Winner of the Dakar in 2009, the South African Giniel de Villiers could be forced to miss the 2021 edition of the rally-raid after having tested positive for the coronavirus before his departure for Saudi Arabia.
Will Toyota lose one of its weapons on the Dakar 2022? While the Japanese manufacturer will be able to rely on Nasser Al-Attiyah to face teams such as Audi, which will be able to count on Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz for his debut in the event, or the BRX team led by Sébastien Loeb and Nani Roma, Giniel de Villiers could miss the call. The winner of the Dakar in 2009 was unable to reach Saudi Arabia as soon as possible.
Indeed, the South African tested positive for the coronavirus before taking the plane to Jeddah, from where the departure will be given on January 1. A first test carried out by Giniel de Villiers on December 20 gave a positive result. According to information from the British magazine Motorsport, six new tests carried out during the week gave the same result and did not allow the pilot to take the plane with the rest of the Toyota team.
Meeke called for help?
While he must reach the Arabian Peninsula before Wednesday in order to be ready in time for the first stage of the Dakar, Giniel de Villiers must undergo a final screening test on Monday. If the result is negative, the South African will be able to participate in his 19th Dakar, he who has finished eight times on the podium of the event. Otherwise, the Toyota team will have to put in place a « plan B » and has already taken measures on this subject.
Indeed, the Japanese formation took with it the British pilot Kris Meeke, who has WRC experience with five wins in the World Rally Championship, when he defended the colors of the French manufacturer Citroën alongside his Irish co-driver Paul Nagle. Another solution could be the engagement of Dutchman Bernhard ten Brinke, used to the Dakar with Toyota. Such a change of plan would then require the Japanese manufacturer to rely mainly on Nasser Al-Attiyah to aim for a victory in the general classification.