After the rain shortened stage 11, which was won by American Robby Gordon (Hummer), stage 12 of the 2013 Dakar Rally ran it’s full distance.
The 319 km special between Fiambala and Copiapo saw South African Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Hilux) close to within 50 minutes of the leader Stephane Peterhansel (Mini). Spain’s Nani Roma, also in a Mini, took stage honours ahead of Gordon. The Hilux crossed the finish line a mere seven seconds behind the Hummer. Overall leader Peterhansel was just one and a half minutes down the road. There was however no change for top spot in the rankings.
De Villiers still remains optimistic about his chances for the overall win:
“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 the Stellenbosch native. “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.”
One major shift in the leaderboard took place when Mini driver Leonid Novitsky fell to fifth behind stage winner Roma.
Stage 13, which takes places between Copiapo and La Serena, is the penultimate test for the Dakar competitors.
A half-hour Dakar highlights package is screened on SuperSport2 (DStv channel 202) at 22h00 every day, with five repeats the following day.