Sainz out after accident; Miller 2nd, Gordon 3rd
Dakar Rally leader Carlos Sainz dropped out of the event after he missed a turn and his Volkswagen crashed into a ravine during Thursday's 12th stage. Sainz was not injured, but the two-time world rally champion from Spain and his French teammate Michel Perin were taken by helicopter to Fiambala, where the stage began, Dakar Rally spokeswoman Emilie Poucan told The Associated Press.
Poucan said Sainz could have continued but Perin broke "something in his arm", forcing the pair to pull out.
Sainz missed a sharp turn and his car overturned and tumbled four meters (13 feet) into a dried-out ravine at the 79-kilometer (49-mile mark) of the 253-kilometer (157-mile stage) to La Rioja.
A sign marking the turn read "dangerous" but should have read "extremely dangerous," said Perin, according to the Dakar Rally Web site.
"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.
The 12th stage has been the most difficult since the rally began Jan. 3 in Buenos Aires, said Poucan, with drivers struggling through sand dunes and rain in western Argentina.
Sainz, who had won six of the 10 stages so far, began the stage more than 27 minutes ahead of Mark Miller of the United States, also in a Volkswagen, and 41:13 ahead of Giniel De Villiers of South Africa.
The Spaniard was in third place at the first checkpoint, 43 seconds behind Miller after 62 kilometers (39 miles). Miller was leading at the second checkpoint.
De Villiers powered through the final stretch to win the stage in 4:06:43 and take the overall lead. It was the South African's third stage victory this year and 11th overall.
Miller was second, 16:17 behind. He had been leading at the first and second checkpoints. Robby Gordon of the United States was 25:27 back in third in his Hummer.
Villiers is 2:35 ahead of Miller and 1:18:52 in front of Gordon in the overall standings.