2020 Dakar Rally: a race to the finish in Dakar’s best 4×4

Follow Toyota Gazoo Racing’s 2020 Dakar Rally campaign right here as we publish daily updates to this post. The latest report is always posted at the top of the page.

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 12 final report

Stage 12 saw defending champions Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel finish the iconic race in second place, a little over six minutes behind the winner, Carlos Sainz. However, the pair pushed incredibly hard over this shortened closing stage, recording the fastest time of the day and closing the gap to the overall lead by more than three minutes. Their performance also ensured that the Toyota Hilux retains its status as the best four-wheel drive vehicle in the Dakar Rally.

“We came here to win, so we cannot help but be disappointed with the final result,” summarised team principal Glyn Hall. “Then again, we have three cars in the top ten and finished second after a tough battle. So there’s plenty to be proud of.”

“It was a tough fight,” confirmed Al-Attiyah. “Unfortunately, we lost too much time to punctures, a penalty and one navigational mistake. It cost us the victory but we’ll be back to fight again next year.”

Dakar 2020 also saw Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro record a stage victory. This came early in the race when they powered their Hilux to victory on Stage 2. Their progress was also hampered by multiple punctures, especially in the first week of the rally, but they maintained a top ten position throughout and finished in fifth place in the overall standings.

Bernhard ten Brinke, who had two consecutive retirements from the Dakar Rally in recent events, partnered with Tom Colsoul for 2020 and completed the event in seventh place.

Dakar 2020 was a spectacular effort by Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma, as the duo not only finished the rally but Alonso also attained the highest finish position for a rookie. The pair suffered a setback on Stage 2, losing more than two hours after hitting an unmarked ditch but fought back to a top ten position mid-rally. They again lost time when they rolled on Stage 10 but showed tenacity and determination to not only complete the race but to finish 13th place overall.

“In the end, we brought all four of our cars to the finish without any technical issues,” concluded Hall. “That in itself is a great achievement, especially considering the terrain we had to traverse.”

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 12
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel 01h 17 30s
4 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 03m 25s
7 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 04m 31s
8 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 04m 40s
2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing overall standings
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 06m 21s
5 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 01h 07m 09s
7 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 01h 18m 34s
13 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 04h 42m 47s

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 11 report

The second half of the feared marathon stage saw the crews race from the small overnight bivouac to the relative safety of the main encampment. Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel set a blistering pace over the 379km special stage, trailing the stage winner by just ten seconds and closing the gap to the overall leader to just over ten minutes.

It was a scintillating performance over extremely tricky terrain, including an 80km dune field shortly after the start. Toyota’s leading pair never set a foot wrong and now have one more roll of the dice in their quest for a second successive Dakar win.

“Their chances were dealt a severe blow this afternoon, however,” lamented team principal Glyn Hall. “The organisers were forced to shorten tomorrow’s stage to just 167km due to a problem in one of the areas that the route crosses. So we’ve probably run out of kilometres.”

Should this be the case, Al-Attiyah and Baumel will regret the time lost on Stage 10, which saw them drop 18 minutes in the overall standings due to a navigational error. They also suffered multiple punctures in the opening stages of Dakar 2020 and incurred a 180 second penalty early on.

Fortunately, Stage 11 was a good one for Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul. The pair went fourth fastest on the day and moved up into seventh place overall. Similarly, Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro placed sixth on the stage, which moved them into fifth place overall, yet unlikely to catch the Hilux crew of Yazeed Al-Rajhi in fourth place. At least the positions remain in the Toyota family.

Despite rolling their car in the opening kilometre of Stage 10, Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma fought back bravely to record the eighth best time on Stage 11. The duo are in 13th place after 11 stages and have only one more stage to conquer before completing their first Dakar Rally together.

