South Africa's Giniel de Villiers will have his second go at the legendary Dakar desert rally early next year, but this time he will be partnered by another local boy, Francois Jordaan.

South Africa's Giniel de Villiers will have his second go at the legendary Dakar desert rally early next year, but this time he will be partnered by another local boy, Francois Jordaan.


The Proudly South African combination of De Villiers and co-driver Jordaan was announced yesterday in Paris at the Nissan Rally Raid Dakar 2004 Team Announcement. This duo has been together since 2001, when Nissan Motorsport South Africa entered the SA Off-Road Championship. They promptly took the honours in this championship in their first year and were crowned the 2001 Overall SA Off-Road Champions.


Although De Villiers was partnered with Frenchman Pascal Maimon for last year's Dakar (in which he finished a credible fifth), Jordaan assisted De Villers through his preparations for the 2003 event. Now Jordaan has been promoted into the important co-driver seat for the gruelling desert race.


"It is really great for me to have a co-driver in Dakar whom I don't only know very well, but someone who I will be able to communicate fluently with." says De Villiers.


"It is a great honour and privilege for me to participate in the Dakar 2004 with Giniel, we really understand each other and I know him very well. Trust is an important factor in a race such as the Dakar. I am especially proud to be able to fly the Proudly South African flag." Jordaan said at the announcement.


Francois was in Dubai with Giniel to test the new Proudly South Africa Hardbody and to experience first hand some of toughest dunes and terrains. The Hardbody has evolved dramatically from its 2003 predecessor and now sports a much more aerodynamically efficient body.


With a host of under-the-skin improvements, the Nissan team is confident of a good showing in the 2004 Dakar event. The pair will leave with the rest of Team Nissan SA on 27 December 2003 to join the rest of Team Nissan in Cleremont Ferrand in France for the final preparations for the Dakar 2004, which starts on January 1 and finishes in Dakar, Senegal on January 18.


As a further indication of Nissan's desire to win the Dakar, the team also announced the signing of Scottish rally legend and former World Rally Champion, Colin McRae, who will be taking part in the Dakar for the first time next year, partnered with Thina Thorner (Sweden, 4th Dakar).


Ari Vatanen (FIN), also a former World Rally Champion and four-times winner of the Dakar, will be partnered with compatriot Juha Repo who is taking part in his first Dakar.


The fourth Proudly South African Hardbody will be piloted by Yves Loubet (FRA), five time French Rally Champion who will have Frenchman Pascal Maimon as his co-driver.


The Nissan Rally Raid Team will be managed by newly appointed team manager Gilles Martineau. Gilles has solid experience of motorsport team management, having spent 12 years with Ford, where has was the Director of Motorsport Activities.