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Frustration in high Andes for Giniel

2014-01-14 08:04


SUPERCARS AT SUNSET IN SALTA: The vast expanses of Argentina disappear at the horizon as the sun sets on Stage 7 of the 2014 Dakar Rally with the South African Toyota crew tending to their charges. Image: MARC BOW

CALAMA, Chile - Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz (Toyota Imperial Hilux) successfully defended their third place overall in the Dakar Rally when they finished a frustrated seventh on Monday’s special Stage 8, the first in Chile after seven stages and a rest day in Argentina.

The 302km racing section, which followed a 522km liaison from Salta in Argentina that saw the Dakar cavalcade cross the Andes Mountains through the Paso de Jama at just under 5000m above sea level, was the second high-altitude test in a row and was characterised by high speeds and narrow roads with limited overtaking opportunities at an average altitude of around 3000m.

The 2009 Dakar champions were stuck behind the Mini of Russian/Ukrainian duo Vladimir Vasilyev and Vitaliy Yevtyekhov for 150km.


“Despite making use of the Sentinel system, which signals the driver ahead that you want to overtake, he didn’t make space, even when we were right next to him,” said De Villiers. “We lost a lot of time, at least three minutes, as a result. Any chance we had of making up time on our rivals today was gone. It was very frustrating.”

The stage, which ended in Calama, was won by Qatar’s Nasser al-Attiyah and Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz in a Mini, who finished 1min12 ahead of defending champions Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France (Mini) and 2min36 in front of Spain’s Carlos Sainz and German co-driver Timo Gottschalk (SMG Buggy).

De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz were 9min21 behind the leaders but only two seconds slower than sixth-placed Nani Roma of Spain and Michel Perin of France (Mini).

Roma and Perin remain in the overall lead with a reduced gap of 23min46 to Peterhansel and Cottret. De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz are 48min25 in arrears and are now under threat from Argentina’s Orlando Terranova and Paulo Fiuza of Portugal (Mini), who have closed the gap to 3min30.


Toyota Imperial team mates Leeroy Pouter and Rob Howie made a good recovery from their steering problems on Sunday that saw them drop some three hours to the leaders. They finished 29th on the stage and improved their overall position to 28th and are now 10hr30min28 behind the leaders.

“We had a better day today and were able to pass a few cars and improve our position in the general classification,” said Poulter. “Overtaking was not easy as the tracks were narrow and the pace was very fast. We’ll have a much better start position for Tuesday’s stage and will be looking to make further progress through the field.”

Tuesday's Stage 9, from Calama to the 2014 Dakar’s northernmost point at Iquique, will start with a 27km liaison followed by a 422km racing section on which the racers will see the Pacific Ocean for the first time and be re-introduced to the dunes of the Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world where in some places rain has never been recorded.

The spectacular descent of a giant sand dune to the overnight bivouac is guaranteed to attract thousands of enthusiastic spectators.


South African rookie Dakar pair Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr (Toyota Hilux) have had two successive finishes in 15th and are now running 17th overall as the convoy crossed the Andes mountains from Argentina into Chile.

They had another trouble-free run on Stage 8. Rundle said: "For the first time we started with a dust gap of a minute instead of 30sec after finishing 15th on Sunday and this made a big difference. We managed to maintain that dust gap throughout the stage.

“I am still driving with something in reserve and, although we are in a better position at this stage of the race than we ever thought we would be, our objective remains to complete our first Dakar rather than finish in a particular position.”

The rally leaders will leave Calama at 8.48am (1.48pm SA time) and the first arrival in Iquique is expected at 2.48pm (7.48pm SA time).

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Read more on:    mini  |  zitzewitz  |  al-attiyah  |  peterhansel  |  de villiers  |  poulter  |  chile

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