Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz, driving a South African-built Toyota Hilux 4x4 for the Toyota Imperial Team, were second overall in the Dakar Rally which ended in Santiago, Chile on Saturday afternoon.
After 14 special stages in Peru, Argentina and Chile covering more than 4 000 kilometres and two crossings of the Andes Mountains at an altitude above 4 000 metres, the 2009 Dakar champions finished 42 minutes behind defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret of France in a Mini.
Third overall in the general classification for cars were Russians Leonid Novitskiy and Konstantin Zhiltsov in another Mini, 46 minutes behind De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz.
Three other Toyota Hilux 4x4s built by Kyalami-based Hallspeed for Toyota Motorsport were among the 92 finishers out of the 153 cars that started the rally in Lima, Peru, on January 5.
Alvarez and Graue were classified 10th, the Australian/British duo of Geoffrey Olholm and Jonathan Aston were 11th and Poland’s Adam Malysz and Rafal Marton were 15th.
“This is a great result for Toyota Motorsport and then all-South African Toyota Imperial Team,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “It was achieved without any significant mechanical problem and it is testimony to the legendary toughness and reliability of South Africa’s best-selling bakkie.
“This was a mighty performance by Giniel and our honorary South African, Dirk, and also by every single member of our technical and support crew, whose dedication and commitment contributed massively to this proud achievement. I am privileged to be manager of this fine team.”
These results are subject to confirmation. A formal ceremonial podium ceremony will take place on Sunday in front of Santiago’s Palacio de la Moneda, where the South African flag will fly proudly.