Köln, Germany,
20
January
2024
|
08:09
Europe/Amsterdam

Dakar rookie shines for TGR; solid result for Toyota

Summary
  • Guy Botterill crowned as leading Rookie for Dakar 2024
  • Three TGR crews in overall Top 10
  • Six Toyota Hilux in overall Top 10

Dakar 2024 proved a tough test for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, who has embarked on a journey to uncover and nurture new talent, in the exciting world of rally-raid racing. As part of its commitment to this cause, the team fielded four new drivers in its five-car line-up for Dakar 2024, with the two rookie drivers clearly showing their potential throughout the event. At the same time, Toyota as a brand was well-represented by privateers, bolstering the manufacturer's results to six cars in the Top 10, despite extremely tough conditions.

TGR fielded its latest GR DKR Hilux T1U for Dakar 2024, and the new car has proven highly reliable, durable and fast. As an evolution of the car that won the Dakar Rally, as well as the W2RC during both 2022 and 2023, there were high expectations for the new car, but all five of the team's race crews were highly impressed by the new machine.

With that said, the conditions encountered at Dakar 2024 tested the crews and cars to the limit. Each of the crews encountered challenges along the way, but remarkably it was one of the two rookie drivers, Guy Botterill, who managed his way through the race in the best position. The South African former rally driver consistently finished in or near the Top 10 daily, eventually attaining sixth place in the overall standings. This was a stunning opening salvo by the newcomer, who was partnered with the experienced co-driver, Brett Cummings.

Next-fastest for TGR was Dakar veteran Giniel de Villiers and co-driver, Dennis Murphy. The pair showed early pace, but a series of navigational problems, coupled with a raft of punctures, dropped them down the order. In the end, they finished in 7th overall.

Dakar 2024 was a particularly harsh one for Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon. The pair were near-perfect throughout the bulk of the event, working their way up into a solid third position in the overall rankings, and winning Stage 3 of the event outright. Then, with just two stages to go, one of the competitors ahead of them ran into trouble, promoting the TGR crew to second overall - only for them to tumble down the order again, when they themselves encountered technical difficulties. By the time the final stage drew to a close in Yanbu, on the Saudi Arabian coast, Lucas and Armand had dropped to 9th overall - still a fantastic result, but somewhat disappointing after the giddy highs of a podium position.

Saood Variawa was another rookie entry for the team, and, partnered with Francois Cazalet, the 18-year-old works driver took on his first Dakar Rally. The pair faced a variety of problems early in the rally but found consistent form in the second week of the event. They powered their GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U to a 16th place in the overall standings, and may well have recorded a better result, had they found their form earlier in the rally.

For Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz, Dakar 2024 brought bitter disappointment. The young man from California and his German co-driver showed early pace, but unfortunately hit a rock during Stage 4 of the event. This forced the team to change the twin-turbo V6 engine in his car, which incurred a massive penalty, effectively side-lining the pair. They fought back bravely, with the aim of securing points towards the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), but also fulfilled a role as water carrier for the team. As a result, they were unable to turn their pace into points, and eventually had to settle for 42nd place overall.

Three TGR crews attained positions in the Top 10 by the end of Dakar 2024, but these numbers were bolstered by Guillaume de Mevius, who finished in 2nd place in his privately-entered Toyota Hilux. His teammate, Guerlain Chicherit finished in 4th place, whule Benediktas Vanagas brought his TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Baltics Hilux home in 8th place. This brought the total number of Toyota Hiluxes in the Top 10 to 6 cars, with one car on the podium and two cars in the Top 5.

In terms of the W2RC, Lucas Moraes is in 4th place after the Dakar Rally, which was Round 1 of the 2024 season. Saood Variawa is in 11th place, while Seth Quintero is in 19th. The season continues with Round 2, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which starts in just over a month's time.

 

QUOTES:

Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: 

"Dakar 2024 is over, and as you know, we've had our ups and we've had our downs. Unfortunately, you've got to take it up and down and take the good with the bad. It's been a tough journey. It's been challenging. Unfortunately, we lost the podium finish yesterday on Stage 11. But you know what? We'll just  keep on going and be stronger."

Alain Dujardyn, W2RC Team Principal: 

"Yes, this was quite an epic Dakar 2024. Important for us of course, because we started a brand-new journey with young talent, and teaming up together with our partner TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa. Five cars in this Dakar, and all of them finished. Quite an epic fight, though we are obviously quite disappointed about the developments yesterday, on the penultimate stage. But on the other hand, when we lost our P2 position, we also regained the P2 position because we have to congratulate Guillaume de Mevius, who made it as a rookie to the podium in a privately entered Toyota Hilux, similar to Lucas Moraes last year. So, it shows that in this Dakar, even the established top drivers can be challenged by other drivers which are new to the Dakar journey. The statistics are incredible, because in the overall standings all the five Gazoo Racing cars finished, but the end result is one Toyota Hilux in the top three, two Toyota Hiluxes in the top five and six Toyota Hiluxes in the top ten. So, a remarkable achievement for the Toyota brand and a testimony of the quality, the durability and the reliability of our race cars."

