BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Robby Gordon finished third in the 12th stage of the Dakar Rally on Thursday, 25 minutes, 27 seconds behind winner Giniel De Villiers of South Africa, who took the overall lead with his third stage victory.
Gordon also is third in the overall standings, 1:18:52 behind the leader. An American has never won the race in the event's 30-year history.
De Villiers won the stage in 4:06:43. Mark Miller of the United States, who was leading at the first two checkpoints, finished second, 16:17 behind.
Carlos Sainz, who had won six of the 10 stages (Wednesday's 11th stage was canceled because of heavy fog) and began Thursday's leg more than 27 minutes ahead of Miller and 41:13 ahead of De Villiers, dropped out of the race after crashing into a ravine. He was not injured, but the two-time world rally champion from Spain and his French teammate Michel Perin were taken by helicopter to Fiambala, where the stage began, Dakar Rally spokeswoman Emilie Poucan told The Associated Press.
Poucan said Sainz could have continued but Perin broke "something in his arm," forcing the pair to pull out of the event.
Sainz missed a sharp turn and his Volkswagen flipped and tumbled 13 feet into a dried-out ravine at the 49-mile mark of the 157-mile stage to La Rioja.
A sign marking the turn read "dangerous" but should have read "extremely dangerous," said Perin, according to the Dakar Rally Web site.
"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," he said.
The 12th stage has been the most difficult since the rally began Jan. 3 in Buenos Aires, said Poucan, with drivers struggling through sand dunes and rain in western Argentina.
The rally covering 5,950 miles ends Jan. 18 in Buenos Aires. - ap
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