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 11
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 10s
4 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 10m 14s
6 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 12m 14s
8 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 16m 25s
2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing overall standings
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 10m 17s
5 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 01h 06m 34s
7 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 01h 17m 50s
13 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 04h 43m 18s

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 10 report

The feared marathon stage brought mixed results for Toyota, with Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro placing third after 608km. The racing section was shortened to 230km due to safety reasons but the Hilux crew brought their car to the finish around four-and-a-half minutes behind the stage winner and overall leader. However, their performance was overshadowed by two setbacks for the team.

The first came early in the stage, when Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma rolled their car over a steep dune. The crew was unhurt but the Hilux sustained some damage, including a broken windscreen and bent suspension members.

The duo spent the best part of an hour repairing their car, before setting off on the remainder of the stage without a windscreen. They reached the small overnight bivouac without further incident but lost over an hour and a quarter in the process. And as this was the marathon stage they had to conduct all overnight repairs themselves, though their fellow competitors were allowed to lend a hand and spare parts.

The biggest setback for the team as a whole came when Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel lost nearly 18 minutes after struggling to locate a waypoint, and then taking the wrong route for 20km. By battling on, the pair managed to minimise the time damage but nevertheless lost most of the advantage gained the day before. This means they are now more than 18 minutes back in the overall standings with two stages to go.

Stage 10 also saw Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul complete the stage in sixth place. The affable Dutch driver was disappointed that the stage was shortened as he felt he had more time to gain. “The stage was tricky and dangerous – exactly the type of terrain that the Hilux thrives on. The tougher it is, the better the car gets,” confirmed Ten Brinke.

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 10
3 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 04m 26s
6 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 06m 40s
17 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 17m 46s
56 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 01h 17m 33s
2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing overall standings
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 18m 10s
6 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 01h 02m 23s
7 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 01h 15m 39s
14 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 04h 34m 56s

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 9 report

Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel recorded the second fastest time on Stage 9, surrendering just 15 seconds to the stage winner. In the process of this feat they shaved more than six minutes off their deficit to the race leader, who is now just 24 seconds ahead in the overall standings.

It was always predicted to be a high-speed chase, and that’s exactly what happened. The Toyota driver started the stage as the eleventh car on the road, and used the position to his advantage. At the same time, the race leader lost time early in the stage, first to a puncture and then with navigational problems. This allowed Al-Attiyah and Baumel to close the gap to mere seconds after 35 hours of racing.

“The pace at which Nasser [was] going, is crazy,” said team-mate Giniel de Villiers. “I honestly don’t know how they’re doing it, but I just hope Nasser can keep it up to the finish.”

De Villiers and Alex Haro posted the eighth fastest time and remain in sixth place overall. Meanwhile, teammates Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul went seventh fastest and moved up to seventh place in the overall standings.

In the fourth Hilux, Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma started second thanks to their great performance in Stage 8 but were soon forced to open the road after the day’s front-runner ran into difficulties early in the stage. While Coma has plenty of experience in finding the route, this was a new experience for Alonso. However the pair powered through the stage without any problems and recorded the ninth best time of the day.

This performance elevated the Spanish duo to tenth place in the overall standings, which makes Alonso the best-performing rookie so far this year and also means that all four Toyota Gazoo Racing cars are now in the top ten in preparation for tomorrow’s feared Marathon Stage.

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 9
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 15s
7 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 08m 30s
8 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 11m 16s
9 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 13m 03s
2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing overall standings
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 24s
6 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 57m 57s
7 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 01h 08m 59s
10 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 03h 17m 23s

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 8 report

Today brought mixed results. A clear highlight was the pace of Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma, who finished second on the 716km stage just over four minutes behind the winner’s buggy. It was a powerful performance by the Spanish duo, though they remain outside the top ten in 13th position.

The stage also brought a return to form for Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro, who were fourth fastest despite the route clearly suiting the two-wheel drive cars. “The changes made to the aerodynamics of our cars certainly helped,” said De Villiers. “The buggies are still faster but the changes allowed us to stay in touch.”

