Giniel de Villiers
De Villiers began his career in circuit racing, winning the domestic South African touring car championship four times in succession from 1997 to 2000 with a dealer-backed Nissan Primera. Switching to off-road racing thereafter, de Villiers made his Dakar Rally debut in 2003 driving for the works Nissan team. Finishing fifth overall at first attempt alongside navigator Pascal Maimon, de Villiers took his first stage victory in 2004 en route to seventh overall in the standings (this time alongside François Jordaan) and won two stages in 2005 on his way to fourth overall (alongside Jean-Marie Lurquin).
De Villiers switched his allegiance to Volkswagen when Nissan withdrew their factory team at the end of 2005, taking another stage win and the runner-up position in the overall standings in 2006 along with navigator Tina Thorner - fifteen minutes behind Mitsubishi's Luc Alphand. Engine trouble prevented de Villiers and his new navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz finishing any higher than eleventh overall in 2007 in spite of four stage victories.
In 2009, de Villiers and von Zitzewitz took the overall victory, albeit largely as a result of teammate Carlos Sainz retiring whilst in a commanding position. More engine trouble in 2010 prevented de Villiers and von Zitzewitz from being able to defend their crown, the pair finishing just seventh overall, but they were able to finish in a strong runner-up position to teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah in 2011 with another stage victory.
De Villiers and von Zitzewitz joined the South African Imperial Toyota team for the 2012 and 2013 event as a result of Volkswagen's withdrawal. They finished in third position in 2012 and a credible second place overall in 2013 despite taking no stage victories.
De Villiers also took part in the 2009 Race of Champions, forming an 'All-Star' team alongside David Coulthard. The pair however failed to advance from the group stages of the Nations Cup competition, whilst de Villiers finished bottom of his group during the individual event.
It was the longest, highest and toughest Dakar Rally since the iconic event moved from politically troubled North Africa to South America in 2009. Just 204 vehicles (78 out of 184 motorcycles, 15 of 42 quads, 61 of 154 cars and 50 of 70 trucks) out of the 450 that started the race in Rosario in Argentina on January 5 made it to the finish. Once again South Africa’s top-selling pick-up (bakkie) demonstrated its toughness and reliability in the supreme challenge in world cross country racing. Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz finished fourth overall and first in the T1.1 class for petrol-powered 4×4 improved cross country vehicles. De Villiers was the only driver to take the fight to an armada of Minis all the way to the finish at the Chilean port city of Valparaiso, winning the last stage on his way to his seventh top five finish in 10 Dakars.
- "Who is Giniel de Villiers?". Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- "Giniel de Villiers' maiden Dakar win 'due to luck'". The Daily Telegraph (London). 18 January 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2009.