Yesterday’s route saw drivers cross the Andes Cordillera from east to west via El Paso San Fancisco. They then return to the Atacama Desert, with the majority of dunes right in the middle of the special stage. Participants climbed the ‘cathedral’ dunes, and finished at Copiapo.
All five of the SA built Toyota Hiluxes reached the Copiapo safely, with Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz placing third on the 319 kilometre special stage. They’re slowly closing the gap between themselves and leaders Peterhansel and Cottret in the French Mini, but with only two special stages remaining before the finish in Santiago, Chile, they’ll have to do more than keep form if they’re to take the 2013 title.
The stage win went to Roma and Perin of Spain, also in a Mini, ahead of yesterday’s stage winner Robbie Gordon. De Villiers was just seven seconds behind Gordon’s Hummer, and ahead of Peterhansel by 01:38. The performance from the Spanish Mini drivers have moved them up to third overall, a good 40:45 behind De Villiers.
Previously nipping at our local Hilux team’s heels, Novitskiy and Zhiltsov’s Mini dropped to ninth place. Starting the race only 16:00 behind car #301, they’ve now dropped to fourth position overall behind Roma and Perin.
“We just wanted to have a clean stage, but for sure, today’s stage was a lot tougher than I expected it to be,” said De Villiers. “With a long liaison this morning at high altitude, that makes you really tired as well and then you have to do a tough stage like today. It needed a lot of concentration. There were quite long dune crossings and really tricky places in the dunes. Then, on the tracks there were lots of rocks, so you really had to be very precise so as not to hit any rocks. It was not an easy day, but we’re happy to be here.
“We lost about thirty seconds at one of the way points in the dunes. We couldn’t make it up to that one, so we had to turn around and sort of go around, because at that point I was quite close to Lucio (Alvarez) and I saw he put a gap between us again.
“I think tomorrow’s going to be tough as well, more tough than today. It’s not over yet.”
Today’s stage should be as tough as De Villiers predicts, with the local meteorological phenomenon of Camanchaca fogging up much of the morning. The stage also sees the last dunes of the 2013 Dakar Rally, and a third of the 441km to be travelled today will beo n sand. The rist is on wide, stony tracks all the way south to La Serena, Chile.
|Stage 12 Results :: Overall Standing|
|2||301||De Villiers (ZAF)