Nasser and Mathieu back in W2RC action at 2023 Sonora Rally
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Dakar-winning crew of Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver, Mathieu Baumel, will be back in action at Round 3 of the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) next week, when they start the Sonora Rally in Mexico. The pair will again be campaigning the GR DKR Hilux T1+, which saw them win a second consecutive Dakar Rally earlier this year.
Victory in the world’s toughest automotive rally set the current W2RC title holders up for another highly competitive season, though the competition was always going to be fierce. Round 2, however, brought disappointment for the crew, as a crash saw them lose all the points they had gained by winning the three opening stages of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Forced to withdraw, Nasser and Mathieu saw their 2023 W2RC campaign suffer a serious setback, which they will be aiming to address in the upcoming race.
After two rounds, the TGR crew find themselves 16 points adrift of the lead, but still in second place on the points table. With this in mind, they will be targeting valuable points finishes on each stage of the 5-stage Sonora Rally, which could prove pivotal in the outcome of this year’s title fight. At the same time, TGR leads the Manufacturers’ championship, 41 points clear of the second-placed manufacturer.
Next week’s Sonora Rally is set in the Sonora province of Mexico, the second-largest province in the country. It borders the United States to the south of Arizona, and the race features five stages starting with a Prologue on 23 April, 2023. The opening stage of the race will start and finish near the town of Hermosillo, before the rally moves to the western part of the state, following the coastline towards the finish at San Luis Rio Colorado on 28 April.
While the Sonora Rally has taken place since 2015, this is the first time that the event features as part of the International circuit, and as such the terrain is largely unknown to the bulk of the competitors. Past editions of the Sonora Rally have featured massive dunes, but the organisers have stressed that this year’s event will also include rocky mountains, beaches, open deserts and many wash-aways.
Alain Dujardyn, TGR W2RC Team Principal: “We are very excited to be taking on the third round of the 2023 W2RC, especially after the disappointment of the previous round. Our GR DKR Hilux T1+ is back to perfect condition, and we look forward to the challenging terrain offered by the Mexican countryside. With that said, our objective is clear: To bank maximum points in defence of our W2RC title.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “I was bitterly disappointed to crash out of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – an event that we know quite well. Even so, the next round is another opportunity to score points, and we’ll be looking to closing the gap to Sebastien Loeb this week. The car is as good as new, and both Mathieu and I are feeling fit and focussed.”
Mathieu Baumel: “It is always exciting to take part in a new event, but at the same time, we aren’t quite sure of what to expect in terms of navigation and terrain. At least it is the same for all of the top crews, and while the unknowns will certainly add some pressure, we are looking forward to a good week of racing in Mexico.”
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
Please visit www.TGR-DAM.com for additional image and video assets.
For all the news and more like, share, follow or subscribe to the TGRW2RC channels.
Facebook @TGRW2RC: https://www.facebook.com/TGRW2RC
Instagram @tgr_w2rc: https://www.instagram.com/tgr_w2rc/
Twitter @TGR_W2RC: https://twitter.com/TGR_W2RC
YouTube @tgrw2rc: https://www.youtube.com/@tgrw2rc
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.