THE DAKAR BITES BACK
Seventh place on Wednesday’s fourth special stage between San Juan and Chilecito in Argentina saw 2009 winners Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz (Toyota Imperial Hilux) maintain sixth place overall on the Dakar Rally. But it might have been a very different story had they not again experienced difficulty with their power steering, which denied them a possible stage win.
It was the longest stage of the race so far – 868 kilometres in all with a racing section of 657 kilometres. They were lying second at the 470-kilometre mark when they were forced to stop to check the power steering. At the same time they realised they also had a slow puncture. They lost some 14 minutes before they were able to continue.
“It’s very disappointing,” admitted de Villiers. “We had a real chance of winning the special stage today. Apart from the steering issue the performance of the car is perfect. We can’t afford to keep losing time like this and will have to put in a big effort tomorrow and in the days ahead to reduce the gap to the leaders.”
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 four days of the 2014 edition have seen even the most experienced competitors’ rise and fall on the leader board.