Giniel: 'It's not over yet'

2013-01-18 08:13

COPIAPO, Chile - It was a good day in Chile for the five South African-built Toyota Hilux 4x4s at the 2013 Dakar on January 18.
After a second crossing of the Andes Mountains and the heat of the Atacama Desert, all Toyotas safely reached the overnight bivouac.


A third place finish on the 319km special stage between Fiambala and Copiapo saw South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz close to within 50 minutes of the overall leaders, defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret(Mini).

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Mini’s Nani Roma and co-driver Michel Perin took the stage win ahead of Americans Robbie Gordon and Kellon Walch (Hummer), with De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz just seven seconds behind 1min38 in front of fourth-placed Peterhansel and Perin. 

Roma and Perin move up to third overall and are 40min45 behind De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz.


Significant for the South African/German duo in there Toyota Hilux #301 was the fact that the Russian pairing of Leonid Novitskiy and Konstantin Zhiltsov (Mini), who started the day’s stage 16min behind them in the general classification, only managed to finish ninth and have now dropped to fourth overall behind Roma and Perin.

Behind the De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz in the general classification with only two special stages remaining before the finish in Santiago, Chile, the four customer Hilux bakkies all improved their overall positions and are now 9th, 11th, 12th and 13th in the general classification.


De Villiers said: “We just wanted to have a clean stage, but for sure, today's stage was a lot tougher than I expected it to be.
“With a long liaison this morning at high altitude, that makes you really tired as well and then you have to do a tough stage like today.  It needed a lot of concentration.  There were quite long dune crossings and really tricky places in the dunes.

 “We lost about thirty seconds at one of the way points in the dunes. We couldn't make it up to that one, so we had to turn around and sort of go around, because at that point I was quite close to Lucio (Alvarez) and I saw he put a gap between us again. It's not over yet,” he said.

Von Zitzewitz said: “We’ve studied the route very carefully each night and been well prepared for each stage.  Our preparations certainly paid off today. On Friday we face another tough test, which could be even tougher than today’s.
”Celebrations would be premature today, too much hinges on the 13th stage. But we are ready.”

The penultimate special stage between Copiapo and La Serena in Chile will see drivers overcome a local meteorological phenomenon, called Camanchaca.  This stubborn fog will be very dense during the first part of the stage and only once it has lifted will the rally will get underway. 

Competitors will tackle the final  dunes of the 34th edition of the Dakar.  The sandy part represents a third of the 441km special stage. For the rest it is a trip south on wide tracks with lots of stones before they reach the last bivouac of the rally. 
Follow the 2013 Dakar rally with Wheels24 on our Dakar section.