2009 Dakar Rally, Argentina-Chile
Stage 13: La Rioja to Cordoba
For the penultimate stage of this year's Dakar Rally, the theme was preservation and, for the winning driver in the car class, redemption.
The car class standings saw no change as the Volkswagen team banded together to run the shortened special (137 miles) as a group. All three VWs finished in the top 10, with German Dieter Depping in fourth, American Mark Miller seventh and overall leader Giniel de Villiers of South Africa in eighth. The VW strategy allowed de Villiers to maintain more than a two-minute lead over Miller in the standings.
Spain's Nani Roma, who dropped out of the top five in the overall standings after having engine problems in his Mitsubishi in Stage 12, earned his first stage win. Roma finished 7 minutes, 18 seconds ahead of the Nissan of Polish driver Krzysztof Holowczyc.
NASCAR star Robby Gordon, above, remains third overall in his Hummer despite finishing 16th Friday, 22:49 back of Roma. According to dakar.com, Gordon stopped for about 20 minutes because of mechanical problems early in the special. He now trails de Villiers by 1:27:13.
In motorbikes, Spain's Marc Coma maintained his very comfortable 90-minute lead with a second-place result Friday. Coma's main rival, Cyril Despres, won the stage, but only by 1:45 over Coma. It was Despres' fifth stage win of this rally and 21st in his Dakar career.
Go here for more news, complete results and standings.
-- Michele Vincze
Photo: The Associated Press