Dakar Rally: De Villiers’ hopes fade

2015-01-15 12:03

While Giniel de Villiers’ title hopes faded in the 2015 Dakar Rally, fellow South African driver Leeroy Poulter finished stage 10 in fourth place.

Overall leader Nasser al-Attiya further extended his lead in the general classification by winning the stage yesterday, while defending champion Nani Roma crashed his Mini, but managed to come out unscathed.

“We had a rather calm day. I didn’t push too hard, especially after we saw what had happened to Nani,” De Villiers told dakar.com after the stage.

“It just goes to show, you can always be caught unaware and suffer an accident. Nasser’s too far ahead, it makes no sense to take risks.”

Finishing the stage four minutes behind al-Attiya, De Villiers would still need to erase 28 minutes off the Qatari’s lead during the final three stages.

Experiencing a better day in the driver’s seat compared with Tuesday’s ninth stage, the Toyota SA driver was in a more optimistic mood.

“We won’t be able to catch him unless he makes mistakes, but it can happen,” De Villiers said.

“Yesterday was a disappointment, but we still believe in our chances. You never know. It ain’t over yet.

“Things are good, on balance, because we know we’re still in the fight for victory.”

Poulter and co-driver Robert Howie consolidated their 18th place on the overall standings.

Wednesday also proved to be the best stage for South Africa’s Nissan Prodakar team of Johan van Staden and Mark Lawrenson in this year’s Dakar.

The duo posted the 30th fastest time on the day – one position better than their previous best – to move up a place on the overall standings to 32.

South African quad rider Hannes Saaijman finished the stage in ninth place to move back into the top 10 in the overall classification.

The off-road endurance race, formerly known as the Paris-Dakar Rally, moved to South America in 2009 and runs through Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.

The 14-day rally finishes in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

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