Giniel De Villiers and von Zitzewitz fight back at Dakar

Dakar De Villiers Fights Back 1

South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers has come back with a fight and has shown why he is one of the world’s top endurance off road drivers after having an excellent run in Tuesday’s special stage four of the Dakar Rally between Nazca and Arequipa in Peru.

Giniel De Villiers back on track

After suffering a 30 minute navigational set back on special Stage 3 of the Dakar Rally, Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz have managed to master the longest and toughest stage of the rally so far and finished fourth in their Imperial Toyota Hilux #301 and have improved their overall position to third.

The 2009 Dakar champions performed well on the 288km stage which features lots of sand, dunes and fesh fesh and arrived at the Arequipa bivouac after more than six hours on the road at 3:00 AM South African time.

“We had a good day today,” said De Villiers. “It was a very long stage, over three and a half hours of hard driving and navigating, the first really hard stage of the rally so far. The Hilux ran well.”

2012 Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret (Mini) are leading ahead of 2011 Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz (Buggy) by five minutes, with De Villiers and von Zitzewitz 33 minutes behind.

Other competitors not so lucky??

After four stages, several potential race winners have succumbed to the challenging driving conditions. Krzysztof Holowczyc of Poland and Portuguese co-driver Filipe Palmeiro in their MINI, retired on special stage 3 after Holowczyc injured his back whilst going over a sand dune.

Argentine duo Lucio Alvarez and Roland Graue started Monday’s stage in third place overall in their South African-built Toyota Hilux and by the end of the day the pair had lost over three hours after severely damaging their suspension going over a big jump. In stage 4, the pair finished 67th and are now placed 27th overall and nearly four hours behind the leaders.

2010 Dakar winner Carlos Sainz of Spain and German co-driver Timo Gottschalk in their Buggy dropped from first place after stage 2 to 24th after a crippling 3 hour 28 minute deficit due to electrical problems on Monday and a leaking fuel tank on Tuesday.

Americans Robbie Gordon and Kellon Walch fell into a hole in the sand dunes on stage 4 and put their Hummer on its back, resulting in over five hours lost leaving them placed 43rd and almost six hours behind the leaders.

??Dakar Rally – Stage 5??

Stage 5 starts on Wednesday at 4:25 PM (SA Time). The route starts with a 337km liaison section and a crossing of the Andes Mountains into Chile. This is followed by a 172km special stage that will see a big change in the terrain with stony tracks, river crossings and a series of valleys to keep both driver and navigator on their toes.