Fiambalá stage stopped: Rain stops play for Three-O-One
Fiambalá, 16th January 2013 Unforced misfortune hit Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz on one of their favourite stages. No sooner had the South African and his German co-driver got their Toyota Hilux up to speed than a severe storm stopped play. After dried-out riverbeds rapidly mutated into torrential streams, the “Dakar” organisers ASO were forced to stop the eleventh stage running from La Rioja to Fiambalá for safety reasons. The outcome of the stage has yet to be announced.
The cancellation could not have come at a worse point in time for 2009 “Dakar” winners Villiers and von Zitzewitz, who had just recorded an excellent time at the mid-stage control, and seemed on target to repeat their 2009 and 2011 performances on the same stage. In 2009, the South African-German duo had effectively set up their overall victory in Fiambalá by sensationally storming back from a 45-minute deficit to take the lead of the event; in 2011 they celebrated their only stage victory here after Dirk von Zitzewitz navigated masterfully on both occasions. “Ginny” and “Schnietz” are currently awaiting a decision from ASO while preparing to tackle Thursday’s 12th leg, which passes through the Argentine-Chilean border.
“A great pity the stage was stopped, particularly as we were going very well. However, naturally the safety of competitors is paramount. We were very pleased with the performance of our Toyota until the stage was stopped. We handled the dunes well, mainly due to Dirk’s navigation skills. That he does a superb job was proven on this stage in 2009, when we won. In 2011 his skills also proved decisive, enabling us to win the stage. Today the weather forced a decision, and that was that.”
Giniel de Villiers after stage 11
“The first part of the stage was typical Fiambalá: soft dune sand and difficult navigation, both of which we mastered well. We are slightly disappointed about the cancellation, as we had just gotten up to speed. But, tomorrow is a new day with new challenges.”
Dirk von Zitzewitz after stage 11
Results: Dakar Rally overall classification after leg 10
- Achtung: Die Wertung für die elfte Etappe liegt seitens des Veranstalters noch nicht vor. 01. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F), Mini, 28:12.00 Std.
- 02. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Toyota, 29:04.38 Std.
- 03. Leonid Novitzkiy/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS/RUS), Mini, 29:20.40 Std.
- 04. Nani Roma/Michel Périn (E/F), Mini, 29:46.04 Std.
- 05. Orlando Terranova/Paulo Fiuza (ARG/PRT), BMW, 30:10:49 Std.
Coming up: Preview Stage 12
(Connection: 392 km, special stage: 319 km, connection: 4 km)
Goodbye Argentina, hello Chile: No rest, though, for the competitors on the 12th Stage, which for the second time crosses both the Andes at an altitude of over 2800 metres above sea level, and the infamous Atacama Desert, which has not seen a drop of rain in living memory. Giniel de Villiers: “We face an unusually tough stage to Copiapó. In previous years the organisers traditionally gave field a short breather after the Fiambalá dune stage. This year that is not the case, so it is really intense.” Straight after the start we face rocky sections cutting through a number of Andes passes. Later when we head for Copiapó we have some fast, sandy sections before the last 100 kilometres bring with them fine sand and challenging dunes. Once again the Dakar field faces a challenging day.”
Three-O-One, 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 Dakar Rally 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 Dakar Rally 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.
Three-O-One, 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 2013 the De-Villiers-von-Zitzewitz-Toyota combination enters the next round. In the meantime, he has achieved great success: this is reflected in ten 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.
The “Dakar” on TV
Wednesday, 16th January 2013
23:00 Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 11, summary (re-run)
Thursday, 17th January 2013
19:30 Uhr Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 12, interviews at the bivouac (live)
Friday, 18th January 2013
00:00 Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 12, summary (re-run)
18:45 Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 13, interviews at the finish (live) 23:00 Eurosport 2013 Rallye Dakar, leg 13, summary (re-run)