De Villiers gets five-hour Dakar penalty for second motorcyclist incident
Giniel de Villiers has received a five-hour penalty in the Dakar Rally overall standings, leaving him out of the battle for victory after a second incident with a motorcyclist.
The South African Toyota Gazoo Racing driver has been involved in two consecutive incidents (Stage 1 and Stage 2) in the 2022 Dakar event with two bike riders.
The FIA sanctioned the 2009 Dakar winner on Monday with a five-minute penalty for hitting Chilean César Zumaran and not stopping to help him, but the second penalty was much more severe.
De Villiers ran into Moroccan rider Mohamedsaid Aoulad Ali coming down a dune, although he was able to avoid the competitor, he ran over his Morocco Racing Team KTM and left it unusable at around 11.00 local time on Monday during Stage 2.
"We have not heard any alarm signal from Sentinel (car-to-car communication system). We do not doubt that we have received a signal. The problem is that the button for the Sentinel is located on the floor of the co-driver’s side," read de Villiers' statement.
"During the Selective Section, the co-driver's feet jump back and forth and can easily, accidentally press the button. When we came over the dune, we saw the motorcyclist and I avoided him so as not to hurt him.
"At the bottom of the dune, we turned around to make sure that the rider was not injured. We didn't feel hitting the bike when we landed. Then we continued the Selective Section.
"We are very embarrassed that something like this happens. We apologise very much for this incident. We are also willing to compensate the cost to rebuild the bike", explained the South African.
#207 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota: Giniel De Villiers, Dennis Murphy
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
De Villiers has reached an agreement with the Moroccan rider to pay him the costs of replacing the destroyed bike and the registration for the 2023 Dakar Rally.
Even so, the FIA stewards have determined that De Villiers acted in an "unsafe" manner and, according to article 12.2.1.h of the International Sporting Code, he has been given a five-hour penalty overall.
This leaves him completely out of the battle, after finishing Wednesday's fourth stage in fourth place overall – 49m18s behind Toyota teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah.
"The Sentinel is essential for the driver’s safety and for the safety of all other competitors in Rally Dakar. Safety is one of the major concerns by the FIA," says the official document.
"Safety remains a key challenge and the FIA is committed to do everything possible to protect, among others, the drivers. It is the obligation of the crew to react to the signal of the Sentinel System to avoid danger to themselves and others."
"The Stewards consider the behaviour of the crew as an infringement of the regulation which must have consequences. Since Mr. de Villiers has voluntarily contacted the rider, apologised, and will pay for the damage caused, the stewards consider a time penalty to be necessary but also appropriate".
De Villiers is now 5h49m behind the leader and has little chance of winning his second Dakar in 2022.
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