Motorsport 21.1.2018 09:12 am

Brilliant Giniel de Villiers snatches a brilliant third in Dakar

Toyota's south african driver Giniel De Villiers holds his third place trophy on the podium of the 2018 Rally Dakar in Cordoba, Argentina, on January 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / DIEGO LIMA

Toyota's south african driver Giniel De Villiers holds his third place trophy on the podium of the 2018 Rally Dakar in Cordoba, Argentina, on January 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / DIEGO LIMA

South Africa’s veteran wins the final stage of this year’s race to claim a podium finish overall.

Producing a late surge, South African driver Giniel de Villiers won the 14th and final stage of the Dakar Rally to grab third place overall at the two-week race in South America.

He covered the last 120km section of racing, held in Cordoba on Saturday, 40 seconds quicker than French driver Stephane Peterhansel.

While Spaniard Carlos Sainz settled for ninth place on the final leg, he did enough to retain top spot in the general classification, clinching victory for the Peugeot Total outfit.

Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar took second place overall, followed by Toyota Gazoo Racing SA teammate De Villiers in third, with the locally manufactured vehicles putting up a real fight against the Peugeot buggies.

It was the eighth time in his career that De Villiers reached the overall podium at the gruelling annual contest.

Further back in the field, Argentine driver Lucio Alvarez and South African navigator Rob Howie finished 10th for the Overdrive Toyota team, despite rolling their car early in the race.

The SA pairing of Hennie de Klerk and co-driver Gerhard Schutte finished 28th for South Racing in their Volkswagen.

Meanwhile, in the bike division, David Thomas was the best of the SA contingent, taking 36th position overall on his Husqvarna, though he was more than 12 hours off the pace of Austrian winner Matthias Walkner.

The rest of the South African competitors, all riding KTM bikes, displayed tremendous resilience.

Donovan van de Langeberg finished 54th, Willem du Toit was 58th, and Gerry van der Byl ended 85th and last in the two-wheel category.

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