The 477km racing section brought a long day in the hot seat for the car competitors, with the leaders having to pick their own way through the landscape. Following the tragic accident the day before, the stage was cancelled for bike and quad competitors. This meant yesterday’s winner had to open the road without the benefit of motorcycle tracks to follow. He soon fell foul of the dunes.

This allowed Al-Attiyah and Baumel through, but Toyota’s own King of the Dunes also got stuck in the soft sand, losing the best part of three minutes as a result. The chasing pack were therefore able to catch up, trading places at the head of the field throughout the stage. Despite these difficulties, Nasser was still able to make up nearly four minutes on the lead.

Meanwhile, Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul battled against potential disaster. A rock punctured their right front tyre but then continued its destructive journey through a chassis member and knocked a hole in the Hilux’s dry sump. The pair were forced to stop in order to change the tyre but elected to push on despite the leaking oil reserve. Fortunately, they made it safely to the end of the stage and still posted the seventh fastest time of the day.

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 8
2 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 04m 04s
4 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 06m 29s
7 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 10m 19s
11 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 15m 05s
2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing overall standings
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 06m 40s
6 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 53m 12s
8 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 01h 07m 00s
13 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 03h 10m 51s

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 7 report

With the rest day behind them, the crews faced the longest stage of the event, between the Saudi capital of Riyadh and the town of Wadi Al Dawasir to the south. It ran over a distance of 546km, and while some small dunes allowed the Hilux crews to attack in the first section, the 250km of the latter half  was flat-out racing, which favoured two-wheel drive competitors.

De Villiers injured his neck during Stage 5 of the rally, which caused pain and discomfort during this longest stage of the race. However, the South African still recognised that “we really need some more technical terrain, so that we can use the Toyota’s four-wheel-drive abilities to attack.”

Those sentiments were echoed by teammates Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel, who used the dunes at the start of the stage to their benefit. The pair quickly moved into the lead on the stage, showing the prowess of the Hilux before surrendering their advantage when the stage opened up.

Interestingly, modifications were made to the aerodynamic package of Bernhard ten Brinke’s Hilux during the rest day. These clearly paid off, as Bernhard and Tom came home just 46 seconds behind Nasser and Mathieu. So the same measures will be replicated on the rest of the crews for the remainder of the rally.

Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma had a good run, despite suffering a delaminated tyre that cost them 90 seconds. They recorded the sixth fastest time on the day, which was enough to move up to 14th in the overall rankings. This places all four Toyota Gazoo Racing crews inside the top 15, with five stages to go.

Unfortunately, Stage 7 was marred by the death of motorcyclist Paulo Gonçalves after a heavy crash. The 40-year-old Portuguese racer had taken part in the Dakar Rally since 2006 and recorded four top ten finishes. Toyota Gazoo Racing extends sincere condolences to Paulo’s family and friends.

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 7
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 02m 12s
4 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 02m 58s
6 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 07m 49s
7 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 10m 19s
2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing overall standings
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 10m 00s
6 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 01h 05m 58s
7 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 01h 15m 56s
14 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 03h 26m 02s

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 6 report

Today saw all four Toyota Gazoo Racing crews finish in the top ten, with Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel setting a time a little over three minutes behind the stage winner, despite suffering a mid-stage puncture that cost them 90 seconds and losing out in terms of top speed. This leaves the pair in second place overall at the mid-point of the race.

The 477km stage featured dunes and high-speed sections that best suited the two-wheel-drive buggies. Even so, all four Hilux crews set respectable times. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the performance of Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma, who were the second-fastest of the factory crews and came sixth on the stage.

Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul were seventh fastest as they benefited from a number of tweaks to their suspension set-up. Ten Brinke has also recovered from the flu that held him back over the last two stages, and the pair remain in eighth place in the overall standings.

It was a disappointing day for Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Alex Haro. While the duo reported a clean run through the long stage, they found it challenging to match the pace of the front-runners. They are still in seventh overall.

“We were hoping for more dunes today,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “As it turned out, the buggies had a clear advantage over the fast terrain, and while Giniel tried his best to push, he just couldn’t quite stay in touch with the leading pack.”

