Toyota stage 13 report

Toyota South Africa Motors press release

29 kilometres to third place: Toyota on brink of Dakar coup

#301 Toyota: Giniel de Villiers and Dirk Von Zitzewitz
#301 Toyota: Giniel de Villiers and Dirk Von Zitzewitz

Photo by: Red Bull GmbH and GEPA pictures GmbH

They initially set their sights on tenth place, hardly daring to dream of achieving their ultimate goal of fifth place, but an outstanding performance and hard work means they are now looking at finishing third: Giniel de Villiers (Stellenbosch/South Africa), Dirk von Zitzewitz (Karlshof/Germany) and their Imperial Toyota team are on the brink of a huge coup at the Dakar. Driving their privately developed and prepared Hilux pick-up, 2009 Dakar winners de Villiers/von Zitzewitz clocked the second fastest time of the day on the penultimate stage of the Rally Dakar between Nasca and Pisco – their best individual stage result of the rally so far. On another exhausting stage, on which almost all the top drivers got stuck at least once, the duo defended third place and now have almost an hour advantage over opposition who were regarded as being much stronger at the start of the rally. The Hilux pair was the first to reach the final section of the special stage and also the first car to arrive at the finish. Despite this, they still had to concede defeat to one rival. Stéphane Peterhansel won today's stage to ensure that the only works team in the car category at the toughest rally in the world, the X-raid Mini team, leads the overall standings with Peterhansel followed by Joan “Nani” Roma ahead of he positive surprise of the Dakar – “Ginny” and “Schnietz” – in third place overall. The South African/German team is well ahead of Peterhansel's Mini team-mates, who also started the race as hot favourites, as well as Hummer driver Robby Gordon, who lined up with an overall package well capable of victory in 2012.

29 relatively easy kilometres of special stage now lie between de Villiers/von Zitzewitz and third place when they arrive at the podium in the Peruvian capital of Lima – a short hop in marathon rallying. Concentration is still required ahead of the short final section, however. Nobody wants to undo all the hard work of the last two weeks and put one of the best sporting performances by driver, co-driver and team at risk due to carelessness.

Nine kilometres of small but nasty dunes at the start, then a further 21 towards the end of a selective Dakar stage: day thirteen's route took the competitors from Nazca to Pisco in the direction of Bahía de Caballas on the Pacific coast, through the Gran Tablazo de Ica and between the Cerro Blanco and the Morro Quemado. The 275- kilometre special stage featured a diverse range of terrain: as well as dune crossings and sandy passages along the beach, the drivers were also faced with harder loamy ground and gravel sections on Saturday. Together with yesterday's exhausting stage, this section of the rally formed the most demanding phase of the second week of the Dakar.

#301 Toyota: Giniel de Villiers and Dirk Von Zitzewitz
#301 Toyota: Giniel de Villiers and Dirk Von Zitzewitz

Photo by: A.S.O.

“Today's dune crossings were once again extremely demanding, and we did not manage all of them without any problems. We got stuck once, but otherwise we had a good run. We are obviously very pleased to have strengthened our third place. However, it will only be safe once we have driven over the ramp in Lima tomorrow. I am really looking forward to that, as the fans in Peru are absolutely fantastic. They have created a great atmosphere and are extremely euphoric. I like that a lot.”
Giniel de Villiers after stage 13 of the Dakar Rally

We got stuck again today, but this time it required me to get physical. I had to give Giniel a push to get him over the crest of the dune and then chase him for about 300 metres. We made up a lot of the time we lost there when there was some confusion with the navigation at a waypoint. I was the first to find the way out of there, which enabled us to be the first car into the finish. Both yesterday's and today's stages were great: they were just as Dakar stages should be. That is what makes the Dakar so special.
Dirk von Zitzewitz after stage 13 of the Dakar Rally

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Series DAKAR
Tags de villiers, peru, toyota