The Dakar Rally is not regarded as the world’s toughest motor racing challenge for nothing. When you think you’ve got things under control, the Dakar bites back! The first three days of the 2013 edition, which started in Lima, Peru, on January 5, have seen even the most experienced competitors rise and fall on the leader board.
Team-mates and 2009 Dakar champions Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in Hilux
- 301 suffered a navigational setback that lost them over 30 minutes and dropped them from third overall overnight to fifth, 30 min 22 sec behind leaders Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France in a Mini.
Vos and Howie, who finished 10th overall in their first Dakar Rally in 2012 in an Imperial Toyota Hilux, lost over an hour on today’s special stage as a result of the roll, but managed to finish 48th. They were officially classified as 25th overall, but after inspection of the damage by the Toyota Motorsport team in the overnight bivouac in Nazca, it was evident the roll cage was too badly damaged for Vos and Howie to continue.
Glyn Hall: “A very tough day for the team today. The stage was similar to yesterday with many dunes, but the race only really starts tomorrow.
“Giniel and Dirk were running well and with their pace they should have been right on Peterhansel. Unfortunately they battled with the navigation and lost nearly half an hour. But the race is still long and anything can happen. Giniel is very happy with the car and says we will be fighting tomorrow again.
“Sadly Duncan and Rob had an accident while trying to pass a truck. Unfortunately the roll cage has been damaged in a crucial area and for safety reasons we have unfortunately had to withdraw the car. Both Duncan and Rob are fine but obviously very sad that they are unable to continue.”
Giniel: “Today was anything but good for us! It wasn't the car's fault, it's just that we made a huge navigational mistake which added almost 20 kilometres to our route. It got so bad that Dirk had to get out several times to see where we were and what direction we had to take. This is one of those mistakes which cost you dearly and in the end we must have lost nearly half an hour. That's the way it is. This is just the third special and there's still a long road before us, so we'll stay focused and try to do much better tomorrow. In the last few days we've already seen that things can change overnight at the Dakar.”
Initial results of special stage two on Sunday put De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz in second place behind Peterhansel and Cottret and second overall behind the French pairing. Subsequently, Spaniard Carlos Sainz and German co-driver Timo Gottschalk (Buggy), who finished 11th after appearing to get lost, were given back their time after it was decided that their GPS was faulty. They were then declared the stage winners and assumed the overall lead in the race, ahead of Peterhansel/Cottret and De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz.
Sainz, winner of the Dakar in 2010, and Gottschalk ran into problems of their own on special stage three, a 243-kilometre challenge in sand dunes between Pisco and Nazca in Peru. They lost a lot of time with electrical problems and finished 14th, one place ahead of De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz, and are now 10thoverall.
The stage was won by 2011 Dakar champion Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Lucas Cruz of Spain in a Buggy, who improved their overall position from seventh to second.
Lucio Alvarez and Roland Graue of Argentina kept the Toyota flag flying high with fourth place on Monday’s special stage in their South African-built Toyota Hilux and are now third overall behind Peterhansel/Cottret and Al-Attiyah/Cruz.
Stage four on Tuesday between Nazca and Arequipa in Argentina is twice as long as Monday’s and the longest of the race so far, covering a total of 717 kilometres. It starts with a 429-kilometre liaison section before the competitors tackle a 288- kilometre special stage. It’s the stage of a thousand and one dunes, strung out in a never-ending desert capable of unsettling the best technical specialists.