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Krzysztof Holowczyc wins Dakar stage five to close on Stephane Peterhansel

Kryzstof Holowczyc Mini Dakar Rally 2012

Krzyzstof Holowczyc slashed the gap to Dakar Rally leader Stephane Peterhansel by winning the fifth stage of the event on Thursday.

The X-raid Mini driver completed the 110-mile timed section of the stage from Chilecito to Fiambala - shortened by 30 miles due to overnight rain making a section of the route impassable by car - in 2h10m51, almost four minutes faster than his team-mate Peterhansel.

After losing the rally lead to the Frenchman and dropping to fourth place overall on Wednesday, Holowczyc's stage victory - his first of the 2012 event - hauled him back up to second; halving the gap to the X-raid team leader from over eight minutes to just 4m18s in the process.

The Polish driver's cause was helped by overnight second place man Giniel de Villiers coming to a halt 45 miles into the stage and losing almost 20 minutes to his rivals. The delay dropped the 2009 Dakar winner to fifth place.

Wednesday's stage winner Nani Roma was fourth quickest top third overall in his Mini, ensuring that the X-raid team now occupies all three podium positions. He is a little under 11 minutes off the lead and a just over six minutes behind Holowczyc.

Robby Gordon was second fastest through Thursday's stage - the last to be contained solely within Argentina - and maintained his fourth place overall in the Hummer run by his own team.

Gordon's team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah suffered another frustrating day, however. Having lost half an hour owing to delays on Wednesday, the Qatari fought back and was 3m30s clear of his nearest rival at the fourth of five checkpoints today.

However, he was forced to stop with less than 20 miles remaining when his Hummer's radiator emptied itself, the resultant overheating triggering the car's emergency cut-out. A total of 24 minutes were lost as the system was repaired and the coolant topped-up.

The time loss dropped him almost an hour off the lead and left him eighth overall, behind Leonid Novitskiy (Mini) and Carlos Sousa (Great Wall).

There was also bad news for Orlando Terranova, who was a surprise second quickest on Wednesday. He fell out with his co-driver Andy Grider overnight; the pair refusing to work with each other again. As a result, he was forced to withdraw from the event.

Leading positions after stage five:

Pos  Driver                   Car         Time/Gap
 1.  Stephane Peterhansel     Mini         11h58m03s
 2.  Krzysztof Holowczyc      Mini          + 4m18s
 3.  Nani Roma                Mini         + 10m39s
 4.  Robby Gordon             Hummer       + 13m32s
 5.  Giniel de Villiers       Toyota       + 21m01s
 6.  Leonid Novitskiy         Mini         + 30m51s
 7.  Carlos Sousa             Great Wall   + 40m55s
 8.  Nasser Al-Attiyah        Hummer       + 50m47s
 9.  Erik van Loon            Mitsubishi   + 53m33s
10.  Lucio Alvarez            Toyota       + 59m10s
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