Race lottery after lashing rain

2013-01-13 11:47

Torrential rain and flooded rivers turned the final stage of the first week of the 2012 Dakar rally into something of a lottery but that didn’t not stop SA’s Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz from successfully defending the third overall they established in their Imperial Toyota Hilux on Day 4.

Special Stage 8 between Salta and San Miguel de Tucuman in Argentina was originally intended to be 470km but torrential overnight rain and flash floods on dry river beds resulted in it being shortened to 185km before the start.

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When one of the swollen rivers 30km from the end of the stage prevented all but the first five cars from reaching the finish the race direction applied the slowest stage time of the finishers to all those who failed to finish.

It appears this decision is being contested by some competitors and teams and the current results are subject to confirmation.

The stage was won by Guerlain Chicherit and Jean-Pierre Garcin of France in a two-wheel drive SMG Buggy. Villiers and Zitzewitz were among those stopped by the swirling, deep floodwater.

Current official overall results (Sunday noon) have Frenchmen Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret, who have led from Stage 2 in an all-wheel drive diesel Mini, in the lead after 18hr31min04 of racing since the Dakar started in Lima, Peru, on January 5.

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The Qatari/Spanish combination of Nasser al-Attiyah and Lucas Cruz are second and 3min14 behind in a two-wheel drive petrol Buggy. Villiers and Zitzewitz are 44min03 in arrears and 4min51 ahead of fourth-placed Russians Leonid Novitskiy and Konstantin Zhiltsov in another Mini.

Whatever way the officials decide, Villiers will remain third overall in their South African all-wheel drive petrol Hilux, with the gap to the first and second cars and to the fourth car depending on the final decision.

Each of the top three drivers is a previous Dakar winner, Peterhansel in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2012, al-Attiyah in 2011 and De Villiers in 2009.  Each is racing in the T1 class for Improved Cross-Country Vehicles, with Peterhansel first in the four-wheel drive diesel class; al-Attiyah and Cruz lead the two-wheel drive petrol class and Villiers the all-wheel drive petrol class.


Today, Sunday, is a rest day and the race will resume on Monday with another tough stage over 293km San Miguel de Tucuman and Cordoba in Argentina before it finishes in Santiago, Chile, on January 20.

It will be a welcome respite from the hardship of the 8500km marathon and a time to rest weary bodies and battered machines and prepare for the second week.

“It was quite a challenging stage!” Villiers said. “It went well for us. We started fifth and overtook Nasser when he had a puncture.  Then we reached a river which was totally flooded - impossible to cross. We heard from the organisers that the rest of the stage was neutralised and that the result would be taken as at Check Point 2.

“A pity, as we were having a good run and would probably have been able to make up a bit more time by the end.”

The Toyota Imperial SA Team set out from Lima a week ago with two Hilux 4x4s, the second South African-built bakkie in the hands of 2012 National Off-Road champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie.


They were racing in their second Dakar and 10th overall when they were forced to withdraw. They rolled their Hilux after cresting a high sand dune too quickly and damaged the roll cage.  They completed the stage, but were unable to continue for safety reasons.

“It’s been a tough and hectic week,” team manager Glyn Hall told Wheels24. “Giniel and Dirk have had a very good run so far and we’re in a good position to challenge for a podium position in Santiago on January 20.

“Duncan and Rob were unlucky to go out the way they did.  They could have continued if the roll cage hadn’t been damaged but the rules do not allow this. Calling Sunday a rest day is a bit of a misnomer as it’s anything but for the technical team!

“We’ll be stripping down Hilux #301 and checking everything and replacing components where necessary. We still have another tough week of racing ahead of us before we can say we conquered the Dakar - again.”

Wheels24 will be following the 'Dakar' rally throughout the race. Keep up with things on our Dakar Rally section.

Dakar Rally motorcycle standings after Saturday's Stage 8 from Salta to Tucuman. The scheduled 492km timed run was reduced to 183km because of heavy rain and because of that these results are provisional - only five cars finished the stage.

Stage 8

1 Joan Barreda Bort (ESP/Husqvarna) 2hr07min26
2 Johnny Campbell (USA/Honda) +7min043
3 Ivan Jakes (SVK/KTM) +7min57
4 Pedro Bianchi Prata (POR/Husqvarna) +11min10,
5 Vincent Guindani (FRA/Yamaha) +13min07
6 David Casteu (FRA/Yamaha) +14min13
7 Felipe Prohens (CHI/Honda) +14min35
8 Robert Van Pelt (NED/Honda) +15min08
9 Lyndon Poskitt (GBR/KTM) +15min48
10 Helder Rodrigues (POR/Honda) +15min57.

1 David Casteu (FRA/Yamaha) 19hr56min33
2 Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) +9min26
3 Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) +11min16
4 Francisco Lopez (CHI/KTM) +12min00
5 Olivier Pain (FRA/Yamaha) +16min10
6 Ivan Jakes (SVK/KTM) +26min22
7 Jeremias Israel Esquerre (CHI/Honda) +27min07
8 Jakub Przygonski (POL/KTM) +31min32
9 Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) +33min50
10 Javier Pizzolito (ARG/Honda) +34min55

1 Chicherit/Garcin (FRA) SMG 1hr55min06
2 Terranova/Fiuza (ARG) BMW +04min02
3 Gordon/Walch (USA) Hummer +05min17
4 Peterhansel/Cottret (FRA) Mini +12min15
5 Roma/Perin (FRA) Mini +15min43

1 Peterhanse/Cottret (FRA) Mini 18hr31min04
2 al-Attiyah/Cruz (QAT) Buggy +3min14
3 De Villiers/Von Zitewitz (SA) Toyota +44min03
4 Novistkiy/Zhilstov (RUS) Mini +48min54
5 Chicherit/Garcin (FRA) SMG +1hr04mn50
6 Chabot/Pillot (FRA) SMG +1hr34min51
7 Roma/Perin (FRA) Mini +1hr36min27
8 Terranova/Fiuza (PRT) BMW +1hr5min25
9 Errandonea/Debron (FRA) SMG +2hr02min18
10 Sousa/Ramalho (PRT)