de Villiers Dakar action.jpg © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Giniel talks about changing tactics as he keeps a steady pace through the fesh-fesh of the Atacama Desert

We had to put up with some fast times from Stephane [Peterhansel] and Robby [Gordon] on the stage today. Those guys were ten minutes away from anyone else. It proved impossible to live with their speed today (11 January).

The stage put us in the fesh-fesh and for that type of sand you need extra torque to push on through. Once again the soft sand suited the bigger engines better than ours. It’s been like that on other days so Dirk and myself have got used to focusing on our own race. We put our effort into keeping our noses clean and making it through to the finish.

We’ve come up to Chile's north with this race in the last few years but I still find every stage interesting. Today was a really long stage and it’s hard to maintain a really intensive approach when you’re out there racing for over four and half hours. I think Dirk found the navigation a little dull because the tracks were always right in front of us.

"Today was a really long stage and it’s hard to maintain a really intensive approach when you’re out there racing for over four and half hours"

I suppose the main difference for us is that this year we are not fighting at the front where you have to protect every single second. Our mindset is a little different because of this and the focus becomes making sure you bring the car to the finish line. It’s just a different way of playing the game.

We went past Nasser [Al-Attiyah] on the stage and then we never saw him again. He’s been battling hard but it now looks like the race is over for my old team-mate. Seeing him deal with such an unreliable machine makes me grateful for having my car parked up in the bivouac at the end of each day.

Keep tabs on Giniel’s 2012 Dakar Rally on Red Bull’s dedicated desert classic website.

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