All four TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crews complete longest stage of Dakar 2020
All four TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crews completed the seventh stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally which saw crews take on a gruelling 546-kilometre special stage across varied terrain littered with sand dunes from Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir. Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel again set the fastest time for the team just 2min 12sec behind the stage winners, maintaining their second place in the overall rankings with a gap of ten minutes. While the stage started with small dunes, the crew’s initial charge was hamstrung by the fast tracks which favoured their two-wheel-drive competitors.
The day was marked by the sad passing of Portuguese motorcyclist and 2013 FIM Cross-Country World Champion, Paulo Gonçalves. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing joins the Dakar Rally family in mourning Paulo’s passing and extends its sincerest condolences to his family, friends and teammates at Hero Motosports Team Rally.
Stage 7 proved challenging for Giniel de Villiers and navigator Alex Haro. The neck injury Giniel picked up during Stage 5 is still causing him pain, exacerbated by the long distance endurance stage. Nevertheless, the pair attempted to push whenever possible, although also feeling the effects of the lack of top-end speed compared to their competitors in buggies. They brought their Hilux home 10th fastest on the stage, but moved up to sixth place overall with a lead gap of 1hr 5min 58sec.
Small aerodynamic modifications on Bernhard ten Brinke and navigator Tom Colsoul’s Hilux during the Rest Day allowed the crew to stay in touch with the leaders. The pair posted the fourth fastest time on the stage, trailing Nasser and Mathieu by just 46 seconds. The crew now moves up to seventh in the overall standings, 1hr 15min 56sec behind the leaders.
Fernando Alonso and navigator Marc Coma delivered another strong and consistent performance to finish sixth fastest on the longest stage of the event, despite losing time when one of their tyres delaminated. The pair lost the best part of 1min 30sec to stop and change the wheel. They crossed the finish line just 7min 49sec behind the stage winners and moved up two places to 14th in the overall standings which means that all four TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crews are now in the Top 15 with five stages to go.
Stage 8 is the second of two looped stages at the 2020 edition of the Dakar Rally which will start and end near Wadi Al Dawasir where the bivouac is located. The 716-kilometre route includes a special stage of 477 kilometres across mountainous landscapes and canyons. A 40-kilometre straight stretch will once again disadvantage the Hilux but TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has adapted the aerodynamics of the cars for the remainder of the race to compensate.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal: “Today was a sad day for the entire Dakar fraternity with the passing of Paulo Gonçalves after a crash in the stage. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. As for our own team, we have four cars in the Top 8 of the stage. Bernhard had a great, great run today; but unfortunately, we only managed to beat one of our nearest competitors, not both. Unexpectedly, the stage didn’t suit us, as we were told that it would be more technical today. Turns out it was nearly 250 kilometres of flat out racing, so maybe we managed to limit the damage in terms of time loss.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah (No. 300): “Today was a really fast stage and we went at our maximum pace. In the end, the only difference between the cars was the difference in the top speed, which meant that we couldn’t do anything to attack today. But we still have five days left and we’ll never give up. I’ll continue doing my best to win this race again.”
Giniel de Villiers (No. 304): “We were a little bit off the pace today but I’m having a problem with my neck after the hard landing we had on Stage 5. So every time we take a hit, there’s a bit of pain, but we’ll see what the physio can do here at the bivouac. Hopefully he can put things back in line, but we’ll just have to live with it. Today was a very, very fast stage with very little lifting of the throttle. The average speed was almost 130km/h which is extremely fast.”
Bernhard ten Brinke (No. 307): “Today was quite a good stage. We started in P7, behind Fernando and with Giniel behind us. We pushed quite hard and, in the dunes, we had to dig deep to keep up with the pace. In the second part of the stage, we pushed really hard and we made up some time; but the third part was very high speed and it was a little monotonous. Tom made no mistakes and we finished the stage in the fourth-fastest time.”
Fernando Alonso (No. 310): “Today is definitely one no one wants to experience in any motorsport race with the sad and shocking news of Paulo’s passing. We would like to send our condolences to his family and friends. We had a tyre delamination at around 250-260 kilometres which damaged the rear left bodywork; as a result, our top speed was limited. I think we were quite competitive today; we were looking good for a Top 3 or Top 4 finish. The stage was a bit unexpected as we were in sixth gear and flat out, just seeing the kilometres ticking away. If we knew in advance about today’s stage, we could’ve probably tweaked our set up to get more top speed out of the Hilux. We’ll take the lessons from today into the final stages of the race.”
2020 Dakar Rally Day 7 Results:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +2min 12sec
4th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +2min 58sec
6th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +7min 49sec
7th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +10min 19sec
2020 Dakar Rally Overall Results After Day 7:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +10min 00sec
6th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +1hrs 5min 58sec
7th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +1hr 15min 56sec
14th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +3hrs 26min 02sec
Copyright-free, high-resolution images can be found at https://www.tgr-dam.com
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing official website: http://toyotagazooracing.com/