Another stage win in Argentina for TGR as Nasser and Mathieu edge towards victory
• Victory on Stage 4 for Nasser and Mathieu despite opening the road
• Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ performed flawlessly in the dunes of Fiambala
• Nasser and Mathieu extend their overall lead, with one stage remaining
Opening the road in a rally-raid event is never easy, but on Stage 4 of the Desafio Ruta 40, Round 4 of the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel made it look easy. The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR) crew drove their Dakar-winning GR DKR Hilux T1+ to what seemed like an easy victory, bringing their car home 2min 14sec ahead of the second-placed crew.
Stage 4 of the Desafio Ruta 40 encompassed the fearsome dunes of Fiambala, as part of a 345km-long special stage that started and ended in the bivouac near the Argentine town of Belén. With that said, the crews also had to complete liaisons totalling 234km on the day, bringing the Stage 4 total to 579km.
The crew reported no technical issues with their car on the day, as they powered to the finish in a time of 2hr 57min 41sec. The tricky dunes, strewn with camel grass, has been the scene of many upsets in the past, when it regularly featured on the Dakar Rally. But Nasser is known for his prowess in the dunes, and Stage 4 was no exception. At the same time, the navigation was tricky in the dunes, but Mathieu was equal to the task, safely plotting a route through the white sands of Fiambala.
On the day, Nasser and Mathieu beat fellow Toyota Hilux T1+ driver, Yazeed Al Rahji and co-driver Timo Gottschalk by 2min 14sec, and more than 4min over the third-placed crew. As a result, the TGR crew are now 15min 42sec clear at the head of the field.
With only one stage remaining in the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40, Nasser and Mathieu find themselves in the perfect position. They are more than 15min clear at the head of the field, and have built up a 35-point buffer in the W2RC standings after Stage 4 of Round 4.
Nasser and Mathieu will again open the road, after winning Stage 4. Despite the obvious disadvantage of having to find the route, the crew has shown that they are often able to set highly competitive times, despite their position on the road.
The final stage of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 will take the rally from the area surrounding Belén all the way to the finish in the city of Salta. The special stage will comprise 258km of mixed terrain, with a massive liaison totalling 305km joining the stage to the bivouac and the finish. The race is far from over, thanks to the tough final stage, and the team will remain focused until the flying finish on the outskirts of Salta.
This will bring Round 4 of the 2023 W2RC to a close, with just the final round remaining in Morocco. The Rally of Morocco is scheduled for 12-18 October this year, and serves as the traditional pre-Dakar test session for all the major teams. As such, TGR will be facing stiff competition at the time, but as always the team will be fully prepared and focused on securing the necessary points to secure the W2RC title for a second consecutive year.
Alain Dujardyn, TGR W2RC Team Principal: “The penultimate stage of the Desafio Ruta 40 was a tough one, which could easily have derailed us. But the crew performed perfectly, and our GR DKR Hilux T1+ ran like clockwork. We are pleased with the results, and pleased again to see five Toyota Hilux completing the Top 5 of the race, for a second consecutive day. Now, we have just the final stage to Salta to deal with, but we are confident that both the car and the crew will be up to the task tomorrow.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “We had a good day, despite opening the route. Today we crossed the famous dunes of Fiambala, but we had no problems. Mathieu did a very good job, and the Toyota Hilux performed perfectly. We managed to win the tricky stage, and now we are looking forward to the final stage tomorrow.”
Mathieu Baumel: “Navigating in the big dunes is never easy, but we had a good day today. Nasser drove very well, showing once again that he is at home in the big dunes. Tomorrow, we have one more tough stage to deal with, but we are in a good position and the car has been solid.”
DESAFIO RUTA 40 STAGE 4 RESULTS:
1. N. AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) / M. BAUMEL (FRA), TOYOTA GAZOO RACING, 2:57:41
2. Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) / T. GOTTSCHALK (DEU), OVERDRIVE RACING, +02:14
3. J. YACOPINI (ARG) / D. OLIVERAS (ESP), OVERDRIVE RACING, +04:14
4. S. HALPERN (ARG) / B. GRAUE (ARG), X-RAID MINI, +07:42
5. D. KROTOV (KGZ) / K. ZHILTSOV (ISR), OVERDRIVE RACING, +12:25
DESAFIO RUTA 40 STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 4:
1. N. AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) / M. BAUMEL (FRA), TOYOTA GAZOO RACING , 12:35:59
2. J. YACOPINI (ARG) / D. OLIVERAS (ESP), OVERDRIVE RACING, +15:42
3. Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) / T. GOTTSCHALK (DEU), OVERDRIVE RACING, +20:26
4. E. AMOS (ITA) / P. CECI (ITA), OVERDRIVE RACING, +49:49
5. M. GUTHRIE (USA) / K. WALCH (USA), RED BULL JUNIORS, +51:21
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Two of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing W2RC's key sponsors, Red Bull and Eurol, have committed to share in the team's W2RC journey for 2023, supporting Nasser and Mathieu's efforts through TGR. Eurol is the Dutch developer and producer of lubricants, additives, cleaners, technical fluids and specialty products, available in over 90 countries worldwide. Innovation, quality and sustainability are core values of the Eurol brand. Eurol provides TOYOTA GAZOO Racing with the Eurol Specialty Racing line with SYNGIS Technology, for extreme high-performance levels under all circumstances.
Red Bull has established itself as the premiere supporter of extreme sports and athletes, and as such fits perfectly with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's Dakar and W2RC efforts. The Austrian energy drink manufacturer has partnered with Nasser, Mathieu and TGR over numerous years, and the involvement bore fruit when Nasser and Mathieu won a second Dakar title for TGR in January 2022.
The team is also supported by Jonsson Workwear and USN.