SA crews hanging in on Dakar

2012-01-10 10:41

South Africans Mark Corbett and Francois Jordaan (Century Racing CR4) retained their overall 20th position in the 2012 Dakar Rally in Chile on Monday after surviving one of the toughest special stages of the 8000km race.
Stage eight marked the start of the second half of the 14-stage marathon and  took the surviving 111 cars (out of 161 that started in Argentina on January 1) a distance of 477km from Copiapo to Antofagasta, almost due north up the west side of South America between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains.

It was another day of trial and tribulation for the two South Africans but they soldiered on to overcome the tough terrain without losing positions to rivals.  They remain fourth in the two-wheel drive category of the top T1 class in their South African-designed and built, Toyota-engined special.
“We got stuck in a mud hole for about 15 minutes before a sporting fellow competitor pulled us out,” reported Corbett.  “Then we had brake fade.  We stopped to jack up the car but were unable to do anything about the play in the wheel bearing.
“By now about 30 cars and trucks had passed us.  It was quite an adventure to pass some of them again in the dust on the roughest and longest stage so far.
“We have certainly lost some more time, but we are still in the race!  The car took a hammering but we will check it thoroughly before Tuesday’s stage.”


France’s Stephane Peterhansel currently leads the rally in his all-wheel drive diesel Mini by 7min36 from America’s Robbie Gordon (Hummer) and is 7min48 ahead of Mini team mate Krzyztof Holowczyc of Poland.
Fellow South Africans Giniel de Villiers and Duncan Vos, competing in the T1 class in all-wheel drive Toyota Hilux bakkies, are fifth and 11th overall respectively behind Peterhansel.  De Villiers, winner of the 2009 Dakar and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz were sixth on Monday, 9min16 behind the winning Mini of Italian Nani Roma, who is fourth overall.

Vos was 10th and Corbett 28th, 1hr14min01 behind the winners.
Tuesday’s stage, from Antofagasta to Iquique, is the longest of the rally – a huge 577km – and on the agenda are canyons, clean tracks and lots of fesh fesh, the peculiar soft sand that is a feature of the area.

The stage will end at the base of a steep descent in the sand dunes in sight of the Pacific Ocean, almost 5000km from Mar del Plata on the Atlantic (east) coast of Argentina, where the Dakar started on January 1.