Fightback by the dozen, part one – third place on day two for #302
San Rafael, 06 January 2014 Mission accomplished on one stage – a further eleven remain: Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz clocked the third fastest time of the day in their Imperial Toyota Hilux to work their way up the overall classification at the Rally Dakar. After a dodgy start yesterday, when they lost just short of 16 minutes due to a faulty gasket on the power assisted steering, the South African/German duo climbed from 27th to sixth place overall on the section between San Luis and San Rafael. The Hilux pickup, which is prepared and run by Hallspeed for Imperial Toyota in South Africa, ran like clockwork on the fastest stage of this year’s Rally Dakar. The crowd favourite recorded an average speed of 109.3 km/h over the 433 kilometres of special stage – and that despite having to cross demanding dunes. The stage victory went to hot favourite Stéphane Peterhansel in his MINI – the only member of the MINI armada to defeat #302 on day two.
Steep and overgrown – the grey dunes of Nihuil are already a “Dakar” legend. They formed the 65-kilometre finale to stage two of the 2014 race on the way to San Rafael. The day’s route took the competitors round the 3,810-metre high Nevado and the 3,838-metre Payún – including sections on clayey, rocky ground at over 2,000 metres above sea level – before they headed into the dunes. The vegetation, which resembles camel grass, makes the sandy mountains particularly steep, despite their soft grey sand. As such, they posed a genuine challenge for all the competitors.
“We are back in business! We had a perfect stage today, made no mistakes, and so were able to make up a bit of ground. It was the perfect response to yesterday’s difficult day. The dunes of Nihuil were particularly soft this time, and extremely difficult to drive. On top of that, the temperatures in the cockpit were extremely high. As such, the first two days were really testing for us. The gap at the top today shows the extent to which the diesels are dominant – we could not have done anything better. Despite this, we never give up and will try to make up more ground tomorrow.”
Giniel de Villiers after stage 02
“We had to replace the steering again on the way to the stage. However, our team deserves huge praise: it got the Hilux back in perfect working order, and everything ran smoothly on today’s stage. Giniel did an outstanding job today. He drove incredibly well and was always fully in control in the dunes. I personally did not have any problems at all with the navigation. Let’s hope we continue in this vein over the coming days. It could be a bit cooler in the cockpit for me though …”
Dirk von Zitzewitz after stage 02
Results: Dakar Rally overall classification after leg 02
01. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F), Mini, 6h 17m 02s
02. Carlos Sainz/Timo Gottschalk (E/D), SMG, 6h 17m 30s
03. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Lucas Cruz (Q/E), Mini, 6h 21m 12s
04. Joan Roma/Michel Périn (E/F), Mini, 6h 21m 21s
05. Orlando Terranova/Paulo Fiuza (RA/P), Mini, 6h 25m 33s
06. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Imperial Toyota, 6h 34m 12s
07. Christian Lavielle/Jean-Pierre Garcin (F/F), Haval, 6h 38m 01s
08. Krzysztof Hołowczyz/Konstantin Zhiltsov (PL/RUS), Mini, 6h 54m 10s
Coming up: Stage 03 preview
San Rafael–San Juan (liaison: 292 km, special stage: 301 km, liaison: 3 km)
The competitors might experience the odd bout of déjà-vu on day three of the “Dakar”. This stage will feature some sections that were also visited on the 2010 and 2012 rallies. Narrow routes at over 3,000 metres above sea level, with many rocks, bushes and washed out roads – not to mention the ubiquitous dust encountered throughout the opening days of the “Dakar” – make life less than comfortable for both the driver and his co-driver. The second half of the stage is dominated by descents into valleys. The cars pick up speed for a while, until suddenly faced with more tight hairpins. The rocky river beds that lead to San Juan and must be taken at high speed form a thrilling finale.
Three-O-One, in the driving seat: Giniel de Villiers
If awards were given out for versatility in motorsport, Giniel de Villiers would be a hot favourite to pick up the special prize for lifetime achievement. The likeable, down-to-earth racing driver from Stellenbosch in South Africa won five national touring car titles in South Africa, defeating his subsequent Team Principal in the Volkswagen works team Kris Nissen and other top European stars on the way, before switching to marathon rallying. Giniel de Villiers describes himself as an “outdoorsy person”, who loves being in the fresh air. Whether on a jet ski or a mountain bike, de Villiers is always looking for action. However, in both his sporting and private lives, intelligent discretion is one of the real hallmarks of “Ginny”. As such, his second career away from tarmacked roads and permanent racetracks has also been a distinguished one: together with his co-driver at the time, Tina Thörner (S), he finished second at the 2006 Rally Dakar with Volkswagen – a milestone, as this was at the time the highest place ever achieved by a pair in a diesel-powered vehicle. His big breakthrough came when the Rally Dakar made its debut outside of the Black Continent in 2009: with co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz at his side, the pair achieved a historic success: the first victory by an African, the first in a diesel car, and the first ever win in South America.
Three-O-One, calling the shots: Dirk von Zitzewitz
Dirk von Zitzewitz has literally been at home in the navigator’s seat since he took his first breath: the German was born in precisely the spot, in which he has enjoyed his greatest sporting success – in the passenger seat. The co-driver from Ostholstein is regarded as one of the best in his profession. In 2009, he and his driver Giniel de Villiers won the first Dakar ever to be held in South America. New territory? For Dirk von Zitzewitz, the terrain away from tarmacked roads is the perfect place to demonstrate his natural, instinctive talent for finding the right way. His success and reputation are no fluke: even as a teenager, Zitzewitz used to play ‘Dakar’ with a friend and a rickety old moped. Back then, the event was still establishing itself and was yet to develop the international prestige it enjoys today. Despite this, it still cast a spell on the off-road enthusiast from north Germany. Dirk von Zitzewitz won the German Enduro Championship title on 15 occasions, before going on to compete in three Dakars on a motorbike. As a co-driver to a number of different drivers, he has competed in the mother of all desert rallies every year since 2002. In 2012 Zitzewitz came full circle: it was ten years since he made his first appearance in a car – again a privately run Toyota. In 2014 the De-Villiers-von-Zitzewitz-Toyota combination enters the third round. In the meantime, he has achieved great success: this is reflected in eleven podiums – five of which were victories – 33 stage wins and 31 days leading events in a car. As such, Dirk von Zitzewitz is already one of the most successful co-drivers of all time on the marathon rally scene.
The “Dakar” on TV
Monday, 06 January 2014
23:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 02nd leg, highlights
Tuesday, 07 January 2014
00:15 hrs Eurosport2 2014 Dakar Rally, 02nd leg, highlights
01:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 02nd leg, highlights
09:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 02nd leg, Monday highlights (re-run)
10:00 hrs Eurosport2 2014 Dakar Rally, 02nd leg, Monday highlights (re-run)
13:00 hrs Eurosport2 2014 Dakar Rally, 02nd leg, Monday highlights (re-run)
23:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 03rd leg, highlights
Wednesday, 08 January 2014
00:15 hrs Eurosport2 2014 Dakar Rally, 03rd leg, highlights
01:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 03rd leg, highlights
09:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 03rd leg, Tuesday highlights (re-run)
10:00 hrs Eurosport2 2014 Dakar Rally, 03rd leg, Tuesday highlights (re-run)
13:00 hrs Eurosport2 2014 Dakar Rally, 03rd leg, Tuesday highlights (re-run)
23:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 04th leg, highlights