Miller led the pack by mid-stage, but lost a lot of time in the last section of the 253-kilometre Fiambala to La Rioja stage and had to settle for second place, behind De Villiers. The two drivers agreed that this was the hardest stage in the rally so far, as the navigation made it difficult to stay on route for the entire duration of the day.
After winning 6 of the 10 events in the rally so far, Sainz had to call it a day after his car crashed into a ravine and was damaged beyond repair. The Spaniard was only 3 days away from securing a well-deserved title in the Dakar Rally so far, having started Stage 12 with more than 27 minutes of advantage to American Mark Miller.
“Suddenly, a four-metre deep hole appeared in front of us. We fell into it and landed on our roof. A BMW and Nani Roma were able to get around us at the last moment. The BMW team stopped and helped us to put the car back on its wheels. I'm very disappointed and I'm very sorry for the team that we're out, but I'm hoping that our team will win in the end anyhow,” said Sainz after the stage.
“Very hard stage. The road book is really, really bad. Really pathetic. There are big canyons, it's really dangerous, and you don't know how to find your way. We were turning in circles for like 15 minutes. They have to do something - you cannot drive the stage like that. Other than that, a very tricky stage. A lot of sand, very soft. We stopped once to deflate, and then the next time we went into a big, big canyon we could not find a pass and we had to get out to look for a pass and we found Robby (Gordon) there as well,” said the new Dakar leader.
Miller came in 2nd, 16:17 minutes behind his South African teammate, while followed by Robby Gordon's Hummer some 9 minutes and 10 seconds later. Here's a look at how the overall standings look after the chaotic Stage 12:
1. Giniel de Villiers ( Volkswagen) 43h46:58
2. Mark Miller ( Volkswagen) + 2:35
3. Robby Gordon (Hummer) + 1h18:52
4. Ivar Erik Tollefsen (Nissan) + 5h48:21
5. Krzysztof Holowczyc ( Nissan) + 6h44:42
6. Dieter Depping (Volkswagen) + 8h33:23
7. Miroslav Zapletal ( Mitsubishi) +10h49:36
8. Leonid Novitskiy (BMW) +13h19:06
9. Guerlain Chicherit (BMW) +14h56:00
10. Bruce Garland (Isuzu) +18h17:40