(Reuters) - Argentine driver Orlando Terranova led the Dakar Rally after the second stage in Saudi Arabia on Monday while double Formula One champion Fernando Alonso smashed his Toyota’s suspension on a rock and dropped to 48th.
Alonso had been fourth in his Hilux pickup after 100km but the Dakar debutant lost two-and-a-half hours to repair a broken wheel on the 367km stage from Al Wajh to the desert city of Neom.
The Spaniard, with co-driver and five-times Dakar winner Marc Coma, had been 11th overnight.
“Good day in terms of pace (third in the firsts splits) and in terms of navigation, that we were very comfortable. Bad day in terms of result,” Alonso said on Instagram.
“We lost more than two hours repairing a hit in the front axle. Tomorrow more action! A lot of rally ahead of us.”
Terranova, driving a Mini, finished second in the stage won by Toyota’s South African Giniel De Villiers to carve out a lead of four minutes and 43 seconds over Spaniard Carlos Sainz in a Mini buggy.
“It was very tricky, especially towards the end when we lost a lot of minutes. We had trouble finding our way and had to turn back two times, 3km back and forwards. It was tricky, but at least there were no punctures today,” Sainz said.
Defending champion Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar was in third place for Toyota and six minutes off the lead. De Villiers, winner in 2009, moved up to sixth overall but 12 minutes behind Terranova.
Lithuanian Vaidotas Zala, the overnight leader in a Mini, dropped to fifth.
Navigational problems affected some of the favourites, including Al-Attiyah and Saudi driver Yazeed al-Rajhi, who led through the first five waypoints before losing time towards the end and finishing ninth overall.
“In one area, we saw Nasser going the opposite way,” said Terranova. “We knew that we were going in the right way, but we did a loop and it was a big mess.”
France’s 13-times Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel dropped to eighth place in his Mini buggy.
In the motorcycle category, Botswana’s Ross Branch won the stage while Britain’s Sam Sunderland was runner-up and took over at the top for KTM, ahead of Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla.
Siarhei Viazovich of Belarus led the truck category after winning the stage, with Russian Dmitry Sotnikov four minutes and 20 seconds behind.
Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge