Giniel fights back to third

2013-01-09 09:47

LIMA, Peru - Giniel de Villiers has shown why he is one of the world’s top endurance off-road drivers in Tuesday’s special stage four of the Dakar rally between Nazca and Arequipa in Peru.
After the disappointment of losing 30 minutes the previous day he and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz mastered the longest and toughest stage of the rally so far to finish fourth in theirToyota Hilux #301 and improve their overall position to third.

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2012 Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret (Mini) lead 2011 winner Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar and Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz (Buggy) by five minutes with Villiers and Zitzewitz 33 minutes behind.

The 2009 Dakar champions hit back on the 288km stage which featured lots of sand dunes and fesh fesh in a trouble-free run while the hopes of two other potential race winners were dashed.  They arrived at the Arequipa bivouac after more than six hours on the road at 8pm Peru time four minutes behind stage winners Al-Attiyah and Cruz.
“We had a good day today,” Villiers said. “It was a very long stage, more than three-and-a-half hours of hard driving and navigating, the first really hard stage of the rally so far. The Hilux ran well.”
Team bos Glyn Hall added: “We’re very happy with Giniel and Dirk’s performance today. We have no problems with the car and it’s all looking good.”
After four stages several potential race winners have dropped out or suffered big time losses. Krzysztof Holowczyc of Poland and Portuguese co-driver Filipe Palmeiro (Mini) retired on stage three after Holowczyc hurt his back going over a dune.
Argentine duo Lucio Alvarez and Roland Graue started Monday’s stage in third overall in their South African-built Toyota Hilux but by the end of the day had lost more than three hours after severely damaging their suspension on a big jump. More problems on stage four saw them finish 67th and they are now 27th overall and nearly four hours behind.

2010 Dakar winner Carlos Sainz of Spain and German co-driver Timo Gottschalk (Buggy) have dropped from first after stage two to 24th and have a crippling 3hr18min deficit after electrical problems on Monday and a fuel leak on Tuesday.
Americans Robbie Gordon and Kellon Walch fell into a hole in the sand dunes on stage four and put their Hummer on its back. They lost more than five hours and are now 43rd and nearly six hours behind the leaders.
Wednesday’s stage five will start with a 337km liaison section and a crossing of the Andes Mountains into Chile.  A 172km special stage will see a big change in terrain with stony tracks, river crossings and a series of valleys to contend with.

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