BMW X-raid stage 10 report


- Giniel de Villiers wins day's stage; Sainz gets stuck and loses way
- Ricardo Leal Dos Santos retains seventh with sixth quickest time

CHILECITO (Argentina): Polish driver Krzysztof Holowczyc and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin claimed a superb second position in their BMW X3 CC on the 10th of 13 special stages in this year's Dakar Rally, held in punishing heat between Copiapo in Chile and Chilecito in Argentina, on Wednesday.

The Monster Energy X-raid team duo of Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret looked set to win the special in their BMW X3 CC, but the French duo lost the stage lead within a few kilometres of the finish following a series of minor mistakes and finished in third place.

These delays, and a similar navigational error for overall leader Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah after 160km, ensured that South Africa's Giniel de Villiers claimed his first stage win on this year's event.

Peterhansel remains in a solid fourth overall, 1h 39m 32s behind Al-Attiyah. The Qatari beat closest rival Carlos Sainz by 9m 19s on the day's timed special and will take a 12m 37s advantage over the Spaniard into the 11th stage on Thursday.

"I am disappointed because it was not a good stage for us, as we made many mistakes," said Peterhansel. "We started through the dunes and then we got lost as well as getting stuck when we tried to cross a dry river bed. We tried to go over a wall and the car landed on its nose and came to rest balancing. We were forced to dig our way out. It was not a good special. I attacked, but made more errors. It's a shame because we had a good speed today."

Holowczyc held fourth position through the first passage control after the sand dunes and a similar place at PC2. He kept clear of trouble over the closing kilometres to record a superb second overall on the special -- a career-best performance on a Dakar stage for the Pole - to retain sixth overall in his BMW X3 CC. Fifth-placed Mark Miller lost considerable time on the stage and clings on to his overall position by just 8m 54s.

"This was a good result today and I am very pleased for Krzysztof because he deserved this result," said X-raid team director Sven Quandt. "He has driven very well on some difficult stages over the last few days. For Stephane it was not easy because of the navigation, but our cars were fast today and on a good pace.

"It would be nice to have another stage win, but it will be difficult with Krzysztof and Stephane starting just behind Giniel tomorrow. We will need to make a plan for the last three days to make sure we get at least one more stage win."

Ricardo Leal Dos Santos and Paulo Fiщza were inside the top six at the first passage control, but slipped just behind Frenchman Christian Laveille on the section to PC2 and passed the control in eighth. The Portuguese pair overtook Miller, Guilherme Spinelli, Alfie Cox and Christian Laveille on the stage and eventually recorded the sixth fastest time in their Monster Energy-backed BMW X3 CC.

Stephan Schott and Holm Schmidt managed to replace the clutch in their BMW X3 CC with the help of Thomas Baumann, Andrea Mayer and Phillip Beier and the loss of just over four and a half hours on Tuesday. They completed the ninth stage in 54th position but, remarkably, only slipped two positions to 22nd in the overall rankings - such was the difficulty of the special stage.

Schott began the 10th stage in 56th position on the road and was forced to work his way through the tail-enders. He had surged through the field to 28th by PC1 and slipped a place to 29th at PC2.

Mayer, Baumann and Beier had completed Schott's repairs at the start of the special stage yesterday and then returned to the Copiapo bivouac without taking to the stage themselves. They started the 10th stage with further time penalties at 13.53hrs and were running in 25th position through PC1.

Stage 10

Today's short and demanding special stage featured two passage controls at the 23km and 115km points and took place substantially over sandy terrain at between 1,500 metres and 2,600 metres above sea level. It also included a passage through the notorious white dunes at Fiambala, the scene of a chain of dramatic events in the 2009 Dakar Rally.

Sainz led the way into the special, but it was Al-Attiyah who held a one-second advantage over Peterhansel at the first passage control after the dunes. Sainz dropped 10 minutes to his rival stuck in the soft sand at 13km, while Holowczyc was running in a virtual fourth on the special.

Peterhansel had claimed the stage lead by the waypoint at 100km and headed towards PC2 with an 11-second on-stage advantage over Al-Attiyah. Sainz was still running over eight minutes behind.

By PC2, Peterhansel had extended his stage lead to 2m 30s and had already passed Giniel de Villiers. Sainz had slipped over 16 minutes behind the front-running BMW X3 CC after making a navigation mistake at the same place as two of the leading bikes had lost time earlier in the day.

Al-Attiyah regained control of the stage after 126km: Peterhansel was forced to stop for around five minutes to dig himself off an obstacle and slipped to a virtual second position.

Sainz languished 14m 21s behind the Qatari, but Al-Attiyah and Peterhansel dropped time near the finish with navigational woes and enabled De Villiers to sneak through and claim his first stage win of the race. Holowczyc snatched a fine second place -- his best ever result on a Dakar special stage -- and closed to within 8m 54s of fifth-placed Mark Miller.

Chilecito is a small town in Argentina's La Rioja province and is located in a valley between the Sierra de Velazco to the east and the Sierra de Famatina to the west. It lies in a well-irrigated region rich in vineyards.


Tomorrow (Thursday) teams tackle two special stages of 224km and 238km, split by a neutralisation section, in a route of 786km between Chilecito and San Juan. A short liaison steers crews in a westerly direction and back towards the Andes foothills for the start of the first special west of the Sierra de Famatina.

A link section through San Jose de Jachal takes teams to the start of the second stage into San Juan.

-source: x-raid

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Mark Miller , Carlos Sainz , Stéphane Peterhansel , Giniel de Villiers , Andrea Mayer , Krzysztof Holowczyc , Thomas Baumann , Stephan Schott , Holm Schmidt , Guilherme Spinelli , Ricardo Leal Dos Santos