Dakar: Cornel de Villiers Quad class final report

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Cornel de Villiers won Quad Class at 2004 Dakar Ten quad riders entered and started the 2004 Telefónica Dakar 18 days ago in France - only one made it to Dakar in Africa to win his first ever Dakar Rally: Cornel de Villiers, the 1998,...

Cornel de Villiers won Quad Class at 2004 Dakar

Ten quad riders entered and started the 2004 Telefónica Dakar 18 days ago in France - only one made it to Dakar in Africa to win his first ever Dakar Rally: Cornel de Villiers, the 1998, 2001 and 2002 SA National Off-road Champion.

After more than 10 000km (two stages were cancelled because of security reasons) and 96h 46min 48sec on his Platinum Asset Management Bombardier quad, De Villiers took the laurels and the winner's trophy in the Experimental Class at Dakar, Senegal. It was a well-deserved victory for the multiple off-road quad champion who spend lots of lonely hours on the big quad and many hours in the dark desert.

De Villiers, who started this 26th Dakar Rally with his teammate, Johan Steenkamp, took the overall lead in the Experimental Class for Quads already when the competitors put foot in Africa, but after that it was not an easy race for the young entrepreneur from Pretoria. Steenkamp crashed during stage seven and since then De Villiers was on his own. And because the quad riders are slower than the front motorcycle riders are, he ended up still racing while the sun has already set. During one special stage, he spent more than 20 hours on his quad and after he started the stage at 08h00 in the morning, he only got to the finish at 04h00 in the morning! During one rocky special stage, he had to fix the damaged tyres on his quad about a 100 times - there's not too much space on a quad to carry more tyres with while racing.

Although with sponsorship from Platinum Asset Management, Quad SA, DHL, Nikon, Swiss Air and Moto-Trix and support from Waterworld SA, De Villiers was a privateer entrant and had no mechanical back up. This meant that, when he reached the finish after hours on his quad, he had to prepare his quad by himself for the next day. Luckily the Dakar motorcycle veteran, Alfie Cox, was there to assist with advice and support.

De Villiers said earlier this week that it was still quite unreal to him to be participating in the Dakar. "Every morning when I wake up, I can still not believe it. My dream is really coming true," he said at the rest day while preparing his Bombardier for the second half of the Dakar. But all the hard work, months of preparation and 18 days of hard work in Europe, Marocco, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal during the 2004 Telefónica Dakar paid off and De Villiers' name will be put down in the Dakar record books after he was victorious in the Experimental Class after one of the toughest Dakar Rallies ever.

-dt+komm-

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