17 January 2012
Team Imperial Toyota continued South Africa’s fine tradition in the Dakar Rally which finished in Lima, Peru on Sunday, with a remarkable performance for a first-time outfit. There was also a strong finish for the Toyota-powered buggy of Mark Corbett and Francois Jordaan.
However, it was the tried-and-tested combination of Giniel de Villiers and his German co-driver, Dirk von Zitzewitz, which led the way, finishing third overall after an impressive showing in very difficult and testing conditions through Argentina, Chile and Peru.
It marked the third time the pair has finished on the podium in the Dakar. Previously, they won the event in 2009 and finished as runners-up in 2010. Theirs was also the first petrol-powered vehicle to make it onto the podium since 2009.
‘We did it!’
“We did it! 3rd place podium! Great team effort, and unbreakable Toyota!” wrote De Villiers on Twitter.
Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, competing in the event for the first time, claimed eleventh place, while the Team Overdrive South African Hilux of Lucio Alvarez and Andy Graue ended in sixth position.
Johannesburg property developer Corbett and Pretoria businessman Jordaan finished their first attempt on the Dakar Rally in 24th place overall.
It is interesting to note that the Imperial Toyota Hallspeed Hiluxes are built for the South African ABSA off-road national championship and their engines are restricted in accordance to regulations that have been accepted internationally, including for the Dakar as from 2013.
First, second and third
Of the many cars that adhered to this future Dakar specification, referred to as class T1.5 in the paddock, the South Africans finished first, second and third, a most encouraging result.
Corbett and Jordaan competed in the two-wheel drive class of the top T1 car category and were classified fourth in the class and third among the petrol-engined cars.
“Words like relentless, gruelling, tough and tenacity take on a whole new meaning on the Dakar,” said a delighted Corbett at the finish in the Plaza de Armas in Lima.
‘An unforgettable experience’
“I’ve watched the Dakar Rally on television for many years and it’s always been my dream to compete in this great race. It has been a privilege and an unforgettable experience.
“To finish the Dakar is an achievement all on its own, but to do so in our own car with our own support team is something of which I am immensely proud. We couldn’t have done it without our wonderful back-up crew, which included my father, Ernest, and mother, Gaye.
“Francois did a great job of keeping us on the route, which was a difficult task with our having to find hidden way points each day. This has been almost a life-changing experience and I can’t wait to come back and do it all again.”
For Alfie Cox, the 2012 race was forgettable. His Volvo XC60RR burnt out on the first stage.
Darryl Curtis was the leading South African in the motorbike category, finishing in 22nd place on his KTM 450 Replica. Greg Raaf placed 83rd, while Neil Scott-Williams and Iain Stevenson failed to finish.
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material