Ten South Africans will be competing in the 35th running of the world’s longest and toughest off-road race, the Dakar Rally, which starts on January 5 and once again runs through Peru, Argentina and Chile.
Flying our flag will be the Toyota SA works entries of Giniel de Villiers (with German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz), and Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, both in Class T1 Toyota Hilux 4x4s. Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson, who came second in this year’s Absa SA Off Road Championship for special vehicles, will compete in a Class T1 McRae MC-4RS 4x4.
In the motorcycle category there are four SA entrants: Darryl Curtis and Riaan van Niekerk on Broadlink KTM 450 bikes, Brett Cummings on a Honda, and Glen Grundy, also on a Honda.
Sarel van Biljon will be our lone quad category entry on his E-ATV 690-SM.
SECOND ON THE GRID
De Villiers, who won the first South American version of the Dakar in 2009 with VW and finished third in this year’s event with Toyota, will be starting second on the grid in car number 301, behind 2011 champion Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz in an American-built V8 Buggy (car number 300).
Vos, who finished 10th in this year’s Dakar (his first attempt), will carry number 312. Vos goes into the Dakar full of confidence after wrapping up his fifth SA off road championship in his Hilux last weekend.
Drivers and navigators aside, South Africa also has eight locally-built Toyota Hilux 4x4 double-cab pick-ups, developed by Toyota Motorsport and assembled in the team’s Kyalami workshops under the direction of team principal Glyn Hall, contesting the race of about 8500km.
Two bakkies are being piloted by the Toyota works team drivers, four have been entered by Belgian Team Overdrive (whose team manager happens to be South African resident Scott Abraham), while another two will be in the hands of Team Overdrive customer teams from Australia and Venezuela.
The field will comprise 471 vehicles consisting of 195 motorcycles, 160 cars, 76 trucks and 40 quads – with 53 represented.
The race will be run over 14 days and 14 stages. It starts in the Peruvian capital of Lima on the Pacific coast of South America, has one rest day in San Miguel de Tucuman in Argentina on January 13, and ends in Santiago, Chile, on January 19.