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Giniel's Hilux back at the top

2012-01-12 08:46

BACK WITH THE LEADERS: South Africa's Giniel de Villiers and his Toyota Hilux are back up with the Dakar leaders after Wednesday's stage.

CHARMAINE FORTUNE

ARICA, Chile - The underdog has shown his teeth again... Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) and Dirk von Zitzewitz (Germany) will start fourth overall when the Dakar Rally moves into uncharted terrain in Peru today (Jan 12).

They finished third-fastest on the final stage in Chile on Wednesday which took the toughest motorsport marathon in the world north from Iquique to Arica. As a result, the 2009 Dakar winners gained a position in the overall rankings and continue to far exceed expectations.

NO NAV ERRORS

They continued their reliable but consistently impressive drive, astutely avoiding damaging their privately run Imperial Toyota Hilux on tricky terrain.

They also avoided any navigation mistakes, although the organisers had made this aspect particularly difficult. The route through the Pampa del Tamarugal began with a loop between the salt formations of the Salar de Llamara in the east and the Salar Grande in the west, initially on hard ground littered with debris which regularly threatened to damage the suspension.

De Villiers said later: “It was an extremely tiring stage on which you really had to be alert. You had to take care at the beginning because of all the stones and there was fesh-fesh sand everywhere.

“Crossing the dunes was not exactly easy either as it was hard to make out the crests in that light. Dirk did a perfect job of navigating today – all in all, we can be very happy.”

IMMEDIATE BENEFIT

After 219 of the 377 timed kilometres the drivers were faced with dunes and sandy routes, before returning to gravel for the final section towards the border between Chile and Peru.

Right at the start of the stage De Villiers immediately benefited from the misfortune of rival Krzysztof Holowczyz in the highly fancied X-raid Mini who had damaged his steering, allowing the South African Hilux to move into fourth overall.

The Imperial team has not dropped outside the top five since the 2012 Dakar started – a result they could hardly have hoped for. Now De Villiers Von Zitzewitz must overcome four more stages before the final push. From today (Jan 12) onwards Peru will host the desert rally for the first time, making it officially the 27th country to stage the Dakar since 1979.

The maxim "expect the unexpected" applies even more here.

The hot favourites from the X-raid Mini team claimed the top two spots on Wednesday’s stage – Joan ‘Nani’ Roma finishing ahead of Stéphane Peterhansel, the latter still on course for overall victory and is 19 minutes ahead of his team mate Roma.

Dakar Rally stage and overall classification after Stage 10

Stage

1 Roma (ESP), Perin (FRA) Mini 3hr59min37
2 Peterhansel (FRA), Cottret (FRA) Mini +00min21
3 De Villiers (ZAF), Von Zitzewitz (GER) Toyota +07:44
4 Gordon (USA), Campbell (USA) Hummer +14min14
5 Ten Brinke (NLD), Baumel (FRA) Mitsubishi +29min47
6 Dos Santos (PRT), Fiuza (PRT) Mini +31min56
7 Novitzkiy (RUS), Schultz (GER) Mini +31min56
8 Sousa (PRT), Garcin (FRA) Great Wall +43min47
9 Garafulic (CHL), Picard (FRA) BMW +44mn37
10 Alvarez (ARG), Graue (ARG) Toyota +53min44

Overall

1 Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F), Mini, 28h41m12
2 Joan ‘Nani’ Roma/Michel Périn (E/F), Mini, 29h00m17
3 Robby Gordon/Johnny Campbell (USA/USA), Hummer, 29h01m03
4 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Imperial Toyota, 29h42m45
5 Leonid Novitzkiy/Andreas Schulz (RUS/D), Mini, 30h42m07
6 Carlos Sousa/Jean-Pierre Garcin (P/F), Great Wall, 31h09m05
7 Bernhar Ten Brinke/Matthieu Baumel (NL/F), Mitsubishi, 32h39m03
 
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