The Atacama shows no mercy

10. Januar 2013

Three-O-One defends third place at the “Dakar”





Calama, 10 January 2013            


Position defended on one of the most formidable stages: Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz remain in third place after almost 3,000 of the 8,000 kilometres that form this year’s Dakar Rally. Driving a Toyota Hilux, they trailed stage winners Nasser Al-Attiyah and Lucas Cruz in a buggy by 17m 17s after one of the most challenging legs of the toughest desert rally in the world, which took the competitors through the Atacama Desert. The winners of the 2009 “Dakar” were struck by misfortune in the dunes: de Villiers and von Zitzewitz had no option but to slow down when they came across a rival car that had, unbeknown to them, got stuck behind a crest. They were then forced to spend valuable time using sand ladders, deflating the tyres and shovelling for all their worth in order to free themselves from the situation they suddenly found themselves in.

Despite being seen as rank outsiders, “Ginny” and “Schnietz”, as the two friends know each other, now find themselves just 42m 31s behind odds-on favourites Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret in the X- raid Mini in the overall classification. This in itself is a success worthy of recognition after a third of the total “Dakar” distance. Friday sees the Dakar Rally cross the border to Argentina via the picturesque Paso de Jama, with its literally breath-taking plateaus at over 4,000 metres above sea level. The route then features two special stages in Argentina’s Sierras Pampeanas before the only rest day on this year’s rally provides the competitors with brief respite in Tucumán.

Today’s special stage was played out in two acts – the sixth leg of the Dakar Rally took the drivers through the Atacama Desert between Arica and Calama. The first section of the 454-kilometre special stage started close to the town of Iquique, which has itself often been used as a stage finish on the “Dakar”. It ended after crossing the Río Loa – the only river that flows through the Atacama Desert without running dry on the way to the Pacific. After a 96-kilometre connection, the competitors were faced with another 129 kilometres against the clock and a climb of about 1,000 metres to just short of 3,000 metres above sea level.

The quotes

“We were actually going along nicely, but unfortunately we got stuck in the sand when we had to lift off the gas on the crest of a dune. Just behind the crest was ‘Nani’ Roma, who had got stuck there. Had we been warned – there was already an official there, after all – we would easily have avoided the situation. When we filled the tyres back up with air we also changed a wheel, as the tyre probably slipped off the rim when we let the air out. That cost more time. We are very happy with the time we spent actually driving. The time spent immobilised was just bad luck.”

Giniel de Villiers after leg 06

“A very demanding stage, particularly in the dunes. Unfortunately we had to get the shovels out once today. This was not really because we made a mistake, but because we had to slow down to avoid a rival. By the time we had slowed down it was too late. Apart from that, we ate a lot of dust today and it was not easy to overtake the bikes with that visibility. A huge compliment goes to our team, who worked into the night to improve the brake problems we encountered yesterday. Thank you, guys.”

Dirk von Zitzewitz after leg 06


Results: Dakar Rally overall classification after leg 06

  • 01. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F), Mini, 14:36.16 Std.
  • 02. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Lucas Cruz (Q/E), Buggy, 14:37.34 Std.
  • 03. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Toyota, 15:18.47 Std.
  • 04. Leonid Novitzkiy/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS/RUS), Mini, 15:21.03 Std.


Coming up: Preview Stage 07


Calama–Salta  (connection: 417 km, special stage: 218 km, connection: 116 km)

Faster, higher, further: the highest and fastest special stage of the whole rally awaits the Dakar competitors on Friday. Almost the entire route of the “special” is at more than 3,400 metres above sea level. “The organisers estimated the average speed at over 110 km/h. That is really quick,” says Giniel de Villiers. Dirk von Zitzewitz adds: “A hard surface, long straights and only a few corners await us. Despite this, you cannot underestimate the importance of good navigation. All in all, however, it is really a stage on which to grab a breather. I can only recommend that you watch the highlights of the day on television, as I reckon this stage will produce some great footage of the landscape – particularly the Andes.”


Three-O-One, in the driving seat: Giniel de Villiers

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

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 2013 the De-Villiers- von-Zitzewitz-Toyota combination enters the next round. In the meantime, he has achieved great success: this is reflected in ten 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.

“Dakar” on TV

Wednesday, 09 January 2013

23:34 hrs Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 05, summary

Thursday, 10 January 2013

00:55 hrs Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 05, summary (re-run)
08:30 hrs Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 05, summary (re-run)
19:45 hrs Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 06, interviews at the finish line (live)

Friday, 11 January 2013

00:00 hrs Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 06, summary (re-run)
01:00 hrs Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 06, summary (re-run)
08:30 hrs Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 06, summary (re-run)
19:30 hrs Eurosport2 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 07, interviews at the finish line (live) 23:15 hrs Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 07, summary


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