A momentary lapse of concentration has cost Spanish rally driver Carlos Sainz the chance to continue in the Dakar Rally. The two-time champion was left without any hope of winning several days ago already, but he did intend to complete the race and reach Valparaíso this weekend, something he failed to do last year.
His aim in this year’s edition of the grueling rally was to win the odd stage and prove that a buggy can compete with the all-powerful Minis.
But his journey ended in Antofagasta, where he was taken by helicopter following an accident during the 10th stage on Wednesday.
“We finished the first stretch and saw that we didn't have enough gas to complete the second part," explained Sainz, 51, after taking a shower. "So we went looking for a gas station."
"We realized we didn't have any money to pay for the gas"
After searching for fuel on the route that connects the two timed sections of Stage 10, Sainz wasted even more time when he realized that "we didn't have any money to pay for it."
After dealing with the situation, the buggy pulled out of the gas station fast in an attempt to make up for precious lost minutes. “We were a bit tight on time," he explained.
But there was a bend right outside the gas station, and as Sainz was buckling up, he lost control of the buggy, flipping it over twice. Even though he was not wearing his regulation helmet at the time, he was not seriously injured, and nor was his co-pilot Timo Göttschalk. “I'm going to see the doctor again now, but there's nothing wrong with me, just aches. It was a good blow."
The winner of the 2010 Dakar, who told fans of his accident via his Twitter account before meeting with the press, added that "you take many risks, sometimes you avoid [accidents] by the skin of your teeth, and then, a silly thing like that happens on a link road..."
While Sainz is disappointed about the turn of events, he said he was proud of his team's work. "We are a private team and we have a car that has got the Minis into trouble; we have won two specials. I am leaving with that good feeling. It is the most positive thing about this race. The end is a mere anecdote."