De Villiers Wins Dakar Stage, Al-Attiyah Overall Leader

Giniel de Villiers clinched his first win in the 2009 Dakar Rally, mastering the sand dunes of the Neuquen to San Rafael stage in 5h47:43. The South-African did most things right on yesterday's route, putting enough minutes between him and rally leaders Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah to secure the runner-up position in the overall classification.

“We took things easy at first, planning to attack more and more towards the end. This strategy paid off, but we did unfortunately damage a rim when we hit a rock that was hidden in the sand, and that cost us a bit of time. We're very happy to have won our first leg - especially as it was the most difficult leg of the 'Dakar' so far,” said De Villiers.

Sainz led the way following his win in Stage 4 and performed within the time-bounds, aiming to conserve his advantage to Al-Attiyah in the overall standings. Bad luck struck with more than 200 km before the finish line, when the Spaniard's Volkswagen hit a rock that completely damaged its power steering.

Being forced to drive without power steering for the rest of the stage, Sainz struggled to keep his car on the road, eventually rolling the VW when wrongly approaching a sand dune. He eventually crossed the finish line in 9th place, more than 15 minutes off pace.

“The leg started well for us today. But unfortunately, we hit a rock badly around half way along the special stage, and that knocked our power steering out. We had to drive without it for 200 kilometres to the dune section of the leg. The lack of power steering meant we had to take a different line of approach - and that's when we rolled. The mechanics unfortunately now have a lot of work to do. But we are only trailing by just over six minutes, and we know that anything can happen still,” said Sainz at the end of the day.

Al-Attiyah was the driver to profit at the finish line, as he now moves in 1st place overall, despite losing more than 5 minutes to De Villiers. The Qatar driver had some problems with his car's radiator through yesterday's stage, being forced to stop for 15 minutes to let the engine cool off a bit.

“It's great to be leading again, but it could have been so much better today. I had to stop in the dunes for about 15 minutes because the engine was overheating and the temperature would not go down. I tried to unclog the radiator, but it was full of these flowers, not camel grass, just a special type of flower that was stopping the air flow,” said Al-Attiyah.

Here are the Top 10 in yesterday's stage:

1. De Villiers (Volkswagen)          5h47:43
2. Depping (Volkswagen)             + 2.18
3. Gordon (Hummer)                    + 4.12
4. Al Attiyah (BMW)                      + 5.23
5. Peterhansel (Mitsubishi)           + 7.12
6. Miller (Volkswagen)                  + 8.59
7. Alphand (Mitsubishi)                 + 10.02
8. Roma (Mitsubishi)                     + 13.38
9. Sainz ( Volkswagen)                  + 15.42
10. Chicherit (BMW)                      + 38.27
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories