DAKAR – DRAMA ALREADY! – Despres wins amid on & off track challenges

Dakar 2018 got down to serious business with a bruising second day across a 263km route of dune racing around the Peruvian port of Pisco, with the event starting out cruel for some as top contenders faltered and crashed and a timing system glitch initially spat out wrong results to get many a hope a little too high…

It appears that there was some sort of glitch in the Dakar timing service that initially showed South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers as having won the day and also as the overall leader. The system then crashed and when it spluttered back to life, Giniel was however credited with fourth for the day, 7 minutes behind a Peugeot 1-2-3  headed by stage winner, Frenchman Cyril Despres ahead of teammates and countrymen Stephane Peterhansel and Sebastien Loeb,

Giniel did have a great final section in the real world, as he passed both Orlando Terranova’s fifth placed Mini and Carlos Sainz’ Peugeot in that dramatic last sector to move into fourth overall behind Peterhansel, Despres and Loeb and ahead of Sainz and Terranova in the overall standings. Miko Hirvonen brought the Mini buggy home seventh ahead of overnight leader Nasser Al Attiyah in the second Toyota, Martin Prokop in a SA-built Ford Ranger and Ronan Chabot in a Toyota, to make it four South African-built cars in the top ten.

Also of South African interest, Hennie de Klerk was having a good day as we wrote, moving up to 30th from his 59th starting position in the TreasuryOne Amarok.

The Peugeots dominated from the outset, with an intra-team battle raging between the four drivers and the lead swapping between Peterhansel and Despres as Loeb kept a watching brief. The Borgward that so impressed on Saturday faded, while several other drivers struggled through a day of attrition.

Dakar rookie Bryce Menzies, who was fourth overnight, crashed his Mini buggy heavily to retire, while the Minis of Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Boris Garafulic collided in the dunes with both crews waiting for assistance to repair their vehicles among the many tales of woe of a rough and tough second day of Dakar 2018…

Spain’s Joan Barreda took the two wheeler day and the overall lead for Honda ahead of French Yamaha’ rider Adrien Van Beveren and Austrian Matthias Walner’s KTM, Honda riders Michel Metge and Kevin Benevedes with Pablo Quintanilla sixth for Husqvarna. Of the South Africans, David Thomas has slipped to 58th, Donovan van der KLangeberg 78th, Wessel Bosman was 95th and Gerrie van der Byl and Wessel Bosman riding together in 119th and 120th at various waypoints along the route. The quad and truck races were still running at the time of writing

Monday sees crews heading straight back into the desert for Dakar’s third special stage, once again around Pisco, before a 296km liaison down south to San Juan de Marcona, With two-thirds of the stage again through the dunes…

Foto: Red Bull