Fernando Alonso bounces back as fastest TOYOTA GAZOO Racing driver on stage 3 of 2020 Dakar Rally
Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma scored their best-ever Dakar Rally stage result going fourth fastest over the 504-kilometre Stage 3 as the highest placed TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crew. The pair’s trouble-free run in their Toyota Hilux, trailing the leaders by just 6min 14sec, means they were able to leapfrog to 32nd position in the overall standings, 2hrs 40min 24sec behind the leaders, after a disappointing Stage 2.
Fernando and Marc benefitted from a late three minute penalty handed to teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel which saw the them drop from second fastest on the day to fifth. The crew delivered a solid performance on the stage, dropping only 6min 31sec from the leaders after the penalty was applied. Apart from one puncture, the pair made good use of their starting road position to keep their Dakar Rally title defence alive, improving to second place overall with a gap of 7min 55sec.
Giniel de Villiers and navigator Alex Haro had the unenviable task of opening the stage after setting the fastest time on the previous day. The pair tackled Stage 3 as fast as they felt they could over the unknown terrain, losing 16min 21sec to the leaders, dropping one place in the overall standings to seventh with a gap of 23min 42sec.
Two punctures meant Bernhard ten Brinke and navigator Tom Colsoul were 16min 43sec adrift from the leaders. Nevertheless, the pair drove a steady stage to consolidate their overall position despite struggling for visibility in the dust kicked up by the slower cars ahead of them on the stage. The crew increased their overall position to eighth, 33min 23sec behind the leader.
Stage 4 is up next where the rally travels from the future city of Neom on the Red Sea coast to the inland city of Al Ula on a 672-kilometre route which features a special stage of 453 kilometres. The special stage will see crews travel over a combination of gravel and sandy terrain in a more historic part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal: “Today was better for us in terms of fewer punctures. I think the big news of the day was Fernando’s excellent recovery after the time lost on Stage 2; an absolutely amazing performance. For Nasser and Mathieu, it was a day of consolidation even though the conditions weren’t easy by any means and they still suffered one puncture. They’re very much in the game and played it safe crossing the rocky tracks in the mountains. I think losing three minutes [sic before the penalty is applied] in these conditions is not too bad at all.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah (No. 300): “Yes, it was a good day for us and we were really pushing a lot early on during the stage. Unfortunately, we had one puncture after which we decided to take it a bit easier and make sure we get to the end of the stage without problems. I’m quite happy to be in second place overall and everything is going well for us in the Hilux.”
Giniel de Villiers (No. 304): “Today was okay, it was a beautiful stage. In the middle, there was some really stunning scenery. Obviously, we opened today, so it was a bit tricky. We lost some time, but the front runners were really fast today. They passed me at the 300 km mark, and from there I just followed them, and it was easy to follow once we were behind them. We had a good day otherwise, but there’s still a long way to go.”
Bernhard ten Brinke (No. 307): “It was an interesting day for us, starting 15th on the road. There were several slower cars in front of us and after 30 kilometres, we were coming up right behind them in the dust. It took 25 kilometres and, just after we overtook them, we got a puncture so we had to stop to change the wheel. We had to try pass them again in the dust where you simply couldn’t see. We climbed up to eighth place overall and, to be honest, with this starting position, I’m happy with our performance.”
Fernando Alonso (No. 310): “It was a very smooth day for us today with good visibility on the road. We caught all the cars in front of us at the right moments when they had punctures or other problems; so we had some clear track in front of us. It was a truly beautiful stage with amazing scenery but, unfortunately, we were going too fast to really enjoy the view. Overall, I’m happy with our performance today and Marc was again spot on with the navigation.”
2020 Dakar Rally Day 3 Results:
4th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +6min 14sec
5th No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +6min 31sec (incl. penalty: +3min)
9th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +16min 21sec
10th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +16min 43sec
2020 Dakar Rally Overall Results After Day 3:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +7min 55sec (incl. penalty: +3min)
7th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +23min 42sec
8th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +33min 23sec
32nd No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +2hrs 40min 24sec