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Optic Tunisia: De Villiers happy about the first stagewin.

Volkswagen factory driver Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz moved up to second place overall behind Mitsubishi driver Stéphane Peterhansel after winning the Tunisian Rally’s third stage. It was the seventh stage win for Volkswagen this year, the 30th overall.

"I’m delighted to have taken my first stage win on this rally" said Giniel de Villiers in the Bivouac. Like the other drivers also De Villiers had problems with the bad weather today: "The visibility was very bad today because it was so overcast and also due to the rain, it was very difficult to make out the crest of the dunes. The navigation was also very tricky, we had to retrace our tracks on one occasion, but the other teams lost much more time."

On the rally’s longest stage, 325 kilometres, Carlos Sainz initially led the field but lost about 20 minutes and dropped from third to fifth position overall after making a navigational error and subsequently getting bogged down in soft sand. "We overtook Peterhansel and Schlesser and were right behind Alphand" said the Spaniard Sainz, "just before the fourth hidden check point we realised that we’d driven four kilometres too far to the north. While our rivals followed a loop further to the north we decided to drive due south and lost more than 20 minutes when we got bogged down in soft sand."

Today´s stagewin and the new second-overall position of Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz makes Volkswagen´s Motorsport Director Kris Nissen smile again: "The third stage was very successful for us" said the danish Motorsport-Expert, "Giniel has closed the gap to current leader Stéphane Peterhansel."

2006/04/13 I 16:57 CET I Editor:

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