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SA's Giniel 4th in 'cruel Dakar'

2014-01-10 11:12

DAKAR BITES BACK: Toyota team Principal Glyn Hall and driver Giniel de Villiers assess the condition of their 2014 Dakar-tuned Hilux following Stage 5 of the race. Image: TOYOTA

PETER BURROUGHES

TUCUMAN, Argentina – Toyota SA’s Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz kept themselves in contention for a top three finish in the 2014 Dakar Rally in South America by finishing Stage 5 in second place.

The pair are now fourth overall.

Despite being slowed by a brake problem and a puncture , which cost them more than four minutes, they completed the 527km racing section (Chilecito and Tucuman in Argentina), 4min20seconds behind Nani Roma and Michel Perin (Mini) and 15m52 ahead of Robbie Gordon and Kellon Walch (Hummer).

POULTER/HOWIE’S CAR WOES

Roma/Perin regained the overall lead and are 31m46 ahead of Orlando Terranova and Paulo Fiuza (Mini). Third are defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret (Mini), 39m59 in behind though they’re merely 1m 25s ahead of 2009 Dakar winners De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz.

SA Toyota team mates Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie were left stranded attempting to skirt around a sand dune. They managed to free themselves only to suffer clutch woes. They suspect that sand had managed to enter the bellhousing.

Poulter, competing in his maiden Dakar, and Howie were classified 36th in Stage 5 and are now 30th overall.
 
‘THIS IS A CRUEL RACE’

De Villiers said: “We had a pretty good day apart from losing our brakes 15km from the finish of the special stage.

“The stage was long and really hard on the car, but the Toyota’s performance was exceptional. Navigating was extremely difficult, but Dirk did a great job while other co-drivers struggled. We had a high speed puncture and the tyre caught fire, which we think caused the brake problem.”

Leeroy Poulter: “It was a long and tiring stage. It was very hot and we were grateful for the air conditioning inside the car. We lost quite a lot of time stopping to attend to the clutch, but we made up some time on the straight sections. This is a cruel race. One minute you’re up and the next you’re fighting for survival.”

STAGE 6 – TUCUMAN TO SALTA, ARGENTINA

Stage six (Tucuman to Salta) will be the last before a rest day in Salta on January 11 2014. It will take competitors further north in Argentina along the renowned Ruta 40. There are 270km of liaison and the racing section is 424km – the length of a single round of the South African cross country championship. 

To date the surviving field has completed nearly 4000km  of the 9500km route, with just over 2000 of the 5000km of racing section under their belts. The first car will leave the bivouac at the Hipodromo Avenida Leguizamo in Tucuman at 11:15am (SA local time) and is expected at the finish in Salta at 21:35pm.

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