Köln, Germany,
09
January
2024
|
07:30
Europe/Amsterdam

Maiden stage win for Lucas/Armand as TGR continues Dakar campaign

Summary
  • Stage victory for Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon
  • 16th on stage for Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy
  • 17th on stage for Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz
  • 21st on stage for Saood Variawa and Francois Cazalet
  • 32nd on stage for Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings
  • Lucas and Armand up into 4th overall

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing celebrated its first stage victory at Dakar 2024, courtesy of Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon, who won the tough third stage in their GR Hilux EVO T1U. The pair started the stage, which took the crews from the bivouac at Al Duwadimi to the town of Al Salamiya, as the ninth car on the road, but powered to a stage win thanks to a clean run with no punctures, as well as pin-point navigation by Armand.

Lucas and Armand took the stage win by just 9sec over their nearest competitor, despite a highly challenging stage of 437km. Their performance not only bagged them the stage win, together with a good haul of W2RC points, but also pushed them up the overall standings to 4th place. Their deficit to the overall leader is now 9min 17sec. Remarkably, the race leader - Yazeed Al Rajhi - is driving a near-identical, privately-entered Toyota Hilux T1U.

Stage 3 brought trouble for TGR's Giniel de Villiers and co-driver, Dennis Murphy. They suffered two punctures early in the stage, and were forced to slow down significantly. Unfortunately, they were then also stuck in the dust of the cars that had passed them while they changed the tyres, compounding their problems. The best they could muster in the circumstances was the 16th-fastest time, 19min 42sec behind Lucas and Armand. As far as the overall standings go, they now find themselves in 14th place, 36min 56sec behind the leaders after three stages. 

While Giniel and Dennis were disappointed with their Stage 3 result, they suffered one fewer puncture than teammates Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz. The American driver lost three tyres over the course of the stage, and was forced to wait for assistance in order to continue. Assistance arrived swiftly, however, in the form of Lucas and Armand, who paused briefly to hand one of their spares to their teammates, before setting off again. This show of camaraderie may well have cost Lucas and Armand their stage win, given the narrow margin at the top of the standings, but their good deed was rewarded, and Seth/Dennis were able to continue.

Even though Seth and Dennis had one fresh tyre on their car, they still had to be cautious over the closing kilometres, and in the end, they lost 22min 42sec on the day. This dropped them down the order and out of the Top 10 in the overall standings, where they now trail the race leaders by 27min 18sec.

Stage 3 also brought a challenge for TGR's young gun, Saood Variawa, and his French co-driver, Francois Cazalet. With that said, the pair started the day as the 40th car on the road, but fought their way through the dust of slower cars and into 21st place on the stage. They also struggled with navigation in two places, having to double-back to find certain waypoints. But despite this, they relinquished only 23min 37sec to the stage winners, and are in 18th place in the overall standings.

TGR's final crew, Guy Botterill and co-driver, Brett Cummings, had a great start to Dakar 2024, but Stage 3 bit hard. The pair had their first puncture barely 50km into the special stage; and a second 100km further on. This forced them into survival mode, as they were out of spares, only to suffer a third puncture 150km from the finish. Luckily this one didn't fully deflate the tyre, and the crew were able to nurse their GR Hilux EVO home by stopping to top up the tyre repeatedly. They lost 31min 53sec in the process, but are still in 17th place overall.

Stage 3 was also the start of a 'mini Marathon' stage for the race, as the technical crews were given only two hours to repair and prepare the cars for Stage 4. To compound the challenge, the race crews camped at a remote bivouac without the support of their teams after Stage 3, before taking on the next stage. This will consist of a liaison of 198km, joining the remote bivouac at Al Salamiya with the start of the route. Next up will be a timed section of 299km, run mainly on dirt tracks, with a small dune section in the mix. Finally, the crews will cover a second liaison of 201km to reach the bivouac at Al-Hofuf.

 

QUOTES:

Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: 

"Any day where you win a Dakar stage is a good one, and I would like to congratulate Lucas and Armand on winning a very tough stage indeed. For the rest of our crews, the day was largely ruined by punctures, though we were happy to see them all at the two-hour service without any major mechanical problems. While they are a bit further back than we'd have liked, this has been a particularly tough start to the race, and reaching this point without any problems is testament to the toughness of our GR Hilux EVO T1U."

Alain Dujardyn, W2RC Team Principal: 

"What a result for us today! I am so proud to see Lucas and Armand win their first Dakar stage. It was an unexpectedly emotional win, especially considering that Lucas and Armand stopped to assist Seth and Dennis. This means another good haul of points in the W2RC, and it puts them in a good position in the overall standings. At the same time, we have Yazeed leading the Dakar in a Toyota Hilux, so on the whole, we have every reason to be happy."

