Giniel de Villiers

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Giniel de Villiers (born 25 March 1972 in Barrydale, South Africa) is a South African racing and rally driver, best known for winning the 2009 Dakar Rally.


De Villiers shortly after Dakar 2014

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.[1] 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 on the way to seventh overall in the standings (this time alongside François Jordaan) and won two stages in 2005, ending 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 Zitzewitz took the overall victory, albeit largely as a result of their teammate Carlos Sainz retiring whilst in a commanding position.[2] 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 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. In 2014, de Villiers and Zitzewitz were the best non-Mini crew, winning the final stage of the rally to cement fourth place overall - de Villiers' eighth top five finish in 11 Dakar starts.

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.

Dakar Rally results[edit]

Year Class Vehicle Position Stages won
2003 Car Japan Nissan 5th 0
2004 7th 1
2005 4th 2
2006 Germany Volkswagen 2nd 1
2007 11th 4
2008 Event cancelled – replaced by Central Europe Rally
2009 Car Germany Volkswagen 1st 4
2010 7th 0
2011 2nd 1
2012 Japan Toyota 3rd 0
2013 2nd 0
2014 4th 1
2015 2nd 0
2016 3rd 0
2017 5th 0


  1. ^ "Who is Giniel de Villiers?". Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "Giniel de Villiers' maiden Dakar win 'due to luck'". The Daily Telegraph. London. 18 January 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Stéphane Peterhansel
Dakar Rally
Car Winner

Succeeded by
Carlos Sainz