Salta, 10 January 2014 Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz still have the Dakar Rally front-runners in their sights thanks to another top result. The 2009 Dakar winners were the fourth to finish the sixth leg of the desert rally through Argentina and Chile. The stage stretching from Tucumán to Salta was won by Stéphane Peterhansel (Mini). At the end of the first week of the Dakar Rally, Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz are in fourth place overall, just under 41 minutes behind the leader, Joan Roma for Mini, who is at the top of the automobile rankings ahead of two of his teammates, Orlando Terranova and Stéphane Peterhansel, in second and third place.
“That was the easiest stage of this year’s Dakar Rally so far. We had to open the route together with ‘Nani’ Roma, so it was down to us to clear the route for everyone behind us. As a result, we lost some time, because the grip conditions got better and better for those who set off later than us. We’re happy with the result and hadn’t pinned our hopes on anything more. We enjoyed a smooth day without any difficulties.”
Giniel de Villiers after stage 06
“In terms of navigation, opening the route today wasn’t too difficult. It was the easiest stage so far, as it is. Even so, our machine was really put to the test again, especially the brakes. The Hilux worked perfectly today; we didn’t have any difficulties. It needs to stay that way in the second week of the Dakar. We need a clean run if we’re to remain near the front. Because there won’t be any walkovers in the second week.”
Dirk von Zitzewitz after stage 06
Results: Dakar Rally overall classification after leg 06
01. Joan Roma/Michel Périn (E/F), Mini, 22h 11m 28s
02. Orlando Terranova/Paulo Fiuza (RA/P), Mini, 22h 41m 58s
03. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F), Mini, 22h 44m 51s
04. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Imperial Toyota, 22h 52m 22s
05. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Lucas Cruz (Q/E), Mini, 23h 34m 03s
06. Carlos Sainz/Timo Gottschalk (E/D), SMG, 24h 11m 06s
Coming up: Rest day preview
‘Rest day’ is one of the most misleading examples of Dakar Rally terminology, because the main and privateer teams won’t really get much opportunity to rest in Salta. There will be no pressure of competition and there will be no departure in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, but the drivers and co-drivers will nevertheless be busy all day with media appointments. And the team behind them will meanwhile have its toughest day, as the vehicles are dismantled much more than on the previous days, in order to replace worn parts and thoroughly check every detail. As far as the mechanics are concerned, the rest day is actually on Sunday, when the Dakar performs a loop around Salta – giving them the first chance to ease up until lunch, instead of travelling hundreds of kilometres to the next bivouac.
#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.