The end of Stage 6 marked the mid-point of the race and the traditional rest day. This is an opportunity for the race crews to relax, while the technical crews strip and rebuild the race cars in preparation for the second week.

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 6
3 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 03m 22s
6 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 07m 56s
7 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 09m 37s
8 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 10m 48s
2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing overall standings
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 07m 48s
7 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 55m 41s
8 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 01h 12m 58s
16 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 03h 18m 13s

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 5 report

Stage 5 saw the four Toyota Gazoo Racing crews maintain their overall positions. Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel were again the fastest of the foursome, setting the second-fastest time on the stage. They remain in second place, however, now just under six minutes behind first place in the overall standings.

This comes after a tough stage, where the pair started as the second car but soon inherited the lead when the Stage 4 winner pulled over to replace a punctured tyre. The result was that the Hilux crew effectively opened the road for the bulk of the stage. They also had to nurse a slow puncture over the closing 50km, accounting for some of the time they lost.

Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro finished Stage 5 as the sixth fastest crew. They remain in seventh place as a result. “The first part of the stage was quite fast but then we reached a rocky section where we slowed down to avoid more punctures,” said De Villiers. “I might have taken it too easy in that section but after all the punctures we’ve had to deal with, we decided that caution was the better part of valour.”

Unfortunately, further time was lost in the closing kilometres, when De Villiers tweaked his neck on a rough landing. The injury was not serious but the crew decided to slow down in order to minimise pain for the driver.

Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma had a good stage, going seventh fastest. They suffered two punctures yet managed to bring their Hilux home just 34 seconds behind De Villiers and Haro.

Navigation played a key role in the outcome for Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul. The pair posted highly competitive times over the first section but then lost time searching for a waypoint. In the end, they lost more than 20 minutes on the stage but retained their eighth spot in the overall standings.

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 5
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 02m 56s
6 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 11m 46s
7 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 12m 23s
12 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 20m 14s
2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing overall standings
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 05m 59s
7 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 46m 26s
8 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 01h 04m 54s
18 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 03h 11m 50s

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 4 report

Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel recorded a clean, puncture-free run through Stage 4 with the Hilux performing perfectly. This result inched the pair ever closer to the lead team a little over three minutes ahead, despite them receiving a three-minute penalty the day before.

Punctures, however, were at the order of the day for the rest of the Toyota Gazoo Raciing crews. Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro went sixth fastest but suffered three blow-outs – two of them coming within 100m of each other. “It was just one of those days,” said Giniel. “We had good pace when we were going, but the punctures really put us on the back foot. We had to drive the last 100km without a spare, so we couldn’t take any chances.”

There were also puncture interruptions for Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul, who exited the stage with one tyre worn down to the wheel rim. Ten Brinke was also fighting a bout of flu and a troublesome gearbox yet managed to post the seventh fastest time on the day. They are now in eighth place overall.

Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma suffered three punctures and therefore had to negotiate the last 200km of the stage without any spare wheels. It was nerve-racking end to an otherwise good stage, which saw them finish 26min 21sec behind the stage winners. However, they remained upbeat after completing yet another Dakar stage.

“Overall, it was a good day for us,” concluded Hall. “Nasser did a great job of making up time without any punctures; while the rest of the crews managed to restrict their time loss despite struggling with flat tyres.”

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 4
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 2m 26s
6 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 18m 16s
8 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 18m 35s
13 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 26m 21s
2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing overall standings
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 03m 03s
7 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 34m 40s
8 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 44m 40s
20 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 02h 59m 27s

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 3 report

It was a day of consolidation for Nasser al Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel, who posted the second-fastest time through spectacular scenery along the Red Sea coast. The pair only suffered a single puncture, however their performance was most tempered by a post-stage penalty. This was due to an infringement at one of the speed control zones. It saw the crew drop to fifth on the stage but they still remain second overall.

