South Africans should regard his second position in this year's Dakar Rally as a miracle, not a disappointment, Giniel de Villiers told Beeld newspaper in a report on Wednesday.
He and his German teammate Dirk von Zitzewitz had recorded their Imperial Toyota team triumph after 8500km and 15 days of blood, sweat and intense focus, in 39 hours, 15 minutes and 1 second, he said.
Giniel de Villiers (right) and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz hold their trophies after arriving at OR Tambo airport in Joburg on Tuesday.
In 2012, De Villiers and his team achieved third place.
This year, winners Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret, both from France, completed the rally in 38 hours, 32 minutes and 39 seconds.
The 2013 race, De Villiers' ninth, started in Peru and ended in Argentina and Chile.
De Villiers said that never, in his wildest dreams, had he thought he and his team mates would improve their position to second place.
IT TOOK VW MUCH LONGER
"Yes, I realise that expectations were very high, but perhaps people should view our win in the right context ... it took Volkswagen three years to reach the podium and six years to win.
"If you compare the Toyota team's budget with that of the Germans, this is a miracle," he told the newspaper.
But De Villiers is confident that even better things are yet to come: "This result is history now and it's time to move forward. We must aim to do better next year.
"We have the team and we have the backing of Toyota and our other sponsors for the next two years. With a little more development of the racing Hilux and a bit of luck - winning the Dakar always requires some good luck - I think we can do it." -Sapa & IOL