Spanish two-time rally champion Carlos Sainz, who was leading the Dakar, has quit after crashing. He was unhurt while his co-pilot injured his arm. Sainz blames a lack of information concerning an "extremely dangerous passageway".
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Find out more on yesterday's special stage Copiapo-Copiapo
AFP - Spain's two-time rally world champion Carlos Sainz, who was leading the Dakar Rally, crashed out of the gruelling event during Thursday's 12th stage.
Rally organisers said that Sainz and his French co-pilot Michel Perin had arrived by helicopter at the bivouac in Fiambala, the starting point for the 518km stage.
"Sainz is said to have careered into a ravine after 79km of the day’s special stage," organisers said of the Volkswagen driver who had won six stages of this year's edition of the Dakar, including the last four.
Sainz's co-pilot Perin suffered a broken bone in his arm, and was left ruing a missed turn and a road sign that was not as clear as he thought it should have been.
"We had made a small mistake in the first part," he said. "We took the wrong direction at a Y crossing but it was not too bad because we did end up on the right trail.
"We were tailing Giniel De Villiers who had started about 10sec after us so it was still sort of okay.
"Then there was a hidden waypoint with a wadi indicated as 'danger'. But it should have been indicated as 'extremely dangerous'.
"By the way, the car behind us, Nani Roma's car, would have fallen in the same hole as we did if we had not been there already. I'm okay; I just have something broken in my arm, but I'm alright."
At the start of the 12th stage, which includes a 220km special, Sainz was 27min 31sec ahead of Mark Miller of the United States, with South African Giniel De Villiers almost 14min further adrift in third.
Both Miller and De Villiers are VW team-mates of the Spaniard.
Sainz's withdrawal is the second time during this Dakar that the lead has changed in dramatic circumstances.
At the end of the sixth stage, between the Argentine cities of San Rafael and Mendoza, Qatar's BMW driver Nasser al-Attiyah, the then-leader, was kicked out after he skipped nine mandatory way points as his car threatened to overheat.
Sainz was competing in his third Dakar Rally, with his best showing a ninth-placed finish in 2007.
Date created : 2009-01-15