Tackling Dakar head on
This year’s Dakar Rally had no shortage of surprises as competitors representing different classes battled through the stages of the “world’s toughest race” across Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, between January 4 and 17.
South African Dakar Rally legend Giniel de Villiers finished second with German navigator, Dirk von Zitzewitz in the South African-built Toyota Imperial Hilux. It was, however, Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah who, with navigator Matthieu Baumel, took the win in the Qatar Rally Team Mini with a lead of almost 35 minutes.
“We drove a great race this year, and the Toyota Imperial Hilux never let us down,” said an ecstatic De Villiers after completing the podium formalities in Buenos Aires. “But Nasser is a very experienced and fast competitor, and catching him is never easy – never mind what you’re driving.”
Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie in the second Toyota Imperial Hilux demonstrated an excellent pace throughout the race, but a broken suspension part cost them precious time. The number two Hilux also missed a waypoint and received a 40-minute penalty.
Japanese truck manufacturer, Hino, showed its metal with a 24th consecutive finish. Its record of zero mechanical breakdowns remained intact.
The two competing Hinos scored first and second positions for trucks with an under ten-litre engine capacity. They achieved overall finishing positions of 16th (Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura) and 32nd (Yoshimasa Sugawara, Yoko Wakabayashi and Katsumi Hamura) out of 42 trucks that completed the course, and a total of 64 trucks that entered this year’s event.
Hino, being the first Japanese manufacturer to enter the annual Dakar Rally in 1991, also scored its sixth consecutive class win in the gruelling conditions.
“We are pleased and proud of yet another display of outstanding reliability and durability by these two Hino trucks in the toughest regular test for this type of vehicle in open competition in the world,” comments the vice president of Hino South Africa, Ernie Trautmann.
Iveco also gave fans something to cheer about with strong finishing positions in this year’s Dakar Rally. The Dutch driver, Hans Stacey, won four stages with an impressive three consecutive wins in his Iveco Powerstar. Stacey finished overall in sixth position.
Competition favourite, Gerard du Rooy, in his Powerstar, finished in an impressive ninth position overall after his chances were compromised by a crash in the fourth stage.
Pep Vila finished in 13th position overall in his Iveco Trakker Evolution II. Vila demonstrated excellent teamwork by aiding his teammates on more than one occasion, enabling them to stay in the race.