Henk and Brett end their first ADDC with a stage victory
• 1st place on Stage 5 for Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings
• Week of learning for the ADDC debutants
• Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel to return to W2RC action in Mexico
Had they not withdrawn from Stage 2 of the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge due to a boost-related issue, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings may well have found themselves in contention for overall victory – especially given their stage win on the final test of the 5-stage event. Even so, the crew gained a lot of experience in Abu Dhabi, which is certain to assist them in their future races.
The final stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge stretched between the Qasr Al Sarab bivouac and Abu Dhabi city. There were liaisons of 29km and 135km before and after the special, but it was the timed section that saw the GR DKR Hilux T1+ crew shine. The TGR crew needed only 2hr 36min 11sec to complete the stage, giving them a winning margin of 2min 2sec over the next-fastest crew.
It was a rollercoaster week for the South Africans, who opened their account with a third place on Stage 1. An unfortunate issue related to the turbo boost of their car forced them to withdraw from Stage 2 of the event, taking them out of contention in the overall standings. They bounced back in Stage 3 with another third place, before going one better to secure second place in Stage 4. This was followed up with a win on the final stage of the event.
Teammates and defending World Rally-Raid Champions, Nasser and Mathieu, started the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on charge. They won the Prologue, and followed this up with a stunning win on the opening stage of the event. They added another win on Stage 2, before a rollover near the end of Stage 3 – which they had been leading up until that point – brought their charge to a halt. This was a bitter blow for the crew, but they will be back to continue the defence of their title at Round 3 of the 2023 W2RC.
While Nasser relinquished his lead in the W2RC standings after withdrawing from the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing as a manufacturer earned meaningful points, thanks in part to the efforts of its privately entered partners. As a result, TGR is on 120 points after two rounds, 41 points clear of its nearest competitor. Nasser and Mathieu are now 16 points adrift in the driver’s and co-driver’s championships, and will be aiming to maximise on their scoring opportunities at the next round.
Round 3 is scheduled for 22 to 28 April, at the Sonora Rally in Mexico. This will be followed by the Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina, and the season-closing Rally of Morocco, which will take place in October this year. Nasser and Mathieu won both the Dakar Rally and the W2RC title in 2022, and will be hoping to replicate their success in 2023, after already claiming victory at this year’s Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
Alain Dujardyn, TGR W2RC Team Principal: “A great final effort from Henk and Brett showed their true pace, and they reaped the reward for their continued effort. Overall, the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge did not yield the result we had hoped for from Nasser and Mathieu, but they will be back in the fight at Round 3, the Sonora Rally in Mexico. As for Henk and Brett, they learnt a lot from their experience here in Abu Dhabi, and we are encouraged by their overall pace.”
Glyn Hall, TGR Dakar Team Principal: “Henk and Brett have proven themselves as tough competitors in the past, but winning the final stage of this tough race underlines their abilities. I’m also encouraged by the near-faultless performance of our GR DKR Hilux T1+, with the boost-related issue that hampered Henk and Brett’s progress in Stage 2, the only blot on its otherwise perfect record this week.”
Henk Lategan: “I certainly learnt a lot this week! The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge truly is a tough event, with many pitfalls that can catch you out without any notice. We were unfortunate to have had to withdraw from Stage 2 of the event, otherwise the results may well have looked different. Even so, we’ve recorded a number of podium finishes in the other stages, and I’m elated about our stage win in today’s final stage of the event.”
STAGE 5 RESULTS:
|1||H. LATEGAN (ZAF) / B. CUMMINGS (ZAF)||#211 – TOYOTA GAZOO RACING|
|2||S. LOEB (FRA) /F. LURQUIN (BEL)||#200 – BAHRAIN RAID XTREME|
|3||S. HALPERN (ARG) / B. GRAUE (ARG)||#205 – X-RAID MINI JCW TEAM|
|4||M. GUTHRIE (USA) / K. WALCH (USA)||#302 - RED BULL OFF-ROAD JUNIOR TEAM USA|
|5||J. YACOPINI (ARG) / D. OLIVERAS (ESP)||#204 - OVERDRIVE RACING|
|S. LOEB (FRA) /F. LURQUIN (BEL)||#200 – BAHRAIN RAID XTREME|
STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 5:
|1||Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) / T. GOTTSCHALK (DEU)||#207 - OVERDRIVE RACING|
|2||M. PROKOP (CZE) / V. CHYTKA (CZE)||#203 - ORLEN BENZINA TEAM|
|3||S. QUINTERO (USA) / D. ZENZ (DEU)||#302 - RED BULL OFF-ROAD JUNIOR TEAM USA|
|4||J. YACOPINI (ARG) / D. OLIVERAS (ESP)||#204 - OVERDRIVE RACING|
|5||S. HALPERN (ARG) / B. GRAUE (ARG)||#205 – X-RAID MINI JCW TEAM|
|28||H. LATEGAN (ZAF) / B. CUMMINGS (ZAF)||#211 – TOYOTA GAZOO RACING|
W2RC DRIVER STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 2:
1. S. LOEB (FRA), BAHRAIN RAID XTREME - 101
2. N. AL-ATTIYAH (QAT), TOYOTA GAZOO RACING - 85
3. M. PROKOP (CZE), ORLEN BENZINA TEAM - 64
4. Y. AL RAJHI (SAU), OVERDRIVE RACING - 63
5. J. YACOPINI (ARG), OVERDRIVE RACING - 49
W2RC MANUFACTURER STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 2:
1. TOYOTA GAZOO RACING - 120
2. BAHRAIN RAID XTREME - 79
3. BAIC ORV - 72
4. X-RAID MINI JCW TEAM - 70
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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.