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Motorsport | Dakar Rally

Riaan van Niekerk © Reuters

South Africans holding their own in Dakar

South Africa enjoyed a successful day at the Dakar Rally, with four of the country's five competitors either moving up the field or retaining their positions after the 218km seventh stage between Calam, Chile, and Salta, Argentina, on Friday.

Giniel de Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, who continued to lead the four-wheel drive petrol T1.1 class, finished fifth for the stage in the cars category, holding on to third place overall.

They remained 44 minutes behind race leader Stephane Peterhansel of France.

“We got through the special stage well today and conceded a surprisingly small amount of time to the diesel cars. They have a physical advantage at that kind of altitude," De Villiers said.

"The second part of the stage was narrow and winding – rather like stages in the World Rally Championship. Just one tough stage on Saturday and we'll be having a very welcome rest day on Sunday.“

Sarel van Biljon, the only South African in the quad bikes division, again crossed the line in third for the stage to retain his fourth position overall.

In the bikes category, Riaan van Niekerk continued to impress, completing the stage in 12th position and clinging to 16th overall.

Darryl Curtis was the only SA participant who fell back in the stage, which he ended in 22nd place, dropping one position to 20th in the standings.

Countryman Brett Cummings continued his rapid move further back in the field, taking 37th place in the stage and climbing another 10 places to 68th overall.

Cummings rocketed through the field, moving up 22 places in the sixth and seventh stages.


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