Two flat tyres and soft sand for lunch – #302 drops back to fifth
Iquique, 14 January 2014 Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz lost ground on leg nine of the Dakar Rally, dropping back from third to fifth overall. Two punctures knocked the duo in the Imperial Toyota Hilux out of their stride. Stamina and patience were the order of the day on a tough ride through the extremely dusty Atacama Desert from Calama to Iquique: “GdV” and “DvZ” showed great intuition as they tiptoed from dune to dune over extremely soft ground – and eventually came home with the fifth fastest time of the day. They remain the “best of the rest” in the overall standings, behind four Minis. #302 is on exactly the same time as fourth-placed Nasser Al-Attiyah/Lucas Cruz.
Tuesday’s leg of the “Dakar” started in the mountains and headed downhill towards the ocean. The field then crossed the infamous Atacama Desert along the Pacific coast of Chile – the driest place in the world, where some places have not had any rain for years. The competitors scrambled their way through the sandy mountains, sometimes in slow motion. Unfortunately, Giniel and Dirk’s South African team-mates, Leeroy Poulter and Robert Howie, discovered just how perilous this terrain can be for any vehicle: the duo lost over two hours after rolling the #323 Hallspeed Toyota.
“That really was an extremely difficult Dakar day today. It was all looking very good early on, as everything was going nicely for us at first. However, we then suffered a flat tyre, which knocked us out of our stride a bit. We then caught Holowczyc – only to then suffer a second puncture. That was reason enough to take it a bit steadier for the rest of the stage, particularly when crossing the very soft dunes. When you see the problems some of our rivals had today, we can be lucky that we made it to the end of the stage as successfully as we did. Despite that, we are obviously disappointed that we lost so much time and third place in the overall standings today.”
Giniel de Villiers after stage 09
“Today’s stage was really fierce. The first thing to make our lives difficult was the high altitude – and the resulting loss of performance due to the thin air. After changing the two tyres, the big challenge was the extremely soft dunes, which were very difficult to negotiate. The blazing sun around midday didn’t exactly help: it makes it very difficult to see the contours of the dunes, and unfortunately the roadbook was no great help either. We sometimes had to take several run-ups to get enough momentum to get over the dunes. We really feel for our team-mates, who appear to have had a roll. The main thing is that it fortunately does not look as though anything untoward happened to them. Our Red Bull friends Sainz and Gottschalk also lost a lot of time today – hopefully they will be able to continue tomorrow.”
Dirk von Zitzewitz after stage 09
Results: Dakar Rally overall classification after leg 09
01. Joan Roma/Michel Périn (E/F), Mini, 34h 15m 37s
02. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F), Mini, 34h 27m 47s
03. Orlando Terranova/Paulo Fiuza (RA/P), Mini, 35h 10m 10s
04. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Lucas Cruz (Q/E), Mini, 35h 15m 23s
05. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Imperial Toyota, 35h 15m 23s
06. Krzsyztof Holowczyc/Konstantin Zhiltsov (PL/RU), Mini, 37h 15m 40s
Coming up: Stage 10 preview
A high-speed rollercoaster ride awaits the competitors on the tenth leg of the Dakar Rally. From Iquique, the route leads 684 kilometres along the picturesque Pacific coast towards Antofagasta. Sand alternates with loose soil for the first 231 kilometres against the clock. This is followed by a 185-kilometre liaison. The second 215-kilometre part of the morning’s stage takes the cars over gravel and the so-called “Fesh Fesh” sand – extremely fine sand, which can soon end in disaster. It continues over winding routes in the mining region around La Portuda. As well as a phenomenal Pacific backdrop, the must avoid being distracted by “La Portada” – a natural arch that rises out of the ocean and dates back to the stone age – which can be seen in the distance shortly before the finish.
#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.
The “Dakar” on TV
Tuesday, 14 January 2014
23:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 09th leg, highlights
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
23:00 hrs Eurosport 2014 Dakar Rally, 10th leg, highlights