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Motorsport | Dakar Rally

De Villiers hangs on to third at Dakar



South African Giniel de Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz retained third position after the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally in Chile on Thursday.

De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz, driving an Imperial Toyota Hilux, finished sixth in the stage as they continued to trail defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France, and Qatar's 2011 champion Nasser Al-Attiyah and Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz.

The South African driver, more than 42 minutes behind the overall leaders, was bogged down in soft sand and stopped to avoid the stranded Mini of Spain's Nani Roma and French co-driver Michel Perin, who had driven into a deep hole.

“It was a frustrating incident and happened after we had been stuck behind Roma in his dust for some kilometres," De Villiers said.

"We pushed hard afterwards to make up some of the lost time and are happy to have kept our third place in the race.

"There is still a long way to go. We will continue to race our race and do our best.

"It's not about winning stages, but all about maintaining a good pace each day and finishing without any major delay.”

Meanwhile, Sarel van Biljon, the only South African in the quad bike division, finished third in the stage, climbing one position to fourth overall.

In the bikes category, Riaan van Niekerk finished 15th in the stage to leapfrog Darryl Curtis as the leading SA rider. Van Niekerk climbed one place to 16th overall.

“It was a trouble-free day today. I had a lot of fast guys a way ahead of me, so I had a clear run – not too much dust. I was making dust," Van Niekerk said.

"I concentrated on navigation. This was good because I had to concentrate on the road book and make sure I didn't make any mistakes.”

Curtis crossed the line in 25th place for the stage and dropped four positions to 19th.

"It was very dusty. I didn't have a great day," Curtis said.

"I caught up with a couple of riders and really played it safe for the rest of the stage.

"I've moved backwards in the overall standings and Riaan has moved forward. He had another good day.

"We're crossing the Andes Mountains tomorrow and are going to have some high altitude stages. It should be interesting.”

Countryman Brett Cummings completed the stage in a credible 44th place, rising 12 positions up the overall rankings to 78th.

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