Second Place for Nasser Al-Attiyah As Fernando Alonso Completes World's Toughest Race at 2020 Dakar Rally
The 2020 Dakar Rally drew to a close near the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh after Stage 12 of the iconic event which saw TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel win the final stage. The pair pushed hard to close the gap to the leaders, which stood at 10min 17sec after the penultimate stage. Despite posting the fastest time on the closing stage, the Toyota Hilux crew fell 6min 21sec short of the winning time, after more than 5,000 kilometres of flat out rally raid racing.
The final stage from Haradh to the newly built entertainment city of Qiddiyah was halved to just 167 kilometres. Although the stage distance was not enough for Nasser and Mathieu to catch the leaders, the pair still gained 3min 56sec to cement their second place in the overall standings.
Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma shone as the second fastest TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crew on the stage, posting the fourth best time and losing just 3min 25sec to Nasser and Mathieu. The pair were just 25 seconds behind their teammates at the first waypoint but suffered a puncture mid-stage, which saw them drop some time. Fernando and Marc finished in 13th place overall, 4hrs 42min 47sec behind the race winners. After losing more than two hours on the second stage, they pushed themselves and their Toyota Hilux to the limits over the following stages and improved to 10th place overall before a roll on Stage 10 put a Top 10 finish out of reach.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Giniel de Villiers and navigator Alex Haro completed the final stage in seventh place, 4min 31sec behind Al-Attiyah. They pushed hard in the opening stages of the race, winning Stage 2 outright before losing ground due to a multitude of punctures throughout the race. Despite the time lost, the pair managed to maintain a Top 10 position throughout the race, and crossed the final finish line in fifth place, 1hr 7min 9sec behind the winners.
The 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally also saw a strong performance by Bernhard ten Brinke and navigator Tom Colsoul. This was the pair’s second Dakar together and they equalled their best result together in seventh place overall. While the crew didn’t win any stages this time, they were in the Top 10 throughout the race and Bernhard lauded the reliability and toughness of the Toyota Hilux, which saw him finish 1hr 18min 34sec back in the final classification.
Bernhard was not the only driver to voice his confidence in the Toyota Hilux. All four crews completed the world’s toughest automotive race without any technical difficulties. This, despite traversing some of the toughest terrain that Saudi Arabia could offer, over a race distance of more than 5,000 kilometres.
Held for the first time in Saudi Arabia, the 2020 edition of the Dakar Rally comprised 12 racing stages that included dune crossings, rocky tracks and high speed desert crossings. Widely regarded as one of the world’s toughest sporting events, three TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crews came in the Top 10, while Dakar rookie, Fernando, came home in a solid 13th place overall which demonstrates the quality, durability and reliability of the Toyota Hilux. Overcoming various setbacks, including 43 punctures which lost the crews at least 1min 30sec for each puncture, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crews kept applying the pressure knowing that they can rely on the Hilux to deliver. However, with two stages shortened, the crews were unable to make up the lost time to defend the Dakar Rally title.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal: “The big news of the day was Nasser and Mathieu’s performance. They managed to secure second place and closed the gap to the lead significantly. Just over six minutes separated them from the win after more than 5,000 kilometres of racing, which was amazing. Even so, we came here to win, and had to fight every step of the way. This we did, in the spirit of the Dakar, and Nasser said he’d never driven this hard for so long. We had four Hilux in the Top 8 including privateer efforts, and we got Fernando to the finish in 13th despite some setbacks along the way.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah (No. 300): “I’m so happy to have finished this Dakar, the first edition in Saudi Arabia. Second place was a good result and I’d like to thank the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Team and all the sponsors. It’s a great feeling and we are quite happy. We won the stage today and partially closed the gap to the leaders, but we knew it was a big ask after making a mistake two days ago. But this is a rally, and that’s how it goes. Thanks again to Mathieu, the team; and I’m proud that we finished second. It really wasn’t easy, considering the competition and the terrain; but I’m sure we’ll be back to fight for the victory again next year.”
Giniel de Villiers (No. 304): “It’s always nice to finish the Dakar. It is a tough race to finish, and being at the finisher’s podium is always a good feeling. I think it was a great race, especially since this was the first edition in Saudi Arabia. The first week had amazing scenery and the second week was a little bit faster, with some difficult dunes at the end. Overall, I think it was a great race. Well done to Carlos, who won the race again; and also well done to Stephane and my teammate Nasser. They all did a fantastic job throughout the race, and they were really, really fast.”
Bernhard ten Brinke (No. 307): “It is a very good feeling, finishing this Dakar. It is my second finish with Tom Colsoul, and we again finished in seventh place. We are very happy with our finish; the team did a great job, the car was fantastic and so was Tom. I’d like to thank everybody for this amazing job.”
Fernando Alonso (No. 310): “Yes, today was good; definitely one of the best stages for us in terms of pace. We had a little bit of traffic, and also had a puncture. But despite this we’re just three minutes behind, so I think our pace was very close to the stage winners. So we’re happy with that, and also happy to be here. This is the toughest rally in the world, and we finished it on our first attempt. I had the best team around me; the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing guys, Marc in the car, and I think thanks to them we finished the race on the first try. I’m really grateful, and I really enjoyed the last two weeks.”
2020 Dakar Rally Stage 12 Results:
1st No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, 1hr 17min 30sec
4th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +3min 25sec
7th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +4min 31sec
8th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +4min 40sec
2020 Dakar Rally Overall Results After Stage 12:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +6min 21sec
5th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +1hr 7min 9sec
7th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +1hr 18min 34sec
13th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +4hr 42min 47sec
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