Opening stage win at rally of Morocco for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
• Strategic approach to Rally of Morocco Prologue for Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel
• Stage 1 victory for Nasser and Mathieu
• GR DKR Hilux T1+ ran faultlessly over typical Moroccan terrain
An innovative strategy saw TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel deliberately finish down the order in the prologue for the Rally of Morocco. This meant that the crew, driving their Dakar-winning GR DKR Hilux T1+ started the day as the 38th car into Stage 1 of the event, which may have seemed detrimental to their chances at first glance. However, the pair made the most of their road position, which allowed them to follow the established route laid out by the crews ahead of them.
Their plan paid off, as the TGR crew not only overtook nearly two dozen cars on the road, but also set the fastest time over the 314 km-long opening stage of the Rally of Morocco, which serves as the final round of the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC). The stage, which started near the coastal city of Agadir and ended near the town of Zagora, comprised mainly of rough, stony tracks, which have proven exceptionally hard on the cars during past editions of the race.
Nasser and Mathieu set a benchmark time of 3h 3min 38sec over the opening stage, besting the privately entered Hilux T1+ of Yazeed Al Rajhi and co-driver Timo Gottschalk by 3min 45sec. Three more Hilux T1+ machines made it into the Top 10 on the day, clearly showing the prowess of the Dakar-winning car.
The Rally of Morocco is a key round on the W2RC calendar. Not only does it traditionally serve as the final event of the year, but it also offers an opportunity for all the major teams to test their Dakar-bound cars in real-world racing conditions. As such, the Rally of Morocco is well-attended by most of the key players in the world of Rally-Raid racing, and the 2023 edition is no exception.
For TGR, however, the race also offers the opportunity to add a second consecutive Drivers' Title, as Nasser also won the inaugural W2RC title in 2022. As it stands, the team has already sealed both the Manufacturer's Title as well as the Co-Driver's Title, with only the Driver's Title still undecided. With this in mind, Nasser and Mathieu will be primarily aiming to finish the Rally of Morocco, whilst scoring as many points as possible in the process.
Next up is Stage 2 of the event, which will see the rally complete a looped stage, starting and ending near Zagora. The timed section of the stage is 294 km long, with liaisons totalling 100 km bringing the total distance for the day to 394 km. The terrain is expected to be similar to that of Stage 1.
The 2023 edition of the Rally of Morocco is scheduled to take place from 13 to 18 October, and will comprise of five competitive stages, covering 1,449 km. The race will draw to a close in the city of Merzouga on October 18th, with teams completing a total distance of 2,219 km, including liaisons.
Alain Dujardyn, TGR W2RC Team Principal: “We had a fantastic opening stage to this year's Rally of Morocco. Nasser and Mathieu drove a clever stage to take victory, and the GR DKR Hilux T1+ ran without any technical problems. It was also gratifying to see no fewer than five of our Hilux T1+ in the Top 10 today, underscoring the power and reliability of our Dakar-winning cars.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “Today's stage was very tricky in places, but our strategy from the prologue paid off. We managed to win the stage, adding to our points towards the W2RC title. We'll have to open the road for Stage 2, but we are confident of our ability to lead the way."
Mathieu Baumel: “The terrain for Stage 1 was typical of the Rally of Morocco: Rocky traverses, with fast sections in between. There were many places where you could get caught out, but since we started down the order, it was relatively easy to find the correct route."
Rally of Morocco Stage 1 Results
1. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA), TOYOTA GAZOO RACING, 3:03:38
2. Y. Al Rajhi (SAU) / T. Gottschalk (DEU), OVERDRIVE RACING, +3:45
3. S. Loeb (FRA) / F. Lurquin (BEL), BAHRAIN RAID XTREME, +4:38
4. C. Sainz (ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP), TEAM AUDI SPORT, +5:06
5. G. Chicherit (FRA) / A. Winocq (FRA), OVERDRIVE RACING, +8:13
Rally of Morocco Standings after Stage 1:
1. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA), TOYOTA GAZOO RACING, 3:15:32
2. Y. Al Rajhi (SAU) / T. Gottschalk (DEU), OVERDRIVE RACING, +2:19
3. S. Loeb (FRA) / F. Lurquin (BEL), BAHRAIN RAID XTREME, +3:38
4. C. Sainz (ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP), TEAM AUDI SPORT, +3:55
5. G. Chicherit (FRA) / A. Winocq (FRA), OVERDRIVE RACING, +6:51
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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.