Antofagasta, 15 January 2014 The tenth leg of the Dakar Rally saw Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz lose a lot of time, yet still climb a place in the overall standings. The duo once again overcame several challenges on their way from Iquique to Antofagasta, and were ultimately rewarded with fourth place overall. Of all things, it was the final dune of the day that proved to be particularly perilous as “GdV” and “DvZ” bore down on the end of the stage in Antofagasta: the South African/German duo had to dig their Imperial Toyota Hilux out of the soft sand. And to make matters worse, they then lost more important time when they had to change a tyre, meaning the gap between #302 and the front-runners grew yet further.
The tenth stage of the Rally Dakar was split into two sections: sand alternated with loose soil for the first 231 kilometres of special stage. That was followed by a 185-kilometre liaison. The second 215 kilometres against the clock were dominated by the so-called “Fesh Fesh” sand – extremely soft sand that could soon become a competitor’s undoing. The route continued along winding routes in the mining region around La Portuda and passed “La Portada” – a natural, andesite arch rising out of the Pacific Ocean.
“Once again, it was not an easy day for us, but then there is no such thing as an easy day at the ‘Dakar’. We struggled with the first dune we had to cross, and took three attempts to get over it. Fortunately the traction was better after we had let some air out of the tyres. We made good progress after that, but we then came unstuck at the very last dune, of all things. We didn’t quite have enough momentum and ended up getting stuck right on the crest. We could hardly have been unluckier, as we then had to get out and dig our pickup free. It was very frustrating, and my fault. Despite that, we still managed to climb a place in the overall standings. Let’s see what happens on Thursday.” Giniel de Villiers after stage 10
“The sand really threw a spanner in the works today. That soft ‘Fesh Fesh’ sand is really treacherous. As we were stuck on the last dune and hard at work digging our way out, I found myself wondering why there were no cars passing us from behind. It later transpired that some cars had failed to find a waypoint. We are sorry to hear that Carlos and Timo crashed out today. Thankfully they both seem in good health. The longest and most difficult stage awaits us on Thursday. Let’s hope we get through it ok.” Dirk von Zitzewitz after stage 10
Results: Dakar Rally overall classification after leg 10
01. Joan Roma/Michel Périn (E/F), Mini, 38h 52m 57s
02. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F), Mini, 38h 55m 12s
03. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Lucas Cruz (Q/E), Mini, 39h 38m 58s
04. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Imperial Toyota, 40h 07m 13s
05. Orlando Terranova/Paulo Fiuza (RA/P), Mini, 40h 07m 33s
06. Krzsyztof Holowczyc/Konstantin Zhiltsov (PL/RU), Mini, 42h 10m 28s
Coming up: Stage 11 preview
Antofagasta–El Salvador (liaison: 144, special stage: 605, liaison: 0 km)
The competitors at the Dakar Rally are slowly but surely bearing down on the finish. Just three stages to go before the drivers – barring disaster – cross the finish line in Valparaíso on the Pacific coast of Chile. However, it once again gets hot, sandy and extremely demanding before then. The Copiapó dunes in the infamous and extremely hot Atacama Desert await on Thursday. The key here is once again to navigate skilfully and avoid getting bogged down in the fine, deep sand. Before they head into the Atacama, the drivers must first cross numerous dry river beds, which demand great caution. It is easy not to notice the sharp banks, which can damage even the most robust suspension.
#302, in the driving seat: Giniel de Villiers
If awards were given out for versatility in motorsport, Giniel de Villiers would be a hot favourite to pick up the special prize for lifetime achievement. The likeable, down-to-earth racing driver from Stellenbosch in South Africa won five national touring car titles in South Africa, defeating his subsequent Team Principal in the Volkswagen works team Kris Nissen and other top European stars on the way, before switching to marathon rallying. Giniel de Villiers describes himself as an “outdoorsy person”, who loves being in the fresh air. Whether on a jet ski or a mountain bike, de Villiers is always looking for action. However, in both his sporting and private lives, intelligent discretion is one of the real hallmarks of “Ginny”. As such, his second career away from tarmacked roads and permanent racetracks has also been a distinguished one: together with his co-driver at the time, Tina Thörner (S), he finished second at the 2006 Rally Dakar with Volkswagen – a milestone, as this was at the time the highest place ever achieved by a pair in a diesel-powered vehicle. His big breakthrough came when the Rally Dakar made its debut outside of the Black Continent in 2009: with co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz at his side, the pair achieved a historic success: the first victory by an African, the first in a diesel car, and the first ever win in South America.
#302, calling the shots: Dirk von Zitzewitz
Dirk von Zitzewitz has literally been at home in the navigator’s seat since he took his first breath: the German was born in precisely the spot, in which he has enjoyed his greatest sporting success – in the passenger seat. The co-driver from Ostholstein is regarded as one of the best in his profession. In 2009, he and his driver Giniel de Villiers won the first Dakar ever to be held in South America. New territory? For Dirk von Zitzewitz, the terrain away from tarmacked roads is the perfect place to demonstrate his natural, instinctive talent for finding the right way. His success and reputation are no fluke: even as a teenager, Zitzewitz used to play ‘Dakar’ with a friend and a rickety old moped. Back then, the event was still establishing itself and was yet to develop the international prestige it enjoys today. Despite this, it still cast a spell on the off-road enthusiast from north Germany. Dirk von Zitzewitz won the German Enduro Championship title on 15 occasions, before going on to compete in three Dakars on a motorbike. As a co-driver to a number of different drivers, he has competed in the mother of all desert rallies every year since 2002. In 2012 Zitzewitz came full circle: it was ten years since he made his first appearance in a car – again a privately run Toyota. In 2014 the De-Villiers-von-Zitzewitz-Toyota combination enters the third round. In the meantime, he has achieved great success: this is reflected in eleven podiums – five of which were victories – 33 stage wins and 31 days leading events in a car. As such, Dirk von Zitzewitz is already one of the most successful co-drivers of all time on the marathon rally scene.