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.


Europe mulls finishing football season at end of year

Updated 28 March 2020

Europe mulls finishing football season at end of year

  • The novel coronavirus has created an existential challenge to the world’s most widely played and watched sport
  • Most European leagues are supposed to start their 2019-20 seasons at the end of August

ROME: Europe’s football bosses have not given up hope of finishing this pandemic-hit season — even if it might have to be done at the start of the next one.
The novel coronavirus has created an existential challenge to the world’s most widely played and watched sport.
Europe’s football leagues are the planet’s richest and can afford to pay the most money to the biggest stars.
But that system could come crumbling down quickly if there is nothing to show on TV.
Cristian Ronaldo has not had a chance to celebrate goals for Juventus for nearly three weeks because Italy’s Serie A had to shut down.
He and other Italian league stars are thinking of giving up millions of euros in salary to help their teams stay solvent.
UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin told Italy’s La Repubblica daily that he was holding urgent talks with the continent’s biggest leagues to figure out what can be done.
The Slovenian said all options were under consideration in an effort to salvage the season and preserve the sanctity of the beautiful game.
“We could start again in mid-May, in June or even late June,” Ceferin said.
Any time after that and “the season will probably be lost.”
The idea of the entire season simply being canceled stirs panic in fans of clubs such as Liverpool — on the cusp of lifting their first title in 30 years.
Ronaldo’s Juventus would probably not be terribly happy either. The men in the famous black-and-white stripes are edging Lazio by a point in their race for a ninth successive title and are still in the Champions League, which they have not won since 1996.
Ceferin said he opposed the idea of playing games in empty stadiums and would prefer to wait out the pandemic.
He also hinted that some big teams appeared ready to delay the start of next season in ordered to finish out this one.
“There is also a proposal to end this season at the beginning of the next one and then start the next one a little later,” Ceferin said.
Serie A and most other European leagues were originally supposed to have finished in May.
Belarus remain the only European nation still playing football in the face of a pandemic that by Saturday had officially claimed nearly 30,000 lives.
Italy’s world-leading death toll from Friday was 9,134.
But the scheduling is growing tricky and time appears to be running out.
Most European leagues are supposed to start their 2019-20 seasons at the end of August.
Italy still has more than two regular months of matches of the 2018-19 season to play out.
A resumption of the current season at the end of June would probably require a delay to the start of the next one until at least September or October.
It would also mean that players get very little rest and would also create problems for those whose contracts are expiring in June.
Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina sounded fine with that.
“We would all be happy to finish the season on the pitch,” said Gravina told Sky television.
“We are in contact with FIFA for contract extensions if we need to go beyond June 30.”
Gravina did not explain why he was talking to the world football governing body and not the European one headed by Ceferin.
But he did conceded that his earlier hope of restarting Italian matches in early May was now almost certainly dashed.
“I am aware that it is still too early,” said Gravina. “But we must think positively.”