Neom, Saudi Arabia: 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.” 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. — Reuters