Factory Toyota Hilux driver Giniel De Villiers has been issued a five-minute penalty for hitting one motorcyclist and is under investigation for another, similar run-in at the Dakar Rally.
The incident for which De Villiers was ultimately pinged occurred on the opening stage, when he made contact with Cesar Zumaran.
According to the South African driver, he thought Zumaran had waved him by after the collision, but FIA stewards found him in breach of sporting regulations for failing to stop and check on the rider.
“During stage 1 of the Dakar rally we were involved in an incident with bike rider #106,” wrote De Villiers on his Instagram page.
“Whilst going up a very difficult steep narrow rocky sandy trail section, our car got kicked to the left by a rock resulting in us hitting the back of rider 106's bike, causing him to fall to the ground.
“There was enough space on his right to pass safely but unexpectedly our car was kicked to the left by a rock. We stopped immediately and reversed. The rider got up and indicated to us to pass by waving to us to go past which we then did safely.
“We should have stopped to double-check if he was OK, but because he waved us by our understanding was that he was OK.
“I want to apologise for not stopping and also for the unfortunate incident. Rider 106 continued to finish the stage and is still in the race. I wish him a successful and safe race.”
However, stewards deemed De Villiers in breach of Article 48.5 of the FIA Cross-Country Rally Sporting Regulations, which reads: “If a crew is involved in an accident in which a person who is not a crew member sustains physical injury, the vehicle must stop immediately, and the procedure as laid down in Article 48.4.2 must be followed.”
While The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver believed Zumaran had waved him by, footage telecast on France 4 showed the Chilean losing his footing after attempting to stand, at which time he appeared to hold his leg.
Now, Spanish outlet Diario Motor reports that stewards are investigating De Villiers for allegedly running over the bike of Mohamedsaid Aoulad Ali, who had apparently already fallen off, during Stage 2.
The outcome of that matter is not yet known.
De Villiers is fourth overall after the completion of Stage 3, but would be third if not for the sanction for hitting Zumaran.