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Dakar 2014: Toyota SA makes its mark

2014-01-22 09:23


IN FOURTH OVERALL: Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz claimed fourth overall in the 2014 Dakar Rally in a SA-built Toyota Hilux. Image: TOYOTA

The 9500km haul through Argentina and Chile was the longest, highest and toughest Dakar yet. Among the survivors were Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in their proudly South African Toyota Hilux.

It was the longest, highest and toughest Dakar Rally since the iconic event moved from politically troubled North Africa to South America in 2009.

Only 204 vehicles (78 out of 184 motorcycles, 15 of 42 quads, 61 of 154 cars and 50 of 70 trucks) out of the 450 that started the race in Rosario in Argentina on January 5 made it to the finish.


The 9500km haul through Argentina and Chile took two weeks and included 5000km of racing sections split over 13 stages.

Among the survivors were both of the proudly South African Toyota Imperial Team’s Hilux 4x4 bakkie.

Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz finished fourth overall and first in the T1.1 class for petrol-powered 4x4s. De Villiers was the only driver to take the fight to the Minis all the way to the finish at the Chilean port city of Valparaiso, winning the last stage on his way to his seventh top five finish in 10 Dakars.

Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie were 33rd overall and 13th in class. Four SA-built Hilux 4x4s finished in the top 25.
Belgian Overdrive team, who ran vehicles built by Toyota SA or assembled from kits supplied by Toyota Motorsport’s Glyn Hall, placed seventh and 13th (second and third in class) with Marek Dabrowski/Jacek Czachor and Adam Malysz/Rafal Marton and 17th (fifth in class) with Aidyn Rakhimbayev/Vladimir Demyanenko.

South African privateers Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr, competing in their first Dakar Rally, using the Hilux De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz finished second in the 2013 Dakar, were 25th overall and eighth in class.

Toyota also took the honours in the T2 class for production vehicles. The Land Cruisers of Japanese/French duo Jun Mitsuhashi and Alain Guehennic and team mates Nicolas Gibon and Akira Miura finished 20th and 21st overall and were first and second in class.
It was Mitsuhashi’s third class win.

Teruhito Sugawara, competing in his 33rd Dakar at the age of 72 (he was the oldest competitor), and Hiroyuki Sugiura (Hino) along with Sugawara’s son Yoshimasa/Katsumi Hamura (Hino) were 12th and 31st overall respectively in the truck category and in class T4.2.

Toyota Motorsport SA technician Albert Geel was a crew member in the T4 rapid assistance truck that won its class and provided technical backup along the route to the two Toyota Imperial Hilux 4x4s.


Team manager Glyn Hall paid special tribute to his engineers and technicians: “You have true South African spirit and strength, like a Springbok rugby team.”

“The Hilux was so much quicker than last year and we had high hopes. We compete to win, so it was difficult not being able to match the Minis. It was very evident that that we were pushing our cars the hardest.

“There is a disparity in the performance of the cars that is a real issue and it is going to be addressed. The current rules that result in the Hilux having the smallest (tightest) restrictor of the top contenders were in place for the past two years and now they are to be reviewed.

"We just have to ensure we get the balance of power right."

Giniel de Villiers said: “We had high expectations. The new Hilux was the best we’ve ever had, but the race conditions, with much of the route run at high altitude, did not suit our petrol-powered engine with the small air restrictor imposed by the organisers.

"The diesel-powered Minis with their bigger restrictors enjoyed a considerable advantage at altitude and also in the sand dunes. We were able to compete with them on an equal footing in the rally-type conditions. Winning our first stage in the Hilux was a special moment.”

Leeroy Poulter, competing in his first Dakar, impressed with his pace, he led the rally for most of the opening stage and scored his first podium finish on stage three and proved to be a driver to watch in the future.


Poulter said: “We had such a good start I wondered why everyone had told me it was such a big race. Then we came to earth with a bump when we broke our rear dampers on stage four. We had to wait four hours for the assistance truck and it was a difficult race from then on.

"We’ve learned a great deal this time and I’m looking forward to coming back again and putting this experience to good use.”

Dakar Rally provisional overall classification:
1 Nani Roma/Michel Périn (ESP/FRA), Mini, 50hr44min58
2 Stephane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), Mini, +5min38
3 Nasser Al-Attiyah and Lucas Cruz (QAT/ESP), Mini, +56:52
4 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZAF/DEU), Toyota Hilux, +1hr10min07
5 Orlando Terranova/Paulo Fiuza (ARG/PRT), Mini, +1hr27min44
6 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Konstantin Zhiltsov (POL), Mini, +3hr55min42
7 Marek Dabrowski/Jacek Czachor (POL), Toyota Hilux, +5hr34min25   
8 Christian Lavieille/Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA), GWM Haval, +5hr35min50
9 Martin Kaczmarski/Filipe Palmeiro (POL), Mini, +6hr58min12
10 Vladimir Vasilyev/Vitaliy Yevtyekhov (RUS), Mini, +6hr59min34
13 Adam Malysz/Rafal Marton (POL), Toyota Hilux
17 Aidyn Rakhimbayev/Vladimir Demyanenko (KAZ), Toyota Hilux 
25 Thomas Rundle/Juan Mohr (ZAF), Toyota Hilux 
33 Leeroy Poulter/Rob Howie (ZAF), Toyota Hilux


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