De Villiers closes in on Dakar leaders

2012-01-04 09:27

Former champion Giniel de Villiers closed the gap on the race leaders with a fourth-place finish in the third stage of the Dakar Rally in Argentina.

De Villiers and co-driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz completed the 208km third leg between San Rafael and San Juan in 2:28.24, finishing one minute, 33 seconds behind stage winner Joan Roma of Spain yesterday.

Their performance lifted them one place to third overall – only one minute, 40 seconds behind race leader Krzysztof Holowczyc of Poland.

Meanwhile, the South African pairing of Duncan Vos and Robert Howie finished 14th in the stage and climbed five places to 13th overall.

Despite being slowed by two punctures, the other all-SA combination of Mark Corbett and Francois Jordaan also continued to hold their own.

Corbett and Jordaan finished 22nd on stage three after losing some 10 minutes to the leaders, but held on to 18th position overall, falling one place in the standings. They were lying third in the two-wheel cars division.

“We were going well when we realised we had a slow puncture,” said Jordaan, the Century Racing team’s co-driver.

“We tried to carry on by employing the onboard tyre inflation device, but it didn’t work and we had to stop to change the wheel.

“Then we had a second puncture and had to stop again. Both of the buggies passed us, but we are not too concerned.

“There is still a long way to go and so far we’re feeling very good about our progress. Mark is coming to grips with his first Dakar and is doing a great job.”

The fourth stage will cover 326km from San Juan to Chilecito.

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