Giniel De Villiers has been hit with a five-hour penalty after running over a motorcycle, his second incident with a two-wheeler at the Dakar Rally.
De Villiers, who had been fourth in the overall classification, has endured a difficult event so far, having received a five-minute penalty following Sunday’s opening stage of the rally in which the South African failed to check on biker Cesar Zuraman.
A day later, de Villiers hit another bike while negotiating a dune on the selective section 2, causing what the stewards described as “major mechanical damage” to the bike of Moroccan Ali Oukerbouch.
De Villiers did not strike Ali himself, but caused “major mechanical damage” to his KTM, according to stewards.
Stewards determined that the South African had committed a breach of Article 12.2.1h of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, which concerns “Any unsafe act or failure to take reasonable measures, thus resulting in an unsafe situation.”
De Villiers said he did not hear the Sentinel, the car-to-car warning system which is supposed to signal hazards, speculating that it may have been accidentally turned off by co-driver Dennis Murphy.
He also claimed to have not realized he had run over the motorcycle with his Hilux.
The South African has promised to pay for the costs of replacing the KTM, as well as the Moroccan rider’s entry fee for the 2023 Dakar Rally.
“We have not heard any alarm signal from Sentinel,” read a statement from De Villiers.
“We do not doubt that we have received a signal. The problem is that the button for the Sentinel is located on the floor of the co-driver’s side. [Note: What mental midget put it there?]
“During the Selective Section, the co-driver’s feet jump back and forth and can easily, accidentally, press the button.
“When we came over the dune, we saw the motorcyclist and I avoided him so as not to hurt him.
“At the bottom of the dune, we turned around to make sure that the rider was not injured. We didn’t feel hitting the bike when we landed. Then we continued the Selective Section.
“We are very embarrassed that something like this happens. We apologize very much for this incident.
“We are also willing to compensate the cost to rebuild the bike.”