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Giniel 4th: Triumph in the dunes

2014-01-16 11:27


HEADED FOR THE ATACAMA: SA's Giniel de Villiers moved up to fourth overall in the 2014 Dakar Rally. Stage 11 sees competitors take on the sand dunes of the Atacama desert.Image: AFP

ANTOFAGASTA, Chile – Toyota’s Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz proved they have the only petrol-engined 4x4 to take the fight to the turbodiesel Minis that have set the pace in the 2014 Dakar Rally in South America.

The Toyota pair finished Stage 10, a 231km stretch from Iquique and Antofagasta, Chile in fourth and subsequently moved into fourth place overall.


SA-built Toyota Hilux 4x4’s fill the top three places in the four-wheel drive petrol class; De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz are first ahead of two Team Overdrive entries, Marek Dabrowski/Jacek Czachor who are second in class and seventh overall and Adam Malysz/Rafal Marton who are third in class and ninth overall.

Qatar’s Nasser al-Attiyah and co-driver Lucas Cruz (Mini) won the stage by 3min50 seconds ahead of team mates and defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret. Mini’s Nani Roma and Michel Perin finished third, 14min30 ahead of the Toyota pair.

Roma/Perin still lead the overall standings but second-placed Peterhansel/Cottret have reduced the gap from 12min10 to 2min15. al-Attiyah and Cruz are third but 46min01 behind and 26min15 ahead of De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz. 

Orlando Terranova and Paulo Piuza (Mini), who were third overall on Stage 9 ahead of De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz, dropped 5min33 and are fifth overall though 20sec behind.

De Villiers said: “We got stuck on a sand dune and stalled the engine. It was a stupid mistake and cost us around six minutes. Amazingly, nobody passed us. We knew we had made up good time on Terranova, who was ahead of us in the general classification yesterday.


“We were also slowed by a flat tyre – it came off the rim – and lost some more time when I battled to get up a sand dune. We finally managed after deflating the tyres. We completed the last 50km at half-throttle with low fuel pressure but, all in all, we’re happy with the result and the fact that we live to fight another day.”       

Toyota team mates Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie were delayed for several hours after suffering mechanical issues 130km from the end of the stage. The pair were having a great run and were 19th on the stage after starting 33rd.

Poulter/Howie had to wait for the T4 assistance truck, which was only expected to reach them at 10pm that night.

Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr, the South African privateers competing in their first Dakar,  delivered another great performance, finishing 21st on the stage and are 22nd overall.

Toyota Land Cruisers occupy the first two places in the T2.1 class. Jun Mitsuashi and Alain Guehennic lead the class and are 21st overall. Team mates Nicolas Gibon and Akira Miura are second and 26th overall. 


Teruhito Sugawara, competing in his 33rd Dakar at the age of 72 (the oldest competitor) and Hiroyuki Sugiura (Hino) are 14th overall in the truck category and 14th in class T4.2.   
The rally continues to make its way south along the west coast of Chile with Stage 11 (Antofagasta to El Salvador) dominated by a tough crossing of the Atacama desert, the driest in the world.

Following a route comprising of  mine tracks and river crossings in the first part of the 605km special stage, competitor will head into the heart of the dunes of Copiapo. Competitors will spend more than six-and-a-half hours in their vehicles.
The cars will start the opening 144km liaison section at 12:01pm (SA local time) and the first car is due at the finish of the special stage at the bivouac at 9:30pm.

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