SA Dakar racers hold a tactical second place

2015-01-07 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s 2009 Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers kept his overall second ranking on the third day of the Dakar yesterday, driving tactically to stop two minutes behind the first placed Mini of Argentinean Orlando Terranova.

Terranova found new earth after losing his way and 20 minutes, but De Villiers and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz raced 284 kilometres between San Juan and Chilecito without fault, using the tracks made by top-ranked Nasser Al-Attiyah to finish two minutes ahead of the Qatari.

After a bad start, Giniel’s Imperial Toyota team-mates Leeroy Poulter and co-driver Rob Howie dropped from 12th to 52nd, after at one stage trailing De Villiers by over 40 minutes.

The third team of SA drivers in the Dakar, experienced privateers Johan van Staden and co-driver Mike Lawrenson, finished a credible 36th in their Nissan Navara.

The majority of the drivers started the third day’s racing, with only SMG having joined Audi and Foton on the bench, but 18 bikers withdrew.

After over six hours on the pegs of his KTM, Broadlink’s Riaan van Niekerk is still in the Top 20 riders, aiming for a top 10 finish.

SA rider Albert Hintehaus dropped from 45th to 73rd, 40 minutes behind the leaders.

Yesterday’s bike winner, Austrian Matthias Walkner, is new to the Dakar, but the MX1 and MX3 world champion managed to stay 40 seconds ahead of the six-time Cross-Country Rallies World Champion and four times Dakar bike winner, Marc Coma.

SA’s remaining quad racer Willem Saaijman yesterday rode steadily to stop in 22nd place, 33 minutes behind yesterday’s quad winner, Poland’s Raval “Super” Sonik.

Before the race, Saaijman told the media his main challenge would be to pace himself over the long Dakar race, as opposed to the flat-out racing he does in South Africa. His team-mate Brian Baragwanath was among the 18 bike and quad racers who withdrew from the Dakar Rally after yesterday’s long, tough stage two.

Under the big clouds of dust kicked up by the trucks, Russia’s experienced Kamaz driver, Airat Mardeev, leads the pack.

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