It felt like yesterday when the gruelling Dakar 2013 kicked off. In fact, the 34th running of the classic event (and fifth time in South America) started on January 5 from Lima, Peru and ended on Saturday in Santiago, Chile. Two weeks later, after crossing three countries and thousands of kilometres in truly rough terrain, South African Toyota Imperial Team’s Hilux 4×4 stormed across the finish line to claim an overall second place finish! More after the break.
The South African-built Toyota Hilux piloted by 2009 Dakar champions, Giniel de Villiers (South African) and Dirk von Zitzewitz (German, although regarded by the team as an honorary South African), finished just 42 minutes behind defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jeal Paul Cottret. Toyota Imperial Team picks up a second successive podium after coming third last year in the team’s first attempt at the world’s longest and toughest race.
Some 440+ competitors crossed Peru, Argentina and Chile in 14 special stages covering more than 4,000 kilometres and twice crossing the Andes Mountains at an awe-inspiring altitude of over 4,000 metres. Three other Toyota Hilux placed 10th, 11th and 15th respectively. Belgium-based Overdrive Racing managed a number of the top placed Toyota Hilux privateer teams, one of which rounded off the top 20.
Toyota Imperial Team principal, Glyn Hall, said: “This is a great result for Toyota Motorsport and the all-South African Toyota Imperial Team. It was achieved without any significant mechanical problems and it is testimony to the legendary toughness and reliability of South Africa’s best-selling bakkie [South African term for pick-up trucks].”
Giniel and Dirk are also wrote their names in the history books of Dakar having achieved four top-four positions in the five rallies held in South America since 2009, an unparalleled achievement in rallying history. Giniel, 40, from Stellenbosch in South Africa, and Dirk, 44, from Karlshof in Germany, have contested six Dakar races together since 2007 and enjoy a finishing record unequalled by anyone: 11th in 2007, first in 2009, seventh in 2010, second in 2011, third in 2012 and second in 2013. They have always made it to the finish.
Giniel commented after the race: “It was a difficult race, as usual. The Dakar is never easy. Second place, that counts as a victory for us. Last year, we exceeded our expectations by far, and this year, who would have believed we would better our third place then. Our reliability enabled us to not only beat the Dakar, but also made the decisive difference.”
Watch the 2013 Dakar Rally highlights via Motorsport TV:
* Provisional results are subject to final confirmation