De Villiers closes in on podium finish
Giniel de Villiers looks set to finish on the podium – barring any mishaps in the last two legs – after retaining second place overall in the Dakar Rally in Argentina on Friday.
"It was not an easy day, but we're happy to be here," De Villiers said after finishing third in the 12th stage between Fiambala, Argentina, and Copiapo in Chile.
"We just wanted to have a clean stage, but for sure, today's stage was a lot tougher than I expected it to be.
"With a long liaison this morning at high altitude, that makes you really tired as well and it needed a lot of concentration."
While he made up one minute, 38 seconds on overall leader Stephane Peterhansel, De Villiers remained more than 50 minutes behind the Frenchman in the standings.
The South African, who won the race in 2009, held a comfortable cushion of 40 minutes over Spaniard Nani Roma in third.
Friday´s penultimate special stage between Copiapo and La Serena in Chile will show respect to a local meteorological phenomenon, called Camanchaca.
This stubborn fog will be very dense during the first part of the morning and the rally will only get underway once it has lifted.
"I think tomorrow's going to be tough as well, more tough than today," De Villiers said. "It's not over yet."
Meanwhile, in the bikes division, Riaan van Niekerk was 20th for the stage, dropping back one place to 14th overall, while Darryl Curtis had another tough day, crossing the line in 89th position and falling to 29th in the standings.
Brett Cummings was 35th and rose another five positions to 50th in the two-week race.
"The special in Chile was quite rough – a lot of sand and a lot of navigation," Van Niekerk said.
"It was hard to make up time, especially if riders were following you.
"Overall, I'm feeling good and looking forward to the last two stages and reaching the finish in Santiago."
Sarel van Biljon managed a credible sixth in the quads division, but he remained 21st of the 25 quads left in the race, more than 15 hours off the pace of the leaders.