Dakar ends in spectacular fashion
The Toyota Imperial team nabbed the final stage of the world’s toughest race, ending fourth overall.
VALPARAÍSO, CHILE - The 13th and final stage of the Dakar Rally 2014 ended in spectacular fashion on Saturday as Chileans came out in their thousands to bid farewell to all the competitors who took part in the world's toughest race.
As far as South Africans were concerned, the Toyota Imperial team did very well with Giniel de Villiers and teammate Dirk von Zitzewitz, finishing in fourth place overall.
"I think it was a good race. It was obviously very tough - the longest Dakar since I've done them in South America," said de Villiers.
Toyota's driver Giniel De Villiers of South Africa and co-driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz of Germany, compete in the 2014 Dakar Rally Stage 12 between El Salvador and La Serena in Chile, on January 17, 2014. Picture: AFP.
The team were quickest in the final stage, finishing 23 seconds faster than Mini-driving Krzysztof Hołowczyc.
"I haven't had a stage win for two or three years now, so it's nice to have another one. We'll take it and hopefully have more to come."
Sadly, that wasn't enough to make up for the hour and 20 minute trail behind overall winner, Spain's Nani Roma.
ARGENTINA, Salta : Spanish Mini driver Nani Joan Roma (R) speaks with Poland's Toyota driver Marek Dabrowski before the start of the Stage 6 of the Dakar 2014 between Tucuman and Salta, Argentina, on January 9, 2014. Picture: AFP
"We're happy to finish. Although we wanted to finish a bit higher up, I don't think we were competitive enough."
Roma, however, was all too pleased with the result.
"I just tried to do my best. But it's not only me - it's more than 100 people who work for me," he said, thanking the many teammates and crew who helped him win this debut Dakar victory.
As for Leroy Poulter and Rob Howie, the pair came home in 33rd position in the same category.
"It's been a long two weeks. It's been really tough, but good," Howie told Eyewitness News .
"This race is so long, so tough, that's why it's so special. We had a good time together, Leroy and I, but we had some bad luck. But we pulled through."
And from the bikers, Spain's Marc Coma emerged victorious while South Africa's Riaan van Niekerk captured 12th place.
"It's been great. It's been a very tough rally this year, a lot harder than what I rode last year. But I'm glad it's over," said van Niekerk.
It was a spectacular occasion as the cars said goodbye to a very appreciative crowd.
ARGENTINA, Rosario : Toyota's driver Giniel De Villiers of South Africa and co-driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz of Germany wave wave during the symbolic start of the 2014 Dakar Rally in Rosario some 350 Km north of Buenos Aires on January 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Juan Mabromata
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