Another fine effort by Mark Corbett and Francois Jordaan in the 13th and penultimate special stage of the Dakar Rally in South America saw the South African privateers achieve their best stage result to date when they brought their Century Racing CR4 buggy across the finish line in 14th place.
With just a short, 29-km final stage remaining between Pisco and the Peruvian capital Lima on Sunday, Corbett is about to successfully complete his first-ever Dakar and co-driver Jordaan will be celebrating his second finish in as many attempts. They are currently lying an excellent 24th overall.
Saturday’s 275-kilometre special stage between Nazca and Pisco in Peru included the most difficult stretch of sand dunes encountered on this year’s Dakar and many of the top competitors in the car, motorcycle, quad and truck categories were caught out.
France’s Stephane Peterhansel virtually assured himself of his 10th Dakar victory when he won the stage in his Mini, finishing eight minutes ahead of South Africa’s 2009 Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Hilux) and nearly 13 minutes ahead of Russian Leonid Novitskiy in another Mini. De Villiers’ team-mate Duncan Vos was 15th in a second Toyota.
Nani Roma of Spain, who was seventh in a Mini in Saturday’s stage, remains second overall, 42 minutes behind Peterhansel. De Villiers is third, half an hour behind Roma.
“It was a good stage for us, our best so far,” said Corbett. “We did very well in the sand dunes after starting in 17th place on the road and were up to 11th when we got stuck for the first time. Cars and trucks were marooned all over the place and we were lucky to only lose about 20 minutes altogether after twice having to dig ourselves out of the sand.”
As the world’s longest and toughest motor race winds comes to an end it continues to exact a high price from the competitors. Of the 161 cars that started out from Mar de Plata in Argentina on January 1, just 79 remain to tackle the final stage on Sunday. The motorcycle contingent has been reduced from 178 to 98, while only 12 of the original 30 quads and 60 of the 74 trucks are still running.
“It’s all catching up with us now and Francois and I, and I’m sure our entire team, will be very relieved to see the finishing podium in Lima. Our aim was to finish and it looks like we’re going to achieve this.”
information supplied by: Peter Burroughes Communications