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)
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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."

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

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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.

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READ MORE: Arab News' dedicated Dakar Rally Spotlight

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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.


Booker’s 35 points lead surprising Suns past Heat 119-112

Updated 09 August 2020

Booker’s 35 points lead surprising Suns past Heat 119-112

  • The Suns continued to thrive as the only undefeated team in the NBA restart
  • Miami is currently the No. 4 team in the Eastern Conference playoff standings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: Devin Booker scored 35 points and Jevon Carter added a season-high 20 points as the Phoenix Suns remained undefeated in the NBA restart, beating the Miami Heat 119-112 on Saturday night.
Carter made six of eight 3-pointers as the Suns improved to 5-0 in the restart.
“I think this bubble opportunity was big for us and we’re taking advantage of it,” Booker said.
Miami is currently the No. 4 team in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro each had 25 points to lead the Heat.
The Suns continued to thrive as the only undefeated team and biggest surprise in the Disney bubble.
Phoenix began the restart schedule with the second-worst record of the 22 teams in the field and the worst mark in the Western Conference.
“I just think we had a group who wanted to come here and prove they were worthy of being here,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “They heard a lot of stuff that was being said.”
The Suns have played like serious playoff contenders. Led by Booker, Phoenix had wins over Washington, Dallas, the Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana before beating Miami. The Suns entered Saturday’s schedule only 2 1/2 games behind eighth-place Memphis.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said his team must be better at winning battles for the ball.
“Those second-chance opportunities during those swing moments during the course of the game really kept us at bay and kept them in control when they needed to do it,” Spoelstra said.
Miami had an opportunity late in the game.
Three free throws by Robinson cut the Suns’ lead to 115-112 before Miami’s Bam Adebayo was called for goaltending on a shot by Booker. The review with 11.2 seconds remaining confirmed the call and extended the lead to five points.
Led by its backcourt scoring from Herro and Robinson, Miami quickly led by double figures at 19-8. The Heat couldn’t pull away and the teams were tied at 60-all at halftime. The Suns led 88-86 entering the final period.

TIP-INS
Suns: Rookie F Cameron Johnson made two 3-pointers in the first half, becoming the fastest player to reach 100 career 3s in team history. ... Ricky Rubio had seven points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Deandre Ayton had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Heat: Goran Dragic (sprained left ankle) missed his second straight game. Jimmy Butler (sore right ankle) missed his third straight game. Kendrick Nunn and KZ Okpala were held out for personal reasons.

TURN UP THE HEAT
Miami is facing pressure to protect its No. 4 spot in the East. It is only one game ahead of Philadelphia and Indiana, now tied for fifth. Two of Miami’s three remaining games before the playoffs are against Indiana.
“We also want to continue to get healthy and the No. 1 priority will be getting ready for the playoffs and getting our game right,” Spoelstra said.


RUNNING THE SHOW
Herro is being given more responsibility as the point guard and said he “felt comfortable” in the role.
“I’ve been working really hard with the ball in my hands,” Herro said, adding Spoelstra “has really been helping me a lot. My teammates are starting to trust me more. I’m still young and I’m learning a lot.”

UP NEXT
Suns: Play the Thunder on Monday.
Heat: Play the Pacers on Monday night.