Neom, Saudi Arabia: South African driver Giniel de Villiers won the second stage of the Dakar Rally on Monday while former Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso dropped two and-a-half hours after losing a wheel.
De Villiers, who lost 23 minutes when he finished 14th in Sunday’s opening stage, bounced back strongly over the 401 kilometre-route, of which 367 were a special between Al-Wajh and Neom.
Many drivers had navigational problems and de Villiers took advantage of a mistake by long time stage leader Yazeed Al-Rajhi to guide his Toyota home in 3 hrs 37 mins 20 secs.
The 47-year-old crossed the line 3 mins 57 secs ahead of Orlando Terranova who now heads the overall standings in his Mini.
The Argentinian, who was sixth in the opening stage, is almost five minutes ahead of fellow Mini driver Carlos Sainz.
Defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah came in fifth on stage two and is six minutes off the lead while 13-time champion Stephane Peterhansel already trails by 13 minutes.
Alonso suffered his first major problem in his first Dakar when he ground to a halt with a damaged wheel. He was running fourth after 100 kilometres of the special when the problem occurred.
The Spaniard had no option but to wait for his assistance team before he was able to resume. However, his chances of reaching the podium already look unlikely.
On the motorcycles, Ross Branch won his first stage on the Dakar after a perfectly controlled day’s riding.
The Botswanan finished 1 min 24 secs ahead of 2017 winner Sam Sunderland who now leads the bikes category, 1 min 18 secs ahead of Pablo Quintanilla.
On Tuesday, the rally heads out on a 489km round trip which starts and ends in Neom.