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DAKAR: de Villiers win ends Mitsubishi domination.

Giniel de Villiers has finally brought to an end Mitsubishi's seven-year domination of the iconic Dakar Rally by winning the 14th stage today to claim his maiden triumph on the arduous event – and Volkswagen's first in almost three decades.

Indeed, the German manufacturer was left with dual reason to celebrate, for not only did de Villiers' success mark an end to a Dakar drought stretching all the way back to Swede Freddy Kottulinksy in a VW Iltis in the rally's second edition in 1980, but Mark Miller came home second to crown a crushing one-two, with the leading Mitsubishi that of Czech pair Miroslay Zapletal and Tomas Ourednicek down in seventh place.

Moreover, the Race Touareg becomes the first diesel engined-machine to win the king of all rally-raids, and de Villiers ended his charge in style by setting the fastest time on the last special stage – but it was not an easy run.

Those used to the Dakar in Africa might still remember the final special stage being a 100km affair and one that was held 'just for the fun of it' on the banks of Lake Rose. This one in the Santa Fé province towards Rosario, the birthplace of a certain Ernesto Guevara, was a far tougher proposition.

The suspense regarding the overall win was diluted somewhat by VW's team orders stipulating that barring any unforeseen circumstances or a serious driving error or problem for de Villiers, Miller was to dutifully play a respectful supporting role and not put any unnecessary pressure on his team-mate, especially given the duo's significant advantage over third-placed Robby Gordon.

de Villiers, however, was clearly in no mood for taking it easy, and the South African had to see off challenges from the BMW X3 of Guerlain Chicherit at CP1 and both Leonid Novitskiy and Krzysztof Holowczyc at CP2.

On fast and windy trails that he knows as well as the sand they are made of, however, the canny 36-year-old was not to be denied, and his fourth stage victory of 2009 – and twelfth of his impressive Dakar career – saw de Villiers cross the finish line just under nine minutes ahead of Miller.

Gordon completed the entirely English-speaking podium with his Team Dakar USA Hummer, with the top six being rounded out in the final reckoning by Ivar Erik Tollefsen, Holowczyc and Dieter Depping, and former Dakar motorcycle winner Joan 'Nani' Roma winding up tenth of the 88 finishers aboard his Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart diesel-engined Lancer.



Argentina-Chile Dakar 2009 - Positions on SS14:

1. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen Touareg 1hr 35m 43s
2. Leonid Novitsky BMW X3 CC +0hrs 00m 02s
3. Krzysztof Holowczyc Nissan Navara +0hrs 00m 17s
4. Nani Roma Mitsubishi Racing Lancer +0hrs 00m 38s
5. Guerlain Chicherit BMW X3 CC +0hrs 00m 50s
6. Mark Miller Volkswagen Touareg +0hrs 06m 39s


Argentina-Chile Dakar 2009 – Final Positions:

1. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen Touareg 48hrs 10m 57s
2. Mark Miller Volkswagen Touareg +0hrs 08m 59s
3. Robby Gordon Hummer H3 +1hrs 46m 15s
4. Ivar Erik Tollefsen Nissan Navara +6hrs 04m 34s
5. Krzysztof Holowczyc Nissan Navara +6hrs 37m 49s
6. Dieter Depping Volkswagen Touareg +8hrs 43m 29s


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Giniel de Villiers - Volkswagen Race Touareg   [pic credit: Volkswagen Motorsport]
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Steve Buck

January 19, 2009 8:55 AM

It was a refreshing Dakar. With so many withdrawals of top contenders, stages being shortened & even being run as non-special, this one turned out be tougher for the competitors and possibly even the organisers, than many expected. Well done to everyone at VW - awesome job. Considering the huge role played by the navigator's, it's surprising that their names are omitted so often in the results published.



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