De Villiers stars at UK speed fest

18 July 2013

South Africa, in the form of Dakar Rally ace Giniel de Villiers and his SA-manufactured Toyota Dakar Racing Hilux, was one of the stars of the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The twentieth edition of the famous festival, a hill climb featuring historic motor racing vehicles that is held in the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex, England, ran from 11 to 14 July and drew around 150 000 visitors.

De Villiers thrilled the crowds with a spectacular performance in among the trees, winning the Goodwood Driver Award for being the most exciting driver on a four-kilometre forest stage.

Style and flair

De Villiers’ time was bettered only by three World Rally Championship (WRC) cars, but his style and flair won over the crowds and the judges.

“The guys really liked the bakkie!” De Villiers said of the spectators and the lucky few who were able to take a drive along as a co-driver. “I had the Hilux on two wheels on Friday, and I guess that people really enjoyed that.”

It was De Villiers’ second visit to the festival, and it marked the 20th year of the famous Hill Climb.

Commenting on his visit, De Villiers said: “We come here to have some fun and showcase the Dakar Racing Hilux, yet in some sense it is also the spiritual start to our Dakar campaign, which will start in full force at the end of this month in the Namib desert.”

‘An amazing show’

He added: “The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an amazing show. So many great and historic racing cars and drivers are on hand and the atmosphere is incredible. If you love cars, you have to attend this festival at least once in your life.”

A four-time South African touring car champion, from 1997 to 2000, De Villiers made his Dakar Rally debut in 2003. Driving for Nissan, he finished fifth overall in his first attempt at the notoriously testing race. Since then he has been one of the race’s most consistent drivers.

He won the Dakar Rally in 2009 and most recently finished second in this year’s event in January, having placed third in 2011.

‘Very excited’

Toyota Imperial South Africa Dakar team principal Glyn Hall commented: “Giniel’s driving at Goodwood makes me very excited about our upcoming tests in Namibia. We have a large number of changes and improvements to test and it will give us a good idea of what our chances are in the 2014 Dakar.”

The Dakar Rally Hilux was part of an impressive display put on by Toyota of its racing heritage.

Other fan favourites the TS030 Hybrid that finished second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, the GT-One car that finished runner-up at Le Mans in 1999, the last works-entered Totota Corolla WRC car, and an open concept for the Toyota 86.

SAinfo reporter and Imperial Toyota