Perfect start to 2023 ADDC for TGR's Nasser and Mathieu
• 1st in Prologue for Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel
• 1st on Stage 1 for Nasser and Mathieu
• 3rd on Stage 1 for Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR)’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver, Mathieu Baumel, got their 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge of to the perfect start when they won the Prologue for the race on Sunday, 26 February. They followed this up with a stage victory, bringing their Dakar-winning GR DKR Hilux T1+ home 6min 05sec ahead of their nearest rivals. At the same time, teammates Henk Lategan and co-driver, Brett Cummings, finished the day in 3rd place, just 6min 18sec behind the stage winners.
The opening stage of the event featured a timed section of 242km, starting from the pre-race bivouac at Al Dannah City. First up was a short liaison of 59km, before a dune-strewn stage that was described by the organisers as “challenging”. Broken dunes, sandy tracks and bright sunlight that made it difficult to spot dangers on the route added to the challenge of the day.
TGR’s Nasser and Mathieu made the most of their tenth position on the road, using this as a platform from which to attack right from the outset. The GR DKR Hilux T1+ crew reported a perfectly clean run, with the car performing as expected. They reached the finish of the stage in a time of 3hr 13min 36sec, 6min 5sec ahead of Yazeed Al Rajhi and co-driver Timo Gottschalk in a privately entered Toyota Hilux T1+. The stage win has given Nasser and Mathieu 5 points towards their W2RC campaign, which means they are now in the lead of the title fight.
Teammates Henk and Brett are not competing in the W2RC, and are racing in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge as a one-off, building experience in their quest to improve on their 5th-place finish at this year’s Dakar Rally. The South African pairing posted the 7th-fastest time during qualifying, started the stage as the 5th car on the road, and posted the third-fastest time for Stage 1. They spent most of the day firmly in second place, but they lost time when they got stuck in soft sand near the end of the stage, relinquishing their position to Yazeed in the process. Henk and Brett were just 13sec adrift of second place in the end, and will be looking to improve on this during Stage 2.
Stage 2 of the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge will see the crews complete a road section of 106km from the bivouac at Qasr Al Sarab, before taking on a timed section of 257km, which will bring them back to the bivouac. The terrain is again expected to consist largely of dunes, with sections of sandy tracks in between. The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge features five stages, and the event will draw to a close on Friday, 3 March.
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “This is the second round of the W2RC and we are back in the Empty Quarter! Today really wasn’t a warm-up, as it was a tough test. But we managed to win the stage, and now we’ll try to control the race going forward. The temperature today was very hot, which made the sand soft and tricky; very different to January, when we had lots of rain and cold weather. To me it is very important to defend my title from last year, both for myself and for Toyota. It will be very nice to repeat what we did last year – to win Dakar, and then go on to win the World Championship.”
Henk Lategan: “We had a really nice start to the event. At first, we had no idea how we were doing, as it was all-new terrain for us. There were some difficult dunes, and navigation was quite tricky at times. But overall we had a clean stage with no big moments, though we did lose a little bit of time right at the end of the stage. Unfortunately, the power steering also stopped working after we recovered the car, and we had to drive the last few kilometres without power assistance.”
STAGE 1 RESULTS:
|1||N. AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) / M. BAUMEL (FRA)||T1||#201 - TOYOTA GAZOO RACING|
|2||Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) / T. GOTTSCHALK (DEU)||T1||#207 - OVERDRIVE RACING|
|3||H. LATEGAN (ZAF) / B. CUMMINGS (ZAF)||T1||#211 - TOYOTA GAZOO RACING|
|4||M. PROKOP (CZE) / V. CHYTKA (CZE)||T1||#203 - ORLEN BENZINA TEAM|
|5||J. YACOPINI (ARG) / D. OLIVERAS (ESP)||T1||#204 - OVERDRIVE RACING|
|6||D. KROTOV (KGZ) / K. ZHILTSOV||T1||#208 - X-RAID MINI JCW TEAM|
|7||S. QUINTERO (USA) / D. ZENZ (DEU)||T3||#302 - RED BULL OFF-ROAD JUNIOR TEAM USA|
|8||G. ZHANG (CHN) / O. MENA (ESP)||T1||#209 - BAIC ORV|
|9||S. HALPERN (ARG) / B. GRAUE (ARG)||T1||#205 - X-RAID MINI JCW TEAM|
|10||A. JONES (USA) / G. GUGELMIN (BRA)||T3||#301 - RED BULL OFF-ROAD JUNIOR TEAM USA|
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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.