Double glory for Africa in Dakar Rally

South African Giniel de Villiers, driving a Volkswagen, won the 11th stage in the Dakar Rally in Bamako, Mali, on Wednesday, and KTM’s Mali-born French rider Alain Duclos became the first competitor from black Africa to win a stage when he won the motorcycle section.

De Villiers timed three hours, seven minutes and one second on the 231km-long timed stage between Kayes and Bamako, 5:33 ahead of Frenchman Bruno Saby (Volkswagen) and 6:03 clear of former French skiing great Luc Alphand in a Mitsubishi.

De Villiers is lying third in the overall standings behind two-time defending champion Stephane Peterhansel, also in a Mitsubishi, who maintains top position with a slightly reduced lead of 25 minutes over Alphand.

“Two African winners on the Dakar—that’s good news,” said De Villiers after his fourth stage win of this year’s rally.

Peterhansel had a far-from-trouble-free day when an error in the rally route planner meant he drove 8km more than necessary.

The Frenchman was then left fuming when rival driver Carlos Sousa refused to pull over and let him pass.

“For 130km we were beeping him, but he never budged. I think it’s the first time I’ve had words with someone,” said Peterhansel, who was a six-time winner in the motorbike discipline before changing to the car one.

However, one former champion had an even more frustrating day as Germany’s Jutta Kleinschmidt had to retire from this year’s edition when her car hit a tree after just 12km and broke her chassis.

The 2001 winner was lying fifth overall.

Like Peterhansel, his compatriot and defending motorbike champion Cyril Despres too had problems with the Dakar’s route planner, which further dented his chances of retaining the title.

“At the 37km marker, the guide told us to take a detour around a village. I tried twice but couldn’t.
Result—I found myself caught up in the dust stirred up by competitors’ bikes who passed through it normally.”

Duclos, who was born in Bamako of a French father and Malian mother, timed 3:16:40 to win the motorbike division, finishing 1:27 ahead of Spain’s Marc Coma and 8:24 in front of American Jonah Street to complete a KTM clean sweep of the podium.

Coma’s second-place finish consolidated his lead in the overall standings, leaving him 34:24 ahead of Despres, also on a KTM.

Thursday’s 12th stage is an 872km-long run from Bamako to Labe. The race finishes in Dakar on Sunday.—Sapa-AFP

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