Accident sidelines Dakar leader Sainz
- 16th January 2009, 8:25am
Volkswagen has maintained a one-two lead on what proved to be the Dakar Rallyâ€™s most turbulent day so far.
On the twelfth of 14 legs Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D) in the Race Touareg took the lead in front of their team-mates Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/ZA). Carlos Sainz/Michel PÃ©rin (E/F), who had been leading the rally ever since the seventh leg, retired after an accident.
The 223-kilometre special stage from Fiambala to La Rioja saw not just one but two changes in the lead in the desert classic. Sainz/PÃ©rin had an accident after 79 kilometres, and PÃ©rin was flown out for further medical checks due to a suspected shoulder injury. On the special stage and in the virtual interim classification Miller/Pitchford were running in front over long distances and maintained their lead almost up to the final dune belt of the stage. But then de Villiers/von Zitzewitz converted a 2m18s gap into a 16m17s advantage. They thus took over first place overall as well and, before the last two legs, are running 2m35s in front of Miller/Pitchford, who are also driving a Race Touareg powered by 280 hp.
After the Spaniards Nani Roma/Lucas Cruz in the field of those chasing the front runners, as the only remaining Mitsubishi duo, encountered technical problems, Robby Gordon/Andy Grider (USA/USA) in the Hummer are now in third place overall. However, they are lacking as much as 1h18m to the leading Volkswagen.
Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)
"The most important news is that the accident of Carlos Sainz and Michel PÃ©rin did not result in any serious personal injuries but we still have to wait for the results of the in-depth medical checks. Apparently, Michel sustained a shoulder injury. I talked with both of them on the phone. They are both disappointed that the Dakar Rally is over for them; at the same time, theyâ€™re relieved that the incident did not result in serious consequences. We knew that to win weâ€™d first have to overcome the â€™Dakarâ€™ itself. Our most promising team is now no longer in the race, but with Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford and Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz weâ€™ve still got two irons in the fire to win the Dakar Rally with the Race Touareg.â€
#301 â€“ Carlos Sainz (E), retirement
"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. In the meantime an ASO doctor had arrived who briefly checked Michel PÃ©rin and barred him from continuing the drive on account of a shoulder injury. The Race Touareg was by and large okay, the engine was running. Of course we were lucky in this situation as well. Iâ€™m very disappointed and Iâ€™m very sorry for the team that weâ€™re out, but Iâ€™m hoping that our team will win in the end anyhow.â€
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