Rally Qassim: Second place overall for TGR's Lucas and Armand
• Highly competitive stage times for Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon
• Second place overall
• Final stage victory for TGR crew
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's Lucas Moraes and co-driver Armand Monleon completed the Rally Qassim in Saudi Arabia, finishing in second place overall. This was the pair's final competitive preparation for next year's Dakar Rally, with only a short test-and-training session in Namibia remaining before they tackle the world's toughest automotive race in January 2024.
Lucas and Armand fielded the Dakar-winning GR DKR Hilux T1+ in Saudi Arabia this weekend, and reported no technical issues with the highly reliable car. At the same time, they showed their pace by posting stage times similar to those of the highly experienced Yazeed Al Rajhi, in a privately-entered Toyota Hilux T1+.
The race, which took place in an area that has featured as part of the Dakar Rally in the past, started with a short prologue of 3.6km on 23 November. The prologue was won by Yazeed in a time of 1min 53sec. Lucas and Armand followed just 7sec later, posting the second-fastest time on the day.
After drawing for starting positions, Stage 1 saw the TGR crew take to the 186km-long stage as the ninth car on the road - not an ideal attacking position, as dust played a significant role. Despite this, the GR DKR Hilux crew pushed hard, moving up the order during the day, and passing some of the slower competitors on the road. By the time the dust had settled, their time was just 2min 34sec slower than the benchmark time of 1h 32min 49sec, which was again set by Yazeed.
The final stage of the rally took place over a distance of 121km, and with Yazeed opening the road, Lucas managed to capitalise on his road position. This time it was Lucas who set the benchmark time of 1h 21min 40sec, with Yazeed following just 4sec behind the TGR crew.
After 310km of racing over three days, it was Yazeed who took the spoils overall, with Lucas and Armand just 2min 37sec back. This was a power performance by the newly-signed works crew, who will now be traveling to Namibia in order to wrap up their pre-Dakar preparations in the mighty dunes of the Namiba. They will meet up with teammates Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz, who will also be on site to test and train with the latest version of the GR DKR Hilux T1+.
Alain Dujardyn, TGR W2RC Team Principal: “Rally Qassim offered a first opportunity for Lucas and Armand to compete together, and it was gratifying to see how well they gelled from the very first stage. Not only that, but they clearly demonstrated that they identify with Toyota's philosophy of continuous improvement, as they constantly worked to identify even the most marginal gains. I would like to congratulate Lucas and Armand on their second place overall, as well as their win on the final stage. Beyond that, it was amazing to have Toyota first, second and third overall, with Yazeed taking the victory. I would like to thank the FIA's Saudi Motorsport Federation, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors and Yazeed Al Rahji in person, for the great organisation and hospitality in Saudi Arabia."
Lucas Moraes: "This was a very nice rally for us, and I think we managed to accomplish our main mission, which was to get myself and Armand in the car together, in preparation for the Dakar Rally. It was a great result for the team, and it was nice to be able to win one stage. Now, we need to get back to training and testing, as the final preparation for the Dakar Rally."
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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.