Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Giniel de Villiers says the Dakar isn’t called the world’s toughest race for nothing as he prepares for the next installment, taking place for the first time in Saudi Arabia.
The Barrydale-born driver has completed 16 Dakar rallies in a row and says the two-week race is physically and mentally draining.
Spain's Alex Haro will occupy the navigator's seat in the Hilux with the South African driver.
De Villiers will compete in his 17th Dakar in Saudi Arabia, in what’s being hailed as the ‘third chapter’. Chapter one being Africa, second South America, and third, Asia.
"I was fortunate enough to win the first one in South America and then a couple of second and third places, so hopefully the first race outing in Saudi Arabia can get us another win," the former four-time SA touring champion says.
The 47-year-old South African has finished in third on two occasions in the last four years, and has stepped up onto the podium eight times.
De Villiers says the terrain will be similar to that of North Africa (where the Rally of Morocco takes place) but won’t have the huge crowds seen at the South American editions of the race.
"From the footage I’ve seen, the terrain looks spectacular and I think it’s well-suited to make for a great race,” De Villiers concluded.
The 2020 Dakar Rally takes place from 5 - 17 January 2020, beginning in Jeddah and finishing in Qiddiyah.
Race organisers say the drivers and crews will be facing a total of 7500km, including 5000km of specials, five of them longer than 450km.