DAKAR 2015 DAY 1: Roma out, de Villiers home in third


South Africa’s 2009 Dakar Rally winner, Giniel De Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewits, finished a dramatic first stage of this year’s event in third position after the effective retirement of reigning champion, Nani Roma, a mere ten kilometres into the start of the rally’s opening 175 km stage from the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, to Villa Carlos Paz.

Mechanical troubles with his Mini saw the Spaniard finishing the stage behind his support truck at the end of a towrope, some six hours behind teammate and eventual stage winner, Orlando Terranova of Argentina. Following the completion of stage, the German-based team suffered another blow after 2011 victor and initial stage winner, Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, was given a two-minute penalty after being caught speeding, dropping him to seventh place.

In an event marked by the much hyped about return of French firm Peugeot, winners of the event from 1987 to 1990, the star studded line-up of former double World Rally Champion and 2010 winner Carlos Sainz, eleven-times Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel, and five-times motorcycle winner and four wheels rookie, Cyril Despres, got off to a quite start with Sainz finishing the stage in eighth position, 1 min 44 sec behind Terranova, Peterhansel in tenth, 2 min 13 sec behind, and Despres down in 33rd after problems.

Out of the three South African teams competing in the car section this year, teammates to De Villiers / von Zitzewits, Leeroy Poultor and Rob Howie brought their similar Toyota Hilux home in 14th place overall, 4 min 28 sec behind Terranova while the Nissan Navara of Johan van Staden and Mark Lawrenson completed the stage in 71st position, some behind 28 minutes behind the leading Mini.

In the motorcycle division, Britain’s Sam Sunderland sprung a surprise on the two-wheel establishment by taking his KTM to slender five second victory over Portuguese Honda rider Paulo Goncalves and 1 min 12 sec ahead of reigning champion, KTM mounted Spaniard Marc Coma. Riaan van Niekerk finished the best of the three man South African line-up in 20th place with Albert Hintenaus finishing 64th and Wessel Bosman placing 158th.

The day’s second stage, a mammoth 581 km special from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan kicked-off at 06h30 this morning for the bikes and quads with the first car leaving just after 09h00.


IMAGE sourced from www.preproloog.nl