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2012-01-09 08:15

SLEEPY SUNDAY: The Dakar programme calls it "a rest day" but Sunday was "a repairs day" for most teams - though a few lucky folk managed a kip in the sun. Image: AFP

Peter Burroughes

COPIAPO, Chile - It was another good day on the Dakar for South Africa's Mark Corbett and Francois Jordaan who finished Saturday’s 419km special stage in Copiapo, Chile, 24th in their CR4 buggy and are now 20th overall.
Stage seven, the longest of the rally so far, was the last before the eagerly awaited rest day in Copiapo on Sunday and it lived up to its reputation of always being difficult. Stifling heat (after the snow of San Francisco pass) and endless sand dunes took their toll. It started and ended from a bivouac at the foot of a giant sand dune in the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth (annual rainfall 12mm).

Corbett said: "We had a good run toda but there were some niggles that made life difficult." He was talking about two punctures and the failure of the radiator cooling fans, which caused the car to overheat in the dunes. The problem was solved by connecting the fans to the headlights' power supply but by then they had been overtaken by a number of trucks and battled to get past them in the dust.

"We caught some of the trucks in the dunes towards the end of the stage but lost more than an hour at the stage finish."
It's been an impressive Dakar debut for the South African pair in their Toyota-engined, two-wheel drive CR4 buggy. In the first four days they climbed from 60th at the start to 19th on Wednesday and were heading for perhaps 13th overall when they experienced clutch problems and lost two hours on Thursday, dropping to 22nd and fourth in the two-wheel drive category of the top T1 class.

Leading the rally overall at the halfway stage are the French pair Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret in an all-wheel drive Mini, 11 minutes ahead of team mates Krzysztof Holowczyc of Poland and Jean-Marc Fortin of Belgium.


Americans Robbie Gordon and Johnny Campbell are third in a Hummer ahead of Nani Roma of Spain and Michel Perin of France in another Mini.  South African Giniel de Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux are fifth with Toyota team mates Duncan Vos and Rob Howie 11th.
'Rest day' Sunday gave Corbett and Jordaan a chance to repair their Toyota-engined buggy before the marathon race continues on Monday with another challenging, 477km stage from Copiapo to Antofagasta.

Sand dunes will give way to stone-covered tracks as the Dakar caravan heads north towards its final destination in Lima, the capital of Peru, on January 15.

Copiapo, Chile - Defending champion Nasser al-Attiyah's roller-coaster Dakar Rally took another twist on Saturday when he won Stage 7 two days after a broken radiator dealt a potential hammerblow to his hopes.

It was the Qatari’s second 2012 stage win in his Hummer and he crossed the line 7min30 ahead of American team mate Robby Gordon.


Al-Attiyah lost 20 minutes on Thursday when the spare wheel on his vehicle came loose, damaged the radiator and caused the engine to overheat. He lost about 10 minutes on Stage 1 with mechanical trouble before bouncing back to claim Stage 2.

South Africa's Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Hilux) finished the stage sixth, 20min59 behind al-Attiyah. He is now fifth overall, 34min07 behind overall leader Peterhansel.

Overall leader Stephane Stephan Peterhansel finished third on Saturday in his Mini, 7min53 off the lead.


Spain's Marc Coma, riding a KTM, won Saturday’s motorcycle stage ahead of French team mate Cyril Despres but the latter kept the overall lead.

Coma covered the course in and around Copiapo in 3hr51min35, two minutes and three seconds faster than Despres.

"It's common knowledge that the stage before the rest day is always difficult and today was no exception, with stifling heat and very soft sand," Coma reported. “Nevertheless, we rode very fast and I was able to attack. I gained two minutes on Cyril but that is obviously not enough.”

Despres was critical of his own performance: "I was a bit lazy today, since Marc led the race from 200km onwards, the start of the second special, but I think that is also part of the race.

“I finished with my hands paralysed but it was a really beautiful special with beautiful dunes."

Portugal's Paulo Goncalves, on a Husqvarna, completed the top three on the first Chilean stage of this year's race, 2min49 off the pace.

Despres will go into Sunday's rest day with a 7min48 lead over Coma in the overall motorcycling standings.

Bookmark Wheels24’s Dakar Rally section.
2012 Dakar image gallery.
Results from Stage 7 of the 2012 Dakar Rally on Saturday, a 419km special (573km total) in and around Copiapo:


1 Al-Attiya (Hummer) 3hr26min57
2 Gordon (Hummer) +7min30
3 Peterhansel (Mini) +7min53
4 Holowczyc (Mini) +14min57
5 Roma (Mini) +15min19
6 De Villiers (Toyota) +20min59
7 Dos Santos (Mini) +20min25
8 Novitskiy (Mini) +31min28
9 Sousa (Geat Wall) +39min48
10 Ten Brinke (Mitsubishi) +44min42

1 Peterhansel (Mini) 15hr32min53
2 Holowczyc (Mini) +11min22
3 Gordon (Hummer) +13min09
4 Roma (Mini) +18min05
5 De Villiers (Toyota) +34min07
6 Al-Attiyah (Hummer) +42min44
7 Novitskiy (Mini) +51min26
8 Sousa Great Wall) +1hr12min50
9  Alvarez (Toyota) +1hr41min38
10 Van Loon (Minsubishi) +1hr48min39


1 Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) 3hr51min35
2 Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) +2min03
3 Paulo Goncalves (POR/Husqvarna) +2min49
4 Helder Rodrigues (POR/Yamaha) +3min46
5 Gerard Farres Guell (ESP/KTM) +6min50
6 Pal Ullevalseter (NOR/KTM) +8min07
7 David Casteu (FRA/Yamaha) +8min43
8 Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) +8min48
9 Frans Verhoeven (NED/Sherco) +9min24
10 Jordi Viladoms (ESP/KTM) +11min26

1 Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) 18hr12min38
2 Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) +7min48
3 Helder Rodrigues (POR/Yamaha) +49min39
4 Paulo Goncalves (POR/Husqvarna) +55min33
5 David Casteu (FRA/Yamaha) +1hr05min58
6 Jordi Viladoms (ESP/KTM) +1hr07min40
7 Gerard Farres Guell (ESP/KTM) +1hr08min00
8 Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) +1hr17min19
9 Francisco Lopez (CHI/Aprilia) +1hr17min20
10 Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP/KTM) +1hr23min48

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