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Dakar Rally leader Sainz out; De Villiers leads

 The car of Volkswagen driver Carlos Sainz, of Spain, is seen crashed during the 12th stage of the Argentina Dakar Rally 2009 between Fiambala and La ...
 The car of Volkswagen driver Carlos Sainz, of Spain, is seen crashed during the 12th stage of the Argentina Dakar Rally 2009 between Fiambala and La ...

Argentina Dakar Rally Sainz Out

The car of Volkswagen driver Carlos Sainz, of Spain, is seen crashed during the 12th stage of the Argentina Dakar Rally 2009 between Fiambala and La ...

Argentina Dakar Rally Sainz Out

The car of Volkswagen driver Carlos Sainz, of Spain, is seen crashed during the 12th stage of the Argentina Dakar Rally 2009 between Fiambala and La ...

Dakar Rally leader Carlos Sainz crashed out of the race and Volkswagen teammate Giniel De Villiers took over the lead on Thursday, two days from the finish.
Sainz missed a sharp turn and his car flipped into a four-meter (13-feet) ravine during the 12th stage between Fiambala and La Rioja.
Co-driver Michel Perin broke his shoulder and the pair was returned to Fiambala by helicopter.
Perin said a sign marking the turn read "dangerous" but should have read "extremely dangerous" about 80 kilometers (50 miles) into the 213-kilometer (132-mile) stage, shortened by 30 kilometers (19 miles) to avoid a recent archaeological discovery near Fiambala.
"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," he said.
Sainz, the two-time world rally champion from Madrid, had dominated the Dakar. He'd led in nine of the 12 days since the race started, including the past week. He'd won six stages _ the last four _ and enjoyed a more than 27-minute lead on teammate Mark Miller of the United States.
This was Sainz's third and best chance yet of winning the Dakar. In the last race in 2007, he was second to De Villiers past midway when electric problems dropped him hours behind. De Villiers' engine broke down on the same stage and the South African lost his chance.
This time, De Villiers was closer to the finish in Buenos Aires, although his lead was slim over Miller.
De Villiers powered through the final section of sand dunes in the rain in western Argentina for his third stage win. Miller came second, just over 16 minutes behind. Robby Gordon of the United States was 25:27 back in third in his Hummer.
"In places we would go around in circles for 15 minutes to find the right trail," De Villiers said. "It was very dangerous and the sand was really soft."
Overall, De Villiers was 2:35 ahead of Miller, and nearly 80 minutes in front of third-placed Gordon.
Sainz's slip-up will have been familiar to uncontested motorbike leader Marc Coma. He led the 2007 race from early on until the penultimate stage, when he crashed into a tree and suffered head injuries, ending his shot at a second straight Dakar title.
This year the Spaniard has led from the start, and maintained a 90-minute lead on Cyril Despres of France, who won in 2007 when Coma wiped out.
Despres won Thursday's stage but Coma was 90 seconds behind in second.
"There was no way you could let your guard down during the whole special stage," Coma said.
Gerard Farres Guell of Spain surged from 20th place to finish third.
Spaniard Cristobal Guerrero, who suffered serious injuries after falling off his motorbike in the Atacama Desert in Chile on Tuesday, remained in an induced coma but was in stable condition on Thursday, Doctor Oscar Lutz, the director of the Copiapo Regional Hospital told The Associated Press.
Lutz said he was considering transferring Guerrero to a hospital in Santiago for additional heart tests.
Friday's stage will travel 545 kilometers (339 miles) from La Rioja to the hills of Cordoba, leaving behind the Andean foothills and tricky sand dunes.
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Associated Press Writer Eduardo Gallardo in Santiago, Chile contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-12 16:17 GMT+08:00