'Mighty' job on Dakar by Giniel
DAKAR PODIUM FOR SA CHAMP: South Africa's Giniel de Villier's (right) and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz pose after earning second place overall in the 2013 Dakar Rally.
Author: PETER BURROUGHES
JOHANNESBURG South Africa's Giniel de Villiers secured his fourth Dakar podium finish when he took second overall after Stage 13 of the 2013 event in Chile in January 2013.
Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, in a South African-built Toyota Hilux, finished the stage fourth in the cars division.
While they closed the gap on French pair Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret by another couple of minutes, they still finished the race 42min22 behind the defending champion.
Villiers and Zitzewitz, who won the T1.1 class for the second year in succession, were 46min clear of third-placed Russians Leonid Novitskiy and Konstantin Zhiltsov in the overall standings.
TWO PREVIOUS PODIUMS
Toyota team principal Glyn Hall said: "This was a mighty performance by Giniel and our honorary South African, Dirk, and also by every single member of our technical and support crew whose dedication and commitment contributed hugely to this proud achievement.
"I'm privileged to be manager of this fine team."
Villiers, who finished outside the top 10 in only one stage moved into second overall after Sunday's rest day and held his place for the last six legs of the gruelling race. He won the event in 2009, finished second in 2011 and third in 2012.
Meanwhile, Sarel van Biljon, the only South African to win a stage of this year's race, in the Quads division, bagged his third stage victory on the final leg to finish 21st overall.
Having struggled on Stage 9, Biljon lost his podium place and tumbled down the standings, soldiering on in the second half of the event and eventually finishing more than 15 hours behind Argentinean winner Marcos Patronelli.
In the Bikes section, won by Frenchman Cyril Despres, Riaan van Niekerk was the best of the South Africans, taking 13th overall after completing the final stage in 22nd position. Niekerk moved into the top 20 on Stage 4 and finished strongly. Darryl Curtis, on the other hand, had a fantastic start, lying seventh overall after two stages, but he struggled later and slipped back. Curtis was a lowly 60th in the final stage and finished 32nd position overall.
Brett Cummings, who had a disastrous start, lying outside the top 100 after the first stage, fought back in the second half of the event. While he played catch-up for most of the race, Cummings did well to finish 43rd in the standings after crossing the line in 28th place in the final stage.