The stage was opened by Stage 2 winners Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro. Picking their way more slowly through the tricky, rock-strewn landscape, the pair managed to clear the stage without any punctures but dropped 16m 21sec on the day. This left them in seventh place overall, with plenty of racing to come.

Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul were hampered by their starting position, a result of finishing 15th on Stage 2. This put them among some slower competitors, losing time in the dust. They also suffered two flats but managed to restrict their time loss for the day to 16m 43sec. As things stand, the pair are in eighth place overall standings and are upbeat about their chances going forward.

Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma had a spectacular day. The Spanish duo were fourth fastest, and even though they remain well out of contention overall, the former F1 champion was excited by a good day in the Toyota Hilux.

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 3
4 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 06m 14s
5 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 06m 31s
9 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 16m 21s
10 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 16m 43s
2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing overall standings
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 07m 55s
7 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 23m 42s
8 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 33m 23s
30 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 02h 40m 24s

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 2 report

Toyota Gazoo Racing won Stage 2 thanks to a perfect (and generous) performance by Giniel de Villiers, co-driver Alex Haro and their Toyota Hilux. Despite setting off as the 14th car on the road, they set the fastest time of the day and accelerated up the overall standings to sixth position.

But outright pace wasn’t everything. Towards the end of the 400km route they stopped briefly to donate a spare wheel to team-mates Ten Brinke and Baumel, who had been hamstrung by four punctures. “I’m very grateful,” said Ten Brinke from the bivouac at Neom. “If it wasn’t for Giniel and Alex, we might not have made it home at all.”

Team-mates Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel also suffered a couple of punctures and finished the day fifth fastest. Yet the defending champions remained resolutely upbeat about their further chances thanks to a commanding third position overall.

But it was a day of highs and lows for Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma. The Spanish duo started on a high, posting highly competitive times in the early parts of the stage. Then they lost the left front wheel of their Hilux after making contact with a rock, and lost hours making running repairs. In the end, Stage 2 set them back a couple of hours and they now find themselves in 48th place in the overall standings.

“It was a disappointing end to the stage for Fernando and Marc,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “They were really quick early on but unfortunately the results won’t show that. Still, they came through in the end, and while we were hoping to keep them up the order, we’re confident that Fernando will still make it to the end of the race.”

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 2
1 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro 03h 37m 20s
5 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 11m 46s
15 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 26m 05s
63 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 2h 34m 38s
2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing overall standings
3 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 06m 07s
6 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 12m 04s
10 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 21m 23s
48 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 02h 38m 53s

2020 Dakar Rally: Stage 1 report

It was a tough opening stage at the the 2020 Dakar Rally for Toyota Gazoo Racing, as a total of 11 punctures hamstrung the four Hilux crews.

Defending champions Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel set the early pace, but three punctures just 100km from the end of the 319km special stage dropped the pair to fourth position.

“It was a disappointing end to a fantastic stage for Nasser and Mathieu,” commented team principal Glyn Hall. “They set the pace from the get-go and were on for an emphatic victory. But then fate intervened. And as a result they’ll have a bit of a fight on their hands for the next few days.”

Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro suffered four punctures during the stage and stopped three times to change wheels. The final puncture was a slow leak, so the pair managed to get to the finish using the on-board inflation system. These interruptions set the crew back, and they ended the day in 14th place.

2020 Dakar Rally

Team-mates Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul suffered half as many punctures during the stage and were therefore able to post a relatively clean run. The flying Dutchman posted fifth position on the opening stage, and praised the performance of the Hilux.

Similarly, the Spanish duo of Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma had two punctures, and lost additional time due to some navigation problems. Beyond these teething issues, the pair sailed through their maiden Dakar stage and are ready to tackle Stage 2.

2020 Dakar Rally

This next stage includes a 367km special stage between the cities of Al Wajh and Neom, on Saudi Arabia’s western coast. The terrain along the Red Sea promises more hard-packed and rocky tracks, which could play havoc with the tyres again.

