3 SA-built Toyota Hilux race vehicles among top 10 in Dakar Rally

The 13-day rally travelled through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.

Toyota's driver Giniel De Villiers of South Africa and co-driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz of Germany compete during Stage 11 of the 2017 Dakar Rally between San Juan and Rio Cuarto, in Argentina, on 13 January 2017. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN – Stephan Peterhansel won the Dakar Rally 2017.

The Frenchman, driving alongside Jean Paul Cotret, finished the final stage in second place, but ended the rally as the clear front-runner, more than five minutes clear of second placed Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena.

Three South African-built Toyota Hilux race vehicles have finished in the top 10.

The 13-day rally, which travelled through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina, ended in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires after 12 stages.

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz trailed stage 12 winner Loeb by just 30 seconds on the final stage of the event, posting the third-fastest time of the day.

This held off Orlando Terranova, who mounted a late charge to challenge De Villiers-Von Zitzewitz for their fifth position in the overall standings on stage 11.

De Villiers-Von Zitzewitz also recorded fifth-fastest time of the stage.

South Africa Motors CEO Andrew Kirby was quoted as saying that he was positive about the team’s results.

“In the end this is the ultimate challenge, because it is undoubtedly the toughest motor race in the world. We may not have achieved what we set out to do this year, but we can certainly be proud of our performance. We were first in class T1 4×4, proving once more just how tough our Toyota Hilux is in these extreme conditions.”

Twenty-four other vehicles completed the race in addition to the three Toyota Hilux vehicles.

Toyota also took top honours in class T2.2 for modified diesel vehicle, where the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 GX crews finished first and second in class.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)