Giniel and the stroke of genius – #302 runner-up on day five of “Dakar”
Tucumán, 09 January 2014 Mad, madder, “Dakar” – the favourites stumble, while #302 enjoys a moment of glory. And “Project Podium” is back on track. Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz narrowly missed out on their first stage win at the Rally Dakar since switching to the Toyota Hilux “made in South Africa”. They came up just four minutes and 20 seconds short of taking top honours on a day, on which the favourites suffered some serious set-backs. A series of dramatic events unfolded shortly before the first of two timed sections on the route from Chilecito to Tucumán. Whilst one was stuck in the dunes, others were making one navigational mistake after the next – both driver and co-driver had to be wide awake today. Perfect conditions for #302.
“GdV” and “DvZ” were among the fastest pairs to come through a tricky navigational situation, in which all the top duos struggled to find the right way. Although they lost time due to two punctures in the opening section and a brake problem in the final 50 kilometres, de Villiers/von Zitzewitz climbed one position in the overall rankings. They are now fifth after five special stages, less than ten minutes behind the third-placed car. As such, “GdV” and “DvZ” are still within striking distance of the podium. And yet the prospects did not look great prior to the start of the fifth special stage – minor technical problems with the hydraulic systems had seen #302 drop well back on the first four days.
Thursday’s fifth stage first led the competitors through virgin “Dakar” territory. The field tackled the short, very soft dunes in the opening section according to plan. A 14-kilometre stretch of dunes and further off-road sections made the task of navigating tricky for the drivers and co-drivers. Camel grass, yet more soft, sandy ground and the many river beds to be negotiated posed genuine challenges for the teams over the second part of the leg. As in 2013, the stage around Tucumán had to be reduced to 428 kilometres.
“An intense day. We had two flat tyres that we had to change in the first section today, and lost time as a result. However, Dirk produced a real stroke of genius today and got us through the tricky section, in which everyone was looking for the right route, as fast as anyone. We could have made up even more time and probably won the stage if we had not had a brake problem towards the end. Our brakes were only working at about ten per cent for the last 50 kilometres. That is not particularly sexy when you’re driving off-road. All in all, however, it was a good day for us.”
Giniel de Villiers after stage 05
“This ‘Dakar’ has been the most eventful for a long time. When you consider what we had to battle with, and then look at the result, it brings about mixed feelings. The good thing is that we are back in a position, from which we can challenge for a place on the podium. Unfortunately we have repeatedly had to overcome minor technical problems – that does not feel so great. However, we have still significantly reduced the gap to the opposition, because Giniel was simply brilliant today. I also contributed a little to today’s success, quickly finding a way out of a tricky navigational situation, in which all the top teams failed to find a waypoint. Only Michel Périn did a better job of getting ‘Nani’ Roma out of there. I am proud to say that both Giniel and I produced a very good display today.”
Dirk von Zitzewitz after stage 05
Results: Dakar Rally overall classification after leg 05
01. Joan Roma/Michel Périn (E/F), Mini, 19h 21m 54s
02. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Lucas Cruz (Q/E), Mini, 19h 48m 22s
03. Orlando Terranova/Paulo Fiuza (RA/P), Mini, 19h 53m 40s
04. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F), Mini, 20h 01m 53s
05. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Imperial Toyota, 20h 03m 18s
06. Carlos Sainz/Timo Gottschalk (E/D), SMG, 20h 21m 37s
Coming up: Stage 06 preview
Tucumán–Salta (special stage: 424, liaison: 270 km)
“Business before pleasure” is the motto of the sixth stage. The teams must work flat-out again before they can enjoy their rest day. Starting from Tucamán, the field heads north, crossing some of the most attractive scenery in Argentina on Ruta 40. However, while the stunning landscape may invite tourists to pause and enjoy the view, it means hard work for the drivers. Many changes in speed, narrow routes, an endless supply of bushes and shrubs, and countless rocks – by the time the crews complete Friday’s 624 kilometres, they will have earned a brief respite. “GdV” and “DvZ” will fancy their chances with the Imperial Toyota Hilux.
#302, 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.
#302, 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
Thursday, 09 January 2014
23:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 05th leg, highlights
Friday, 10 January 2014
00:15 hrs Eurosport2 2014 Dakar Rally, 05th leg, highlights
01:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 05th leg, highlights
09:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 05th leg, Thursday highlights (re-run)
10:00 hrs Eurosport2 2014 Dakar Rally, 05th leg, Thursday highlights (re-run)
13:00 hrs Eurosport2 2014 Dakar Rally, 05th leg, Thursday highlights (re-run)
23:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 06th leg, highlights
Saturday, 11 January 2014
00:15 hrs Eurosport2 2014 Dakar Rally, 06th leg, highlights
01:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 06th leg, highlights
10:00 hrs Eurosport2 2014 Dakar Rally, 06th leg, Friday highlights (re-run)
23:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, rest day