Giniel de Villiers, who finished third overall and first in the class for petrol-engined 4x4 vehicles in the 2012 Dakar Rally, received the Bridgestone/Guild of Motoring Journalists Motor Sportsman of the Year Award for 2012 at a function in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening.
Driving a South African-built Toyota Hilux in the all-South African Imperial Toyota team's first attempt at the world's longest and toughest motor race, the former South African touring car and off road champion and 2009 Dakar Rally winner scored his fourth Dakar podium in five races.
He finished second in the Dakar Rally this year, but that result did not count towards the Sportsman of the Year award.
There were five other nominees for the prestigious award, which was first won in 1964 and has been sponsored by Bridgestone South Africa for the past 20 years:
Darryl Curtis, a multiple former off road and enduro motorcycle champion, who finished a remarkable 22nd out of less than 100 finishers in the 2012 Dakar Rally in South America at his first attempt.
Kelvin van der Linde, who won the Engen Volkswagen Cup in his first year of senior circuit racing to become the youngest ever VW Cup and senior circuit racing national champion.
Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, who won the Absa South African Off Road Championship in a Castrol Toyota Hilux and were also 10th overall in the Dakar Rally in the Imperial Toyota team's second Hilux at their first attempt.
Wade Young, who, at the age of 16, beat 400 top international and South African motorcycle riders to become the youngest-ever winner of the Roof of Africa Rally in Lesotho, an event that has the reputation of being one of the toughest of its kind in the world. He also won a silver medal for South Africa in the FIM International Six Day Enduro.
Colin Watling Award
The winner of the Colin Watling Award for special achievement in motor sport by someone other than a competitor was Glyn Hall, the leader of the Toyota Motorsport team who won the South African off road drivers', co-drivers' and manufacturers' championships, finished second in the national rally championship and placed third and 10th in the international Dakar Rally in Toyota Hilux 4x4s built by the team in their Johannesburg workshops.
Also nominated for the Colin Watling Award was Clare Vale, a racing driver who is chairperson of the Women in Road Safety Forum, an organisation she founded in 2011. It is a gathering of influential and powerful women in motoring dedicated to highlighting the need for more to be done in promoting road safety.