Dakar 2017

The Star Early Edition - - MOTORING - DE­NIS DROPPA

GINIEL de Vil­liers has ex­pe­ri­enced a tough old time in this year’s Dakar rally, and there seems lit­tle chance of a podium for the South African who lies in sixth place as the event heads to­wards its fin­ish in Buenos Aires on Satur­day.

The Toy­ota Ga­zoo Hilux driver is one of many to fall vic­tim to tech­ni­cal and nav­i­ga­tional prob­lems in the un­for­giv­ing South Amer­i­can wilder­ness, which among oth­ers claimed his team­mate Nasser Al-At­tiyah who re­tired from the rally last week af­ter rip­ping a wheel off his Hilux.

Stage three was one to for­get for the South Africa-based Toy­ota team when Al-At­tiyah re­tired and De Vil­liers lost nearly 30 min­utes with a fuel pres­sure prob­lem. The mis­ery con­tin­ued in the fol­low­ing days when De Vil­liers and his German nav­i­ga­tor Dirk von Zi­et­ze­witz got stuck in the sand, ex­pe­ri­enced punc­tures, and lost their way.

Ex­treme weather saw stage six can­celled and stage seven short­ened to just 161 km, but the lat­ter stage turned out to be a turn­ing point for Giniel who claimed third place and moved up to sixth over­all. How­ever, his nor­mally-as­pi­rated Toy­ota has been un­able to match the pace of the tur­bocharged Peu­geots in the high al­ti­tudes.

With yes­ter­day’s stage can­celled af­ter many com­peti­tors were un­able to com­plete Tues­day’s stage in time, the rally re­sumed to­day with for­mer WRC star Se­bas­tian Loeb lead­ing the car stand­ings ahead of his Peu­geot team-mates Stephane Peter­hansel and Cyril De­spres - all in two wheel drive 3008 DKRs.

Nani Roma lies fourth in the lead­ing Toy­ota Hilux, ahead of Mini’s Mikko Hir­vo­nen in fifth.

To­day sees a re­turn to lower al­ti­tudes, where the Toy­otas should be able to bet­ter chal­lenge the Peu­geots.

The mo­tor­cy­cle cat­e­gory is led by Bri­tain’s Sam Sun­der­land on a KTM ahead of Chile’s Pablo Quin­tanilla on a Husq­varna and French­man Adrien Van Bev­eren on a Yamaha. South Africa’s Joey Evans (KTM), a for­mer para­plegic, is the only re­main­ing South African in 98th place af­ter David Thomas crashed his Husq­varna out on stage five, with Wal­ter Terblanche re­tired af­ter suf­fer­ing on­go­ing fuel qual­ity is­sues on his KTM.

Giniel De Vil­liers and co-driver Dirk Von Zitze­witz nav­i­gate the dunes dur­ing the 7th stage of the Dakar rally be­tween Oruro and Uyuni in Bolivia.

Se­bastien Loeb on Tues­day took the lead of the Dakar rally from his Peu­geot team-mate Stephane Peter­hansel.

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