16 January 2013

South Africa: De Villiers Strengthens Dakar Position

A safe fourth place in Tuesday's difficult 353-kilometre special stage 10 between Cordoba and Rioja in Argentina saw the Toyota Imperial South Africa Team's Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz consolidate their second place in the general classification of the Dakar Rally.

While defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France in a Mini stretched their overall lead to 52 min 38 sec over the South African/German duo after finishing third, the 2009 champions increased their advantage over the Mini of third-placed Russians Leonid Novitskiy and Konstantin Zhiltsov to just over 16 minutes.

The stage victory went to Orlando Terranova in a BMW, giving Argentina its first ever car stage win in the Dakar Rally.

Caught in the dust

The South African-built Hilux didn't miss a beat after starting fourth in the morning and although he got caught in the dust of the Hummer of Robbie Gordon and Kellon Walch, De Villiers was content to push just hard enough to defend his second position and not risk it all trying to pass the Americans.

It was a very technical stage similar to those encountered in the World Rally Championship, with narrow roads that were hard and fast.

The other four South African-built customer Toyotas all finished in the top 20 on Tuesday and remain in the top 20 overall, with the Hilux of Argentinian duo Lucio Alvarez and Roland Graue fifth on the stage and 15th overall. Australian Geoffrey Olholm and Briton Jonathan Aston are 11th in the general classification, Adam Malysz and Rafal Martin of Poland are 14th and Nunzio Coffaro and Daniel Meneses of Venezuela are 18th.

'A good feeling'

De Villiers said: "After our exciting Monday we enjoyed a comparatively quiet day today. It was a good feeling, particularly as tomorrow sees us head into the dunes around Fiambalá.

"Although we were slightly hampered by Robby Gordon's dust today, we are pleased we managed to extend the gap to third place. It gives us a useful cushion between us and the next car."

Von Zitzewitz was looking forward to stage 11. "We know the 11th stage to Fiambalá well, so we are very optimistic, and aim to post another good performance on Wednesday. We also have a good starting position (fourth), which makes it a lot easier."


In the motorbike race, Husqvarna's Joan Berreda battled with KTM's Cyril Despres for the stage victory and eventually claimed the win, just a minute and 15 seconds in front of the Frenchman. Portugal's Paulo Goncalves, on a KTM, was third.

It was Barreda's fourth stage win of the 2013 race, but Despres moved into the overall lead, one minute and 37 seconds ahead of his team-mate Ruben Faria.

South African Broadlink KTM Rally Team member Riaan van Niekerk placed 20th, just over 20 minutes behind Barreda, with Darryl Curtis in 24th place, almost 25 minutes down. Brett Cummings, on a Honda, finished the stage in 29th place.

'It looked like an island'

Describing the stage, Curtis said: "It was very windy, it looked like an island, with a lot of low walls on the side, very narrow tracks and very dusty in some places.

"In the middle it was quite weird. We were quite lonely and we had an enduro kind of ride for about 50 kilometres and everybody loved it."

Van Niekerk admitted his day hadn't gone smoothly. He explained: "I got stuck in the dust for probably the whole special. Once you get in with the faster guys, it's hard to overtake. They don't really move over.

"I didn't really feel too comfortable today with the dust, so I just took it easy and made it to the end."

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