Giniel De Villiers wins Dakar Rally second stage in Neom, Fernando Alonso loses wheel

A helicopter flies as Toyota's driver Fernando Alonso of Spain and co-driver Marc Coma of Spain compete during the Stage 2 of the Dakar 2020 between Al Wajh and Neom. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 06 January 2020

Giniel De Villiers wins Dakar Rally second stage in Neom, Fernando Alonso loses wheel

  • Alonso suffered his first major problem in his maiden Dakar appearance
  • On Tuesday, the rally heads out on a 489 km round trip which starts and ends in Neom

NEOM: South African driver Giniel De Villiers won the second stage of the Dakar Rally on Monday while former Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso was "glad to be able to continue" after dropping two-and-a-half hours when losing a wheel.
Alonso suffered his first major problem in his maiden Dakar appearance when he ground to a halt when his near front wheel "completely ripped off".

"He said sorry to us, I think he knew it was his fault," Toyota Overdrive boss Jean-Marc Fortin said.
"He had the necessary (equipment) to repair it but he first had to find the wheel because it had careered off into the distance," Fortin reported.
"When they found it, it wasn't round but oval."

------

PHOTOS: Dakar 2020: Stage 2 Al-Wajh to Neom

------

The 38-year-old Spaniard had downplayed his prospects of creating history by becoming the first F1 world champion to win the Dakar in the run up to Sunday's start of the 42nd edition.
And realistically his chances now of reaching the podium look remote after just two days of the gruelling 7,500 kilometre desert odyssey.
When he finally made it across the finish line Alonso cut a relaxed figure, despite the wheel drama which he put down to being blinded by dust thrown up by cars ahead of him.
"When you come on the Dakar you come for all the hazards it entails, today was one of them. I'm glad to be here and to be able to continue the rally," said the 2005 and 2006 F1 champion.

His Toyota teammate 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 367km 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 3hrs 37mins 20secs.
The 47-year-old crossed the line 3mins 57secs ahead of Orlando Terranova who now heads the overall standings in his Mini.

------

READ MORE: Arab News' dedicated Dakar Rally Spotlight

------

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 after a problem with his car's steering column.
On the motorcycles, Ross Branch won his first stage on the Dakar after a perfectly controlled day's riding.
The Botswanan finished 1min 24secs ahead of 2017 winner Sam Sunderland who now leads the bikes category, 1min 18secs ahead of Pablo Quintanilla.
On Tuesday, the rally heads out on a 489 km round trip which starts and ends in Neom.


Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

Updated 08 July 2020

Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

  • The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded

SHANGHAI: The retirement of two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan signals the end of a golden era of Chinese sporting superstars, state media said on Tuesday.

Arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, the 36-year-old said on Saturday that he was bringing the curtain down on a career that also brought five world titles.

NBA All-Star Yao Ming, Olympic gold-medal hurdler Liu Xiang and two-time tennis Grand Slam champion Li Na have all retired in the last decade.

“With the ‘Super Dan’ curtain call, people cannot help but sigh,” Xinhua news agency said.

“The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded.

“When will the next Lin Dan appear? Or when will the next Yao Ming, Liu Xiang and Li Na appear?

“Where is the next Chinese sports superstar who will create a collective memory for us?”

The quartet were not just world leaders in their sport and popular in China, but also had “considerable influence in the international arena and became a window for the world to understand China,” Xinhua said.

Of prominent Chinese athletes left, women’s volleyball player Zhu Ting has the potential to rise to superstar level, Xinhua said, while disgraced swimmer Sun Yang “enjoys high popularity (in China), but unfortunately he is banned.” 

The 28-year-old is appealing against an 8-year ban for refusing to give a doping sample. The three-time Olympic freestyle champion’s career will effectively be over if he loses his appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

China has world champions in other sports, and finished third behind the US and Britain in the medal table at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but they are not generally well-known even inside the country, Xinhua said.

Table tennis player Zhang Jike, another three-time Olympic gold medalist, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Lin, said the Oriental Sports Daily.

But at 32 his best days are behind him and as far back as 2016 he signaled his intention to retire, before having a change of heart.

“When will the next Lin Dan and China’s next sports superstar appear again?” asked the newspaper.

“This question may not be answered in a short space of time.”