Guy Botterill: 

"Unbelievable. We got a puncture quite early on in today's stage, so we had to take it easy. Brett was unbelievable throughout the race. I can't believe we got to the end, and to be in the top 10 and to be sixth is unbelievable."

Giniel de Villiers: 

"It's obviously not really the way we wanted it, but we're here, we finished. Thanks to the team, they did a great job. So yeah, we're happy to be here. Another one done. Thanks also to Dennis, as well and all our mechanics that worked on the car. It was certainly a very tough one this year, but we're very happy to be at the finish."

Saood Variawa: 

"It's unbelievable! I think it's 4,500km of pure racing. Super, super tough. Really, really the toughest race in the world. I didn't expect anything like this, but we made it to the finish. I did what I was supposed to do. The orders I was given was to finish, and that's what I did. And a few good stages with it. To be 18 and finishing the Dakar in a factory team is really incredible. And I just want to say thank you to the team, thank you to Toyota for the opportunity, and thank you to my co-driver and my family."

Lucas Moraes: 

"To be honest, when I look back, if you think that I'm gonna be top 10 on my second Dakar, it's still unbelievable. Of course, after last year's third place, you always want to improve. As when you put the helmet on, you just go flat out. Today, we were disappointed with the dust, but we enjoyed the stage a lot. We pushed a lot. Overall, we are happy to finish. Thanks to the whole TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team for the amazing job; all the sponsors, SpeedMax and all the media. As well as all the fans in Brazil."

Seth Quintero: 

"It was definitely a tough rally, and it's not the way we wanted to go. But in hindsight, we learned a lot. We did a lot. We did a lot of testing, a lot of development, and had a lot of fun. But overall, I had a great time. And I can't wait for the next race. I can't wait for the next Dakar."

 

DAKAR 2024 - STAGE 12 RESULTS

1.#211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq (Overdrive Racing)04h 43min 00sec
2.#221G. de Mevius / X. Panseri (Overdrive Racing)+05:32
3.#204C. Sainz / L. Cruz (Team Audi Sport) +05:35
4.#207M. Ekstrom / E. Berg (Team Audi Sport)                +09:46
5.#226S. Variawa / F. Cazalet (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +12:37
6.#220C. Lavieille / V. Sarreaud    (MD Rallye Sport)                 +15:06
7.#205J. Yacopini / D. Oliveras Carreras (Overdrive Racing)+15:23
8.#214V. Zala / P. Fiuza(X-Raid Arijus Team)+15:38
9.#210N. Roma / A. Haro Bravo(Ford M-Sport)+17:51
10.#243G. Botterill / B. Cummings (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +22:40
22.#209G. De Villiers / D. Murphy (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +39:24
45.#206L. Moraes / A. Monleon (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +02:09:33
48.#216S. Quintero / D. Zenz          (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +02:20:34

 

DAKAR 2024 - STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 12

1.#204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz (Team Audi Sport) 48h 15min 18sec
2.#221G. de Mevius / X. Panseri (Overdrive Racing)               +01:20:25
3.#203S. Loeb / F. Lurquin              (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) +01:25:12
4.#211G. Chicherit / A. Winocq (Overdrive Racing)               +01:35:59
5.#208M. Prokop / V. Chytka         (Orlen Jipocar Team)           +02:16:43
6.#243G. Botterill / B. Cummings (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +02:40:33
7.#209G. De Villiers / D. Murphy (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +02:50:26
8.#223B. Vanagas / K. Sikk(Toyota GAZOO Racing Baltics)+02:57:17
9.#206L. Moraes / A. Monleon (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +03:03:12
10.#212M. Serradori / L. Minaudier                (Century Racing Factory Team)+03:04:12
16.#226S. Variawa / F. Cazalet (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +05:54:41
42.#216S. Quintero / D. Zenz (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +69:04:43

 

WORLD RALLY-RAID RESULTS AFTER STAGE 12

1.C. SainzTeam Audi Sport76
2.G. de MeviusOverdrive Racing58
3.G. ChicheritOverdrive Racing56
4.L. Moraes Toyota GAZOO Racing40
5.M. Serradori Century Racing Factory Team            32
6.M. Prokop               Orlen Benzina Team            27
7.D. Krotov                 Overdrive Racing18
8.N. Al-Attiyah          Prodrive18
9.C. BaumgartX-Rally Team         16
10.M. Ekstrom            Team Audi Sport15
11.S. Variawa              Toyota GAZOO Racing14
29.S. QuinteroToyota GAZOO Racing5

 

Partners

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 TGR over numerous years, and the involvement bore fruit when the team won a second Dakar title in January 2022, and a third in 2023.

SpeedMax is a CantuStore's private label, which is the largest omnichannel platform and leader in tire replacement market in Brazil. SpeedMax promotes maximum performance through high-performance tires that suit all types of vehicles, from passenger cars to trucks and tractors, as well as inner tubes and truck wheels.

The team is also supported by Innovation Group Services, Toyota Financial Services, Toyota Genuine Motor Oil, Eurol, Repsol Renewable Fuels, BF Goodrich, Sparco, Maxion Wheels and Kinto. SVR is supported by Jonsson Workwear, USN and Ingco.