Winner of the 2009 Dakar and a five-time Dakar podium visitor, South African rally driver Giniel De Villiers is as one with the Dakar Rally as the very terrain that makes up the course!
But it wasn't always the case; Giniel started out his career as a track racer, and a pretty good one at that. Anyone who needs convincing has only to look at the four South African Touring Car titles he has under his belt, including three in a row from 1997 to 1999.
But in 2001 he needed a change of scenery... literally. So he turned his attention to off-track pursuits, winning the South African Off-Road championship that year. Four years later, he joined VW and within 12 months he was enjoying victory with wins in the Rally Transiberico and Rally Morocco, as well as second places on the Dakar Rally and Tunisian Rally.
The withdrawal of VW in 2011 was a blow for the enduro veteran, but another opportunity soon followed. The South African Imperial Toyota team allowed Giniel and his faithful co-driver, Dirk Von Zitzewitz, to carry on doing what they do best. De Villiers now races a Hilux Pick-up and has plenty to celebrate at recent editions of the Dakar. In 2012, Giniel and Dirk finished third and in 2013 the pair came home as runners-up.
During the 2014 Dakar, Giniel was gunning for the win and claimed four podium finishes throughout the 13 stages – including a win in the final stage in Valparaíso – and finished the rally in fourth place overall. In 2015, he almost tasted victory with a runner-up position and remained in great shape the following year, taking third place on the podium in 2016.
He finished in fifth-place overall in the 2017 edition of the Dakar.Read more