Lucas Moraes: 

"It is really, really unbelievable! But the day goes to Armand. The navigation was insanely hard, but we hit our marks. I just managed to keep the car in one piece and no punctures, with a good rhythm for sure. But, Armand was really on point and we must thank the whole team. One more, one less day, as we say in Brazil, and I gotta keep going!"

Seth Quintero: 

"I didn't want to play the 'rubber band game' today, but unfortunately got unlucky with a couple of punctures and that kinda just ruined our day, to be honest. But there's a long way to go and I can't get too upset. I mean, we're here. We didn't lose too much time. We're probably still up there in the general. So yeah, I think just got a little unlucky today. Just need some luck on our side. Hopefully tomorrow we're up there, but I don't wanna continue playing this flip flop game. We've been off the podium every other day. So, maybe tomorrow we'll get back on the podium, and hopefully we can keep it that way the rest of the rally."

Guy Botterill: 

"That was really, really difficult for us. Around 50 km in we got a puncture, and then maybe another 100km later, we got another puncture and then we were out of spare wheels. With about 130km to go we had another flat, but we were watching it on the monitoring system. The tyre was going down slowly, so we had to keep on stopping and putting air in the tyre. We weren't racing today - we were surviving."

Giniel de Villiers: 

"Yeah, another tough day. Unfortunately, we had two punctures after 70km, and then it was party over. Then, we were in the dust, and I just had to cruise. It was impossible to push, because if you have another flat tyre, you have a big problem. You won't see the end. So, yeah, it was very, very frustrating. But anyway, we made it to the end."

Saood Variawa: 

"It has been a tough three tough three days so far! Today, we went into the stage and wanted to up our pace to catch the guys ahead. Which we did in the first part of it. I mean, we caught quite a few guys and overtook them. Unfortunately, there were two waypoints that were a bit tricky. We lost quite a bit of time there, and also in the last one that we couldn't find. We came back through a canyon and one of the other competitors overtook us, so we were stuck in his dust from then on."

 

DAKAR 2024 - STAGE 3 RESULTS

1.#206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon (Toyota GAZOO Racing)    04h 14min 51sec
2.#207M.Ekstrom / E. Berg (Team Audi Sport) +00:09
3.#201Y. Al Rajhi / T. Gottschalk(Overdrive Racing) +01:09
4.#200N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel (Nasser Racing) +01:33
5.#231R. Dumas / M. Delfino        (Rebillion Racing) +02:01
6.#204C. Sainz / L. Cruz (Team Audi Sport) +03:29
7.#212M. Serradori / L. Minaudier(Century Racing Factory Team)+05:21
8.#202S. Peterhansel / E. Boulanger (Team Audi Sport) +07:49
9.#223B. Vanagas / K. Sikk(Toyota GAZOO Racing Baltics)+11:46
10.#214V. Zala / P. Fiuza   (X-Raid Arijus Team)+14:10
16.#209G. De Villiers / D. Murphy (Toyota GAZOO Racing)    +19:42
17.#216S.Quintero / D. Zenz (Toyota GAZOO Racing)    +22:42
21.#226S. Variawa / F. Cazalet (Toyota GAZOO Racing)    +23:37
32.#243G. Botterill / B. Cummings (Toyota GAZOO Racing)    +31:53

 

DAKAR 2024 - STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 3

1.#201 Y. Al Rajhi / T. Gottschalk (Overdrive Racing) 13h 07min 29sec
2.#204C. Sainz / L. Cruz (Team Audi Sport) +00:29
3.#207M.Ekstrom / E. Berg (Team Audi Sport) +08:26
4.#206L. Moraes / A. Monleon    (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +09:17
5.#200N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel (Nasser Racing)    +10:49
6.#202S. Peterhansel / E. Boulanger (Team Audi Sport) +18:05
7.#212M. Serradori / L. Minaudier(Century Racing Factory Team)+18:32
8.#231R. Dumas / M. Delfino (Rebillion Racing) +19:58
9.#203S. Loeb / F. Lurquin              (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) +24:58
10.#214V. Zala / P. Fiuza   (X-Raid Arijus Team)+26:12
11.#216S.Quintero / D. Zenz (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +27:18
14.#209G. De Villiers / D. Murphy                  (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +36:56
16.#243G. Botterill / B. Cummings (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +46:14
17.#226S. Variawa / F. Cazalet       (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +53:38

 

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.