2019 Dakar Rally: race report 3

2019 Dakar Rally

The first report from the 2019 Dakar Rally covered the preparation and first three stages, which culminated in the #301 Hilux crew of Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel leading the event. Our second report covered stages four through six, where Toyota Gazoo Racing consolidated its overall lead – which left everything to play for in the final four stages…

2019 Dakar Rally: Stage 7

San Juan de Marcona loop: road sections, 63km; special stage, 323km

Feared to be the harshest of the 2019 event, stage seven bared its teeth with a gruelling, 323km test during which Al-Attiyah’s lead slimmed to a little under 30 minutes. The Qatari driver made 1,590 gear changes during over four hours of pedal-to-the-metal driving – all while being blinded by plumes of fine sand.

“It was a really difficult [stage],”Al-Attiyah said. “We started the day as the second car on the road but then [Sébastien Loeb] lost time early on and we had to open the road for most of the stage. Then the wind came up and made it almost impossible to see in the fesh-fesh, so we lost more time towards the end. Even so, we’re pleased to still be leading and I’d rather go into the last three stages 30 minutes ahead than 30 minutes behind!”

The stage was also good for De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz, who posted the sixth-fastest time despite poor visibility in the soft dunes. They are now in the perfect position to support the leading #301 Hilux. “Our starting position for stage eight puts us two cars – or six minutes – behind Nasser, so we can be on site very quickly to support our teammate if he runs into any difficulties.

Ten Brinke and Panseri put in a strong performance, starting particularly well, but were delayed after getting stuck in a ditch that wasn’t clearly defined in the road book. “It was a bit of a mini adventure that cost us five or six minutes on a day that we were posting top-five times throughout the stage,” the Dutch driver confirmed.

#301 Hilux: Al-Attiyah / Baumel + 11m 58s 4 1
#302 Hilux: De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz + 16m 31s 6 13
#309 Hilux: Ten Brinke / Panseri + 25m 45s 9 9

2019 Dakar Rally: Stage 8

San Juan de Marcona to Pisco: road sections, 213km; special stage, 360km

Two-time Dakar winner Al-Attiyah set about the stage with surgical precision. The #301 Hilux started fourth on the road, which put the crew in a strong position and allowed the Qatari to push on through some of the toughest dunes experienced so far and set the second-fastest time of the day.

Some of the pressure was eased when rival competitor Stéphane Peterhansel lost 24 minutes after getting stuck in the dunes midway through the stage. This allowed Al-Attiyah and Baumel to extend their lead at the top of the overall classification.

“It was tough out there but the Hilux was absolutely perfect and we didn’t make any serious mistakes,” breathed Al-Attiyah with relief. “The team did an amazing job to prepare the car for us and we hope to repay them by bringing home the big trophy.”

Also showing their class were De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz, who posted the fourth-fastest time in the #302 Hilux, just eight minutes behind their top-placed teammates. Less fortunate, however, were Ten Brinke and French navigator Panseri, who suffered a terminal gearbox failure. The pair had posted the fifth-fastest time at the second waypoint but lost significant time before the end of the section, ultimately being forced into retirement after the support truck was unable to fix the issue on the stage.

#301 Hilux: Al-Attiyah / Baumel + 07m 27s 2 1
#302 Hilux: De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz + 15m 55s 4 10
#309 Hilux: Ten Brinke / Panseri Retired n/a n/a

2019 Dakar Rally: Stage 9

Pisco loop: road section, 96km; special stage, 313km

This will be remembered as a turning point in this year’s raid, not for TGR but for the crews chasing Al-Attiyah and Baumel’s #301 Hilux. A curveball was thrown when Peterhansel’s MINI was forced to retire and Loeb’s Peugeot got stuck and lost a lot of time. Another competitor in the top ten rolled his car and last year’s champion Carlos Sainz suffered transmission failure.

“The stage played right into our hands,” said TGR’s team principal, Glyn Hall. “But Nasser and Giniel stuck to our game plan and delivered exactly what we needed – two cars home with no problems, a healthy lead and just one stage to go.”

The stage began with Al-Attiyah alongside a group of four that included Loeb, Roma (MINI) and teammate De Villiers. Despite lining up alongside two of his closest challengers, the Qatari didn’t allow himself to be baited and drove at a measured pace. Even so, the #301 crew set the day’s fastest time.

This brings the pair’s stage win tally to three and means the TGR team head into the final stage with an advantage of 51m 27s over Roma and Haro. Loeb and Elena now find themselves relegated to third, more than two hours behind Al-Attiyah. Interestingly, the top ten now includes four Hilux racers: two from TGR and two private entries.

#301 Hilux: Al-Attiyah / Baumel Win 1 1
#302 Hilux: De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz + 07m 15s 3 8

2019 Dakar Rally: Stage 10

Pisco –  Lima: road section, 247km; special stage, 112km

The final stage of Dakar 2019 drew to a close at the bivouac in Pisco, and the #301 Toyota Hilux of Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel brought their Toyota Hilux home for an historic victory.

Toyota Gazoo Racing has now won both of the world’s toughest automotive races – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Dakar Rally – in less than a year.

Stage 10 was run in reverse order, so Al-Attiyah and Baumel would be the final car to hit the road. The #302 Hilux of de Villiers was made to wait 55 minutes until the leaders started the final stage, so that they could run in close formation with Al-Attiyah. This intentional delay dropped de Villiers one position to ninth place overall, but he still maintained his impressive record of top-10 overall finishes in the event.

Team principal Glyn Hall said: “This victory was long overdue. Winning the Dakar is never easy, there are a lot of people trying. This year’s race was no exception and it brought a rollercoaster of emotions and results for the team.”

Al-Attiyah, now a three-time winner of the gruelling event, said: “We are so happy to win the Dakar – not only for ourselves, but also for Toyota and the entire Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team. Everyone has worked so hard for so long, and really deserve this.”

#301 Hilux: Al-Attiyah / Baumel Win 10 1
#302 Hilux: De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz + 07m 59s 40 9

2019 Dakar Rally: final result

1 Al-Attiyah / Baumel Toyota Win
2 Roma / Haro MINI + 46m 42s
3 Loeb / Elana Peugeot + 1h 54m 18s
4 Przygonski / Colsoul MINI + 2h 28m 31s
5 Despres / Cottet MINI + 2h 48m 43s
6 Prokop / Tamanek Ford + 3h 19m 02s
7 Al Rahji / Gottschalk MINI + 4h 30m 56s
8 Garafulic / Palmeiro MINI + 7h 57m 58s
9 De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz Toyota + 7h 59m 16s
10 Chabot / Pillot Toyota + 8h 09m 58s

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