Toyota Imperial South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz secured a superb second overall behind Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret after the final special stage of the 2013 Dakar Rally between La Serena and Santiago in Chile on Saturday.
“Second place counts as a victory for us,” said a delighted De Villiers, who finished 42min 22sec behind the 11-time Dakar winner. “Last year we exceeded our expectation by far and would never in our wildest dreams have believed that we would better our third place from 2012 this time.
“The competition was a lot stronger this time. There were numerous candidates for victory and we were the underdogs. Our reliability enabled us to, not only master the Dakar, but also made the difference.”
Overdrive Racing’s Geoff Olholm, Lucio Alvarez and Adam Malayz reached the finish in 10th, 11th and 15th positions, but suspension problems dropped Nunzio Coffaro from 16th to 20th on the final stage.
Only 92 cars set out along the 121km southerly liaison to the start of the final special stage, which featured a substantial neutralisation section before a short 11km competitive burst brought the action to a close to the east of Valparaiso. A second 158km liaison guided teams into Santiago.
The start was delayed for over 75 minutes because of low-lying cloud and it was raining in parts of the first timed section of 111km. Robbie Gordon opened the stage from Guerlain Chicherit and the American headed De Villiers by just eight seconds after 41km. Joan Roma eventually set the quickest time on the first section, the Spaniard heading Orlando Terranova, Alvarez and De Villiers.
Roma went on to record the fastest time after the second section and Alvarez and De Villiers reached the flying finish in third and fourth. Alvarez’s final stage performance was sufficient for he and navigator Ronnie Graue to climb from 12th to 10th in the final classification at the expense of his team-mate Geoff Olholm and Chile’s Boris Garafulic.
“It was an intense Dakar,” said Alvarez. “We had days of glory and other days of disappointment. Each day was hard. We had to wake up early, do long road connections and give our best to avoid mistakes. The mechanics of the Overdrive team did a great job.”
Geoff Olholm and British co-driver Jonathon Aston set the ninth quickest time on the final stage in the Cairns Coconut Resort-supported Toyota Hilux and reached Santiago in 11th overall.
Former ski jump champion Adam Malysz and co-driver Rafal Marton completed the Dakar in 15th position after wrapping up their challenge with the 16th quickest time on the last stage.
The Venezuelan pairing of Nunzio Coffaro and Daniel Meneses started the day in 16th overall in the Team Azimut Toyota, but they endured a disappointing finish to their Dakar challenge. After 42km they suffered a suspension problem and frantically tried to make emergency repairs while waiting for their support truck.
They dropped 1hr 46min to the stage leader at the end of the first section and headed for the final 11km in the knowledge that they were at risk of losing their place in the top 20. The Venezuelan eventually reached the stage finish 1hr 40min later than his rivals to end his Dakar adventure in disappointing circumstances.
The Overdrive Racing Toyota chassis were built in Belgium in conjunction with Toyota Motorsport South Africa and Hallspeed and are powered by a more powerful V8 engine that conforms to the latest FIA regulations. Overdrive is based at Villers-le-Bouillet, near Huy, in Belgium. Overdrive Racing has support from sponsors Toyota Belgium, Mistral, Donaldson Filtration and Michelin.
Today (Sunday) will be the official podium celebrations for the 8.574km event in front of the Palacio de La Moneda on the Plaza de la Constitución in the Chilean capital.
Final positions after leg 14 – La Serena to Santiago
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 38hrs 32min 39sec
2. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (GER) Toyota Hilux 39hrs 15min 01sec
3. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Mini All4 Racing 40hrs 01min 01sec
4. Joan Roma (ESP)/Michel Périn (FRA) Mini All4 Racing 40hrs 09min 22sec
5. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) BMW X3 CC 40hrs 21min 49sec
6. Carlos Sousa (PRT)/Miguel Ramalho (PRT) Great Wall 41hrs 10min 55sec
7. Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA) SMG Buggy 41hrs 50min 44sec
8. Guerlain Chicherit (FRA)/Jean-Pierre Garcin (FRA) SMG Buggy 42hrs 00min 23sec
Overdrive Toyota entries:
10. Lucio Alvarez (ARG)/Ronnie Graue (ARG) Toyota Hilux 43hrs 18min 27sec
11. Geoff Olholm (AUS)/Jonathon Aston (GBR) Toyota Hilux 43hrs 18min 52sec
15. Adam Malysz (POL)/Rafal Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux 44hrs 38min 41sec
20. Nunzio Coffaro (VEN)/Daniel Meneses (VEN) Toyota Hilux 46hrs 21min 13sec