.

The Quad category was won by Sergio de la Fuente (Uruguay), ahead of local hero Marcos Patronelli (Argentina) and his countryman Lucas Maffei (Argentina) all racing Yamahas.

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