Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 19 News List

De Villiers extends lead in Dakar rally with stage victory


South Africa's Giniel De Villiers maintained his stranglehold on the Dakar Rally on Sunday when he claimed victory in the eighth stage.

Race leader De Villiers, driving a Volkswagen, finished ahead of French Mitsubishi pair Stephane Peterhansel and Luc Alphand on the stage from Atar to Tichit.

Spaniard Marc Coma, riding a KTM, took the motorbike honors ahead of Cyril Despres of France and Pal Anders Ullevalseter of Norway.

"It was a very hard day," said de Villiers, who now leads Peterhansel by 31 minutes 13 seconds in the overall standings.

Nearly stuck

"The first dunes were very soft whereas at the briefing we had been told that it would mainly be the second series that would be a problem. We just barely managed not to get stuck," he said.

"Then for the second set of dunes we stopped to deflate out of caution but it was not really necessary. It's a pity because we must have lost five or six minutes there," De Villiers said.

"After that it was really difficult to have a clean drive on very curvy and rocky trails. Of course it's good that we stole some time from Mitsubishi," he said.


"In the overall rankings, 30 minutes does not mean much. We saw today with Carlos Sainz that problems can be costly real quick," he said.

Sainz, the former world rally champion, lost more than an hour on the stage because of a power steering failure on his Volkswagen, and plummeted to fourth overall.

He is now over an hour behind the South African after having led the race in its early stages.

Coma won his third stage of this year's race, 10 minutes ahead of KTM teammate Despres and has a 54-minute overall lead.

"It was a difficult stage, which became even more difficult due to the sandstorm. I got a good starting position in the first part of the stage," Coma said.

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