Better day for De Villiers
Giniel de Villiers (File)
Copiapo - The top four positions in the Dakar Rally remain unchanged after Tuesday’s 163km special stage four between Fiambala and Copiapo in Chile, with Volkswagen maintaining its strong showing among the leading cars.
GALLERY: Daily pictures from the Dakar Rally
For the second day in a row Volkswagen Race Touareg's occupy three of the top four places.
Spaniards Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz remain second overall, 7:36 behind race leaders Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret of France (BMW X3).
VW team-mates Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Timo Gottschalk of Germany are third overall, 9:56 behind Peterhansel. American Mark Miller and South African Ralph Pitchford held on to their fourth place overall and are now 19:25 behind the leaders.
With four of the scheduled 14 special stages now completed, the gruelling race across Argentina and Chile had its fourth different stage winner in as many days, with Americans Robby Gordon and Andy Gilder taking their first victory in their Hummer. Second was Peterhansel, just one-tenth of a second slower, followed by all five VW Race Touaregs. Third was Al-Attiyah (+2:26) and fourth was Sainz (+3:04).
Giniel de Villiers and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz bounced back after Tuesday’s disappointment to claim fifth place, 4:14 behind Gordon.
The defending champions have now moved up two places to 20th overall, 3:04:59 behind Peterhansel, after losing nearly three hours on stage three when they stopped with technical problems and had to wait for their assistance team.
Miller and Pitchford were sixth, 6:14 behind Gordon, and were followed by team-mates Mauricio Neves and Clecio Maestrelli of Brazil (+11:22). The Brazilians remain in the top 10 overall with a deficit of 1:20:35 over the leaders.
De Villiers was pleased with the performance and believes he can finish in the top five overall.
“Yesterday was one of these bad days you sometimes get on the Dakar. There are good and bad days here. Yesterday in the beginning of the special stage we got stuck with our nose in the dirt and lost six minutes.
"Then we had an electrical problem. We did not have the parts in the car and we had to wait for our assistance truck to arrive. These things happen.
“Today was much better even if we had to put up with the dust of the many cars in front of us. It was not easy to drive especially in the first half of the stage with the wind blowing in the wrong direction.
"I will now try to help Carlos, Nasser and Mark. They are in very good positions. There is still a long way to go. I believe I have lost a little too much time to hope for final victory but with a little bit of luck I can still make the top five at the finish.”
The longest stage of the rally so far, Wednesday’s special stage will take competitors 483km between Copiapo and Antofagasta in Chile. Open but rocky tracks through an area known for its gold and copper mines, it will test crews both physically and mentally. There will also be the ‘fesh-fesh’, the fine dust-like sand that is known as ‘guadal’ in the region.
Dakar Rally results on Tuesday in the 589km fourth stage from Fiambala in Argentina to Copiapo, 163km of which is timed:
1. Robby Gordon (USA/Hummer) 1hr 40min 21sec, 2. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA/BMW) at 1sec, 3. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT/Volkswagen) 2:26, 4. Carlos Sainz (ESP/Volkswagen) 3:04, 5. Giniel De Villiers (RSA/Volkswagen) 4:14, 6. Mark Miller (USA/Volkswagen) 6:14, 7. Orlando Terranova (ARG/Stradale) 9:06, 8. Robert Baldwin (USA/Hummer) 10:53, 9. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS/BMW) 11:04, 10. Mauricio Neves (BRA/Volkswagen) 11:22
1. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA/BMW) 10:54:50, 2. Carlos Sainz (ESP/Volkswagen) at 7:36, 3. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT/Volkswagen) 9:56, 4. Mark Miller (USA/Volkswagen) 19:25, 5. Andrew Cox (RSA/Nissan) 59:30, 6. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL/Nissan) 1:00:38, 7. Carlos Sousa (POR/Stradale) 1:03:00, 8. Robby Gordon (USA/Hummer) 1:04:53, 9. Guilherme Spinelli (BRA/Stradale) 1:16:23, 10. Mauricio Neves (BRA/Volkswagen) 1:20:35
1. Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) 1hr 46min 58sec, 2. David Casteu (FRA/Sherco) at 2:04, 3. Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) 3:14, 4. Francisco Lopez (CHI/Aprilia) 5:06, 5. Paulo Gon?alves (POR/BMW) 6:59, 6. Luca Manca (ITA/KTM) 8:36, 7. Jakub Przygonski (POL/KTM) 8:43, 8. Olivier Pain (FRA/Yamaha) 9:00, 9. Helder Rodrigues (POR/Yamaha) 9:02, 10. Pal Ullevalseter (NOR/KTM) 9:04, 11. David Fretigne (FRA/Yamaha) 10:06
1. Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) 10:44:16, 2. David Casteu (FRA/Sherco) at 8:53, 3. Helder Rodrigues (POR/Yamaha) 23:45, 4. Luca Manca (ITA/KTM) 29:51, 5. Alain Duclos (FRA/KTM) 38:20, 6. Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) 38:50, 7. Francisco Lopez (CHI/Aprilia) 39:07, 8. Jonah Street (USA/KTM) 43:06, 9. Pal Ullevalseter (NOR/KTM) 51:13, 10. Paulo GonCalves (POR/BMW) 56:58