Giniel de Villiers has jumped from third to first overall in the Dakar Rally after winning a treacherous twelfth stage from Fiambala to La Rioja.

The Volkswagen man made the most of the retirement of leader Carlos Sainz to take the lead of the event with his stage win moving him ahead of Mark Miller - who had inherited the lead when Sainz retired.

Spaniard Sainz had dominated the event with six stage wins out of ten, but was caught out by a ravine just 79km into the test and rolled his Race Touareg, with the former WRC title winner forced to quit due to an injury sustained by co-driver Michel Perrin.

"We had made a small mistake in the first part," Perrin said. "We took the wrong direction at a Y crossing but it was not too bad because we did end up on the right trail. We were tailing Giniel de Villiers who had started about 10mins after us so it was still sort of okay Then there was a hidden waypoint with a wadi indicated as 'danger'. But it should have been indicated as 'extremely dangerous'.

"By the way, the car behind us, Nani Roma's car, would have fallen in the same hole as we did if we had not been there already. I'm okay; I just have something broken in my arm, but I'm alright."

The demise of Sainz put Miller into the lead of the event but he was gradually overhauled by de Villiers who reached the finish just over 16 minutes ahead and now leads Miller in the standings by two and a half minutes after a test where most competitors ran into problems.

"It was really a tough stage," he said. "In places we would go around in circles for 15 minutes to find the right trail. It was very dangerous and the sand was really soft. We stopped a first time to deflate our tyres, then a second time in a huge canyon with tons of boulders. Dirk [Von Zitzewitz] had to get out of the car to find a way out. It was really a tough day."

Team-mate Miller agreed that the stage had been arguably the most challenging of the event so far, stating that it could have been the most difficult he has faced in his career to date.

"I can tell you that this was a very demanding stage," he said. "I cannot even imagine how the amateurs will make it to the finish today. It was not just difficult, navigation was almost impossible. It was a long series of horror situations from start to finish. These were the longest 200km in my life."

Behind the leading Volkswagen pair, Robby Gordon was third quickest in his Hummer, with the American now into the same position overall, but there was more disappointment for Mitsubishi in what has proved to be a difficult Dakar debut for the new Racing Lancer. He was forced to stop in the stage, and at the time of writing has yet to make it to the end.

Dieter Depping was fourth quickest through the stage in the third remaining Volkswagen ahead of the BMW of Leonid Novitsky and the Nissan of Ivar Erik Tollefsen.

Argentina-Chile Dakar 2009 - Positions on SS12:

1. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen Touareg 04hrs 06m 43s
2. Mark Miller Volkswagen Touareg +0hrs 16m 17s
3. Robby GordonHummer H3+0hrs 25m 27s
4. Dieter Depping Volkswagen Touareg +0hrs 42m 02s
5. Leonid Novitsky BMW X3 CC +0hrs 55m 25s
6. Ivar Erik Tollefsen Nissan Navara +1hrs 15m 16s

Argentina-Chile Dakar 2009 - Positions after SS12:*

1. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen Touareg 43hrs 46m 58s
2. Mark Miller Volkswagen Touareg +0hrs 02m 35s
3. Robby GordonHummer H3+1hrs 18m 52s
4. Ivar Erik Tollefsen Nissan Navara+5hrs 48m 21s
5. Krzysztof Holowczyc Nissan Navara+6hrs 44m 42s
6. Dieter Depping Volkswagen Touareg +8hrs 33m 23s

* - pending Nani Roma making it to the end of the stage



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