Hero's welcome for Giniel
SA'S DAKAR CHAMPION RETURNS HOME: Giniel de Villiers (right) poses with co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz as the SA Toyota Dakar team returns home.
JOHANNESBURG - The Toyota South Africa team returned home from South America to and were met at OR Tambo International Airport by a sea of excited Toyota-red clad supporters.
On hand to congratulate the team was Johan van Zyl, president and CEO of Toyota SA: “We’re extremely proud of you and your outstanding achievement,” he told them. “To each and every one of you, our thanks for a magnificent team effort.”
RECORD RESULT FOR TOYOTA
Singling out the driver, Giniel de Villiers and co-driver, Dirk von Zitzewitz, of Toyota Hilux #301, van Zyl said they were living up to Toyota’s philosophy of respect for people and continuous improvement.
He said: “You finished third in 2012 and now you’ve finished second this year. Next year I expect you to come first.”
Team manager and boss of Kyalami-based Toyota Motorsport Glyn Hall, said it had been a privilege to be able to contest the Dakar for a second year with Toyota.
He said the the overwhelming support from Toyota and from all South Africans had played a big role in the team’s success.
Hall said: “We not only came second overall, but we also won our class (T1.1 petrol-engined 4x4 vehicles) and achieved the highest position Toyota has ever enjoyed in this race.
“The respect for the Dakar around the world is massive and our achievements in this, the world’s longest and toughest motor race, have not gone unnoticed.
“Giniel and Dirk’s Hilux completed the 8500km from Lima in Peru to Santiago in Chile with just a minor brake problem. Otherwise it was mechanically trouble-free and not one body panel was damaged.”
'IT ALL PAID OFF'
De Villiers said it had been a tougher race than the 2012 edition, with two crossings of the Andes Mountains at high altitude, extreme temperatures and dangerous river crossings.
De Villiers, who won the Dakar Rally with Von Zitzewitz in 2009, said: “I’m very proud of our achievement. All the meticulous preparation and hard work by Glyn and his team, including building a brand new Hilux for us for this year’s race, paid off.
“This result is history now and it’s time to move forward. We must aim to do better next year. We have the team and we have the backing of Toyota and our other sponsors for the next two years. With a little more development of the racing Hilux and a bit of luck – winning the Dakar always requires some good luck - I think we can do it.”