DE VILLIERS AND VON ZITZEWITZ THIRD ON STAGE TWO OF DAKAR RALLY AND SIXTH OVERALL
On a day that saw the Dakar Rally start to show its teeth and several of the top contenders run into trouble Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz showed why they are regarded as one of the top crews in world cross country racing.
After losing time on Sunday’s opening stage and finishing 27th, they bounced back into contention on Monday’s racing section between San Luis and San Rafael in Argentina with third place and moved up to sixth place overall in their Toyota Imperial Hilux.
They completed the 433-kilometre special stage 5 min 34 sec behind winners and defending champions Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France (MINI) and 4 min 48 sec behind Spain’s Carlos Sainz and Timo Gottschalk of Germany (SMG Buggy).
Peterhansel and Cottret, winners of the last two Dakars, are the overall leaders after two of the race’s 13 special stages, 28 sec ahead of Sainz and Gottschalk and 5 min 34 sec clear of Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz (MINI). De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz winners of the 2009 Dakar, are 17 min 10 sec in arrears.
Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie brought the second Toyota Imperial Hilux home in 16th place, 44 min 34 sec behind the winners. They are now 13th overall, 46 min 10 sec behind the race’s leaders and 29 min behind their team-mates.
Giniel de Villiers: “Today’s was a proper Dakar stage: it was very, very fast in the beginning – flat out – and included our first dune crossing. The dunes were tricky and it was very hot. We’re very happy with our result. We lost a bit of time when we were caught in the dust of other competitors, otherwise we experienced no problems at all. We have to have clean runs from now on if we want to prevent Stephane getting away from the rest of the field.”
Leeroy Poulter: “Today was my first experience of racing in the sand dunes and we got stuck a couple of times. As a result we got passed by a few competitors and later, when we caught them up, we struggled in their dust. The dunes were very tricky, high and very steep on both sides. It was a long and difficult stage and I’m happy we came through it alright.”
Glyn Hall, team principal: “After the first two stages it’s clear that this is a much tougher Dakar than usual, as promised by the organisers. Today’s stage reminded me of a first day in Mauretania in Africa, which was the benchmark of toughness and a lethal cocktail of sand and high temperatures – almost 40 degrees Centigrade outside the car
“Giniel’s performance today showed why he is regarded as one of the top rally raid drivers in the world. We are all very impressed and pleased with Leeroy, who is having a super start to his first Dakar. He did really well on his first time ever in the dunes in the rally car.”
Competitors will experience their first taste of the mountains on Tuesday’s stage three from San Rafael to San Juan. The 595-kilometre route (301 kilometres of special and 295 liaison) will pass through the pre-Andes. The Aconcagua volcano stands 6 962 metres high and will observe the progress of the vehicles.
The first car leaves the San Rafael bivouac at 06:08 (10:08 SA time) and is expected to arrive at the San Juan overnight stop at 14:18 (19:18).
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Dakar Sponsors, Specialist Official Suppliers and Technical Partners
Toyota, Imperial Toyota Group, Duxbury Netgear, Innovation Group, Toyota Financial Services, SAA Cargo, Blue Sky, Bosch, Castrol, DeWalt, Donaldson, Edgecam, 4×4 Mega World, Hallspeed, Mastercraft, NGK, Oakley, SKF, Spanjaard, Sparco and TFM.