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2012-01-17 20:33

BACK HOME AGAIN: South African racing driver Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz on their way to third in the Dakar rally. They flew into Johannesburg today. Image: AFP

Wesley Botton

Johannesburg - South Africa's Dakar Rally drivers and riders, after two weeks cramped in a bouncing, speeding vehicle or wrestling a motorcycle across mountains and deserts and through blazing heat and snow, were in good spirits at OR Tambo international airport on Tuesday.

Toyota crewmen Giniel de Villiers, the 2009 champion who finished third, and the all-SA pairing of Duncan Vos and Robert Howie who were 11th in the cars category, were delighted with their performance.

De Villiers said: "When Glyn [Hall, team manager] approached me at the beginning and asked me what I thought we could achieve I just told him to make sure all the nuts and bolts were in place.

"If he and the technical team could do that, I thought we could finish in the top five, even the top three, and we did."


The team came through arrivals to be greeted by a rousing reception from a few hundred people, most waving flags. Two large banners greeted them, one reading "Congratulations", the other "Welcome Home Boys".

SECOND HILUX SUCCESS: Giniel de Villiars' team mate Duncan Vos also did well in the Dakar Rally. image: AFP

At a packed media conference just after their arrival, also attended by their families and friends, the team sat behind De Villiers' bronze trophy and Vos shared his initial concerns about the 8400km trek from Mar del Plata, Argentina, to Lima, Peru.

"After the first day Glyn said to me, 'listen, I can walk faster than you drive'," Vos said. He shared a Hilux with co-pilot Howie.

"That was a big wake-up call. The race was a huge learning curve for us and we're in a great position to take advantage of that in future."


Hall said Vos had needed only a few days to develop the necessary confidence, making brief forays into the top 10 in the latter stages of the race. "I put so much pressure on him," Hall said.

"He needed new tyres but I told him he couldn't have them until he was in the top 10.

"Once he had achieved that," Hall added, beaming as he turned to Vos, "I was nice to you then."

Having prepared by racing according to technical rules that will come into effect only in 2013, De Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, believe they could do even better in 2013.

"If we have the same commitment and performance from the team, and the technical team, I don't see why we can't challenge to win next year."

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