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SA crew up to 3rd overall in Dakar

2014-01-13 07:35


GINIEL STILL MOVING UP: South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz (Toyota Imperial Hilux) moved into third overall on Sunday's Stage 7 after starting the day fourth. Image: Supplied:


Thousands of kilometres, and thousands more to go - a photographic look back at the first six stage of the 2014 Dakar Rally in Argentina, South America. A story of heroism, heartbreak - and, sadly, death. Images: AFP

SALTA, Argentina - A fighting sixth place under disadvantageous conditions on Sunday’s seventh special stage – a 533kme mega-loop from Salta to Salta at an average altitude of 3500m – saw South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz (Toyota Imperial Hilux) move into third overall after starting the day fourth.

It was a frustrating stage for the 2009 champions, with the high altitude sapping the non-turbo petrol-engined Toyota of some power. The disadvantage was compounded by the fact that it was a very fast stage run at full throttle for much of the time. Wild llamas also proved to be an unusual hazard and De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz were fortunate to narrowly miss one.


The racing section was won by Spain’s Carlos Sainz and Timo Gottschalk of Germany (SMG Buggy), 4m45 ahead of Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar and Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz. Third were defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France in a Mini (+7min26) followed by Nani Roma of Spain and French co-driver Michel Perin in another Mini (+8min56).  

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Roma and Perin remain in the overall lead with an advantage of 31min53 over Peterhansel and Cottret (Mini). De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz are 46m23 in back but 13min50 ahead of fourth-placed Orlando Terranova of Argentina and Portuguese co-driver Paulo Fiuza (Mini) who took a 15-minute retrospective penalty on the rest day in Salta for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Fifth are Qatar’s Nasser al-Attiyah Qatar and Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz in yet another Mini (+1hr18.24) ahead of Sainz and Gottschalk in the SMG Buggy (+1h50m42). Both al-Attiyah and Sainz are carrying a one-hour penalty for missing a way point.


It was another long and disappointing day in the dust for De Villiers’ South African team mates Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie in the second Toyota Imperial Hilux. After starting in 26th on the road and 29th in the general classification, Dakar rookie Poulter and Howie came in 68th on the stage, 3hr13m48 behind the leaders and have dropped to 30th overall.

Poulter, on his first Dakar, said: “We were doing well until we had a problem with the steering, which led to us being stuck on the side of the road trying to solve the problem and fix it. We managed to succeed just before the T4 support truck arrived and lost almost three hours.

"The rest of the stage went relatively well. We are disappointed to have fallen further back, but we’ll continue to do our best and see if we can make up some time on Monday.”

De Villiers added: “It was a fast, flat-out stage at high altitude that suited our turbo diesel rivals better than it did us. It was frustrating as we just didn’t have the power to fairly contest the stage. We were also slowed by a puncture within the first 100km. We managed to limit the damage to our closest rivals (Nani Roma and Stephane Peterhansel) and have been helped by Orlando’s (Terranova) penalty.

"We look ahead to tomorrow and our first special stage in Chile. We are ready.”   


Monday will see the competitors cross the Andes Mountains into Chile via the Paso de Jama at an altitude of nearly 4900m. A 522km liaison section from Salta in Argentina will take them to the first of the six stages in Chile, a 302km racing section to Calama.

It is described in the route handbook as "characterised by fast, narrow sections and few overtaking opportunities".
The stage will start at 5.15am (10.15am SA time) and the first car is due at the bivouac in Calama at 2.50pm, 7.50pm SA time.

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