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Five champs to take on Dakar 2014

2013-12-02 10:55

GEARING UP FOR DAKAR 2014: South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers will once again take on the arduous Dakar Rally from Argentina to Chile. Image: MOTORPRESS

ROSARIO, Argentina - The 2014 Dakar Rally in South America and the release of the entry list confirms that the Toyota SA team of Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz and Leeroy Poulter/Rob Howie are in the company of the world’s top rally teams as they take the world's toughest off-road race.

There are five former champions at the top of the start order, including Villiers and Zitzewitz, who won the first South American version of the Dakar in 2009 and will carry #302 on their Toyota Hilux. They finished second in the 2013 Dakar and third in 2012.


Leading the field from Rosario on January 5 2014 will be defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret in a Mini (#300). Peterhansel has won the Dakar 11 times, six on a motorcycle and five in a car.

Second on the grid will be Nasser al-Attiyah and co-driver Lucas Cruz, winners in 2011, in another Mini (#301).

Villiers, competing in his 11th Dakar, will start third ahead of 2010 winner Carlos Sainz and co-driver Timo Gottschalk in a an US-built buggy (#303). Nani Roma, winner of the 2004 bike category, and co-driver Michel Perrin will start fifth in a Mini (#304).

Poulter and Howie will start 23rd in the second Toyota Hilux (#323).

South African privateers Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr, who earned a free entry into the rally when they won the Dakar Challenge at the 2013 Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana, will start 103rd in their first Dakar. The pair will race the Toyota Motorsport Hilux (#404) in which Villiers/Zitzewitz finished second in 2013.


The 450 competitors representing 50 nationalities in cars and trucks and on motorcycles and quads will take on a 9500km route through Argentina, Bolivia (bikes and quads only) and Chile. The route has 13 special stages totalling 5000km.

The opening stage on January 5 2014, from Rosario to San Luis, is only 180km  after a long liaison section of 629km. The stages will become progressively longer until Day 4 on January 8 when the car and truck competitors will encounter the longest stage the Dakar has presented since 2005 in Africa - 657km of sand from San Juan to Chilecito in Argentina.

Competitors will have a rest day on January 11 in Salta, Argentina.

The rally will then cross the the Andes Mountains through the highest pass in Argentina at an altitude of more than 4.9km and into Chile on January 13 for Stage 8  Salta-Calama.

There will be two more 600km stages consecutively (10 and 11) in Chile on January 15 and 16, with the latter taking competitors from Antofagusta to El Salvador via the Atacama Desert and the dunes of Copiapo.

The rally will end with the shortest stage, of 157km from La Serena to Valparaiso, the port city known as the Pearl of the Pacific, compromising of 44 hills overlooking the ocean.

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