2020 Dakar Rally – Toyota Gazoo Racing positions after Stage 1
4 Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel + 05m 33s
5 Bernhard ten Brinke / Tom Colsoul + 06m 30s
11 Fernando Alonso / Marc Coma + 15m 27s
14 Giniel de Villiers / Alex Haro + 23m 16s

2020 Dakar Rally: event preview

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s four-car crew line-up has been confirmed. The latest version of the specially prepared, rally raid Hilux is primed and ready to go. The team is now waiting for 5 January, when the flag will drop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the start of the gruelling 2020 Dakar Rally.

2020 Dakar Rally: preparations

As the defending champion and odds-on favourite, Toyota is under pressure to repeat last year’s conquering performance. Spearheading the attack for 2020 is a team line-up with unprecedented experience. Three of the crews are Dakar veterans, while the crew in the fourth car will arguably draw the most attention thanks to its all-star pairing of F1 legend Fernando Alonso (right) with multiple Dakar winner Marc Coma (left).

Dakar

The 2020 version of the Dakar-winning Hilux features numerous incremental improvements over last year’s car, but retains the same suspension geometry and engine layout. A strict training programme of international cross-country rallies and local testing near the team’s South Africa base has ensured that Toyota Gazoo Racing is fielding the best Hilux the championship has ever seen.

Interestingly, this year’s switch from South America to Saudi Arabia will level the playing field as altitude performance will no longer have a bearing on the race. Dense, oxygen-rich air will therefore help the naturally aspirated V8 installed in the Hilux to breathe more easily.

“With that said,” countered team principal Glyn Hall, “the engine’s abilities will still largely be determined by the size of the intake air restrictor, which has been limited to 37mm for the 2020 Dakar Rally. The purpose of the restrictor is to help the organisers balance the power output of the various engines in the race, and while we’d always prefer a larger restrictor, at least we won’t have to deal with the complexities of extreme altitudes this year.”

2020 Dakar Rally: the route

Dakar

Hosted entirely in Saudi Arabia this year, the 2020 Dakar Rally starts in the coastal city of Jeddah. The 8,000km race consists of 12 stages plus one rest day, and covers a variety of terrain types, including mountains, river beds and sand dunes.

2020 Dakar Rally schedule and route
Date Stage number/name Distance (overall/competitive)
05/01/20 Stage 1: Jeddah – Al Wajh 752km / 319km
06/01/20 Stage 2: Al Wajh – Neom 401km / 367km
07/01/20 Stage 3: Neom – Neom 489km / 404km
08/01/20 Stage 4: Neom – Al Ula 676km / 453km
09/01/20 Stage 5: Al Aula – Ha’il 563km / 353km
10/01/20 Stage 6: Ha’il – Riyadh 830km / 478km
11/01/20 Rest Day, Riyadh
12/01/20 Stage 7: Riyadh – Wadi Al-Dawasir 741km / 546km
13/01/20 Stage 8: Wadi Al-Dawasir – Wadi Al-Dawasir 741km / 546km
14/01/20 Stage 9: Wadi Al-Dawasir – Haradh 891km / 415km
15/01/20 Stage 10: Haradh – Shubaytah 608km / 534km
16/01/20 Stage 11: Shubaytah – Haradh 744km / 379km
17/01/20 Stage 12: Haradh – Qiddiyah 447km / 373km

Stage one is scheduled to start on Sunday 5 January, after which the race winds its way northwards to the city of Neom. It then heads inland along a southerly course that takes the competitors to Saudi’s Empty Quarter for the second week of the race. The event will draw to a close near the capital city of Riyadh on Friday 17 January.

2020 Dakar Rally: follow the action

This blog page will be updated throughout the event, so check back regularly for the latest developments and to watch video highlights.

You can also follow the event on Instagram (@TGRSA), Facebook (TGRSouthAfrica) and Twitter (@TGRSouth Africa), or via the official Dakar Rally app, which can be downloaded for free from either iTunes or the Google Play store.

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