Second place on penultimate stage, as Nasser and Mathieu consolidate their lead for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
The fourth stage of the 2021 Rally of Morocco saw TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel consolidate their lead, when they finished fourth on the event’s penultimate stage. The Toyota Hilux crew trailed stage winners Yazeed Al Rajhi and Michael Orr (Toyota Hilux) to the finish by just 1min 39sec.
The route again started and finished near the town of Zagora, where the bivouac is based. A morning liaison of 118km lead the crews to the start of the 367km-long timed section, which was run largely over rocky and sandy tracks. A liaison of 60km after the stage brought the crews back to the bivouac.
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crew again faced the challenge of opening the route, after their victory on Stage 3 of the rally. As before, this didn’t seem to hamper their pace, as they traded blows with Al Rajhi throughout the day. In the end, the works team elected not to take any risks, to protect the lead that they had built up over the preceding stages. They did, however, push on towards the end of the stage, to ensure that they did not give away too much time.
With their lead now up to 11min 21sec, Nasser and Mathieu will enter the final stage with the knowledge that a clean run is all that they need for victory. With that said, the Moroccan desert can be full of surprises, and the crew is sure to be cautious throughout the final stage.
Having posted the second-fastest time on Stage 4, Nasser and Mathieu will be the second car into the final stage, giving them one set of tracks to follow, which should ease the pressure somewhat. The final test will be run over a timed section of 168 km, after the organisers decided to shorten the stage in order to allow all the crews to return to the bivouac before the closing ceremony takes place.
The closing stage will traverse terrain that was used during parts of Stages 1 and 3, with the race finally coming to an end after five stages totaling 1,633km of timed sections, and a total distance of 2,656km.
STAGE 4 RESULTS:
1. Yazeed Al Rajhi/Michael Orr Toyota Hilux (Overdrive) 3hr 51min 22sec
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel Toyota Hilux (TGR) +1min 39sec
3. Jakub Przygonski/Timo Gottschalk MINI +2min 30sec
4. Sebastian Halperin/Bernardo Graue MINI +12min 27sec
5. Mattias Ekstrom/Emil Bergkvist MINI +13min 58sec
STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 4:
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel Toyota Hilux (TGR) 14hr 14min 20sec
2. Yazeed Al Rajhi/Michael Orr Toyota Hilux (Overdrive) +11min 21sec
3. Lucio Alvarez/Armand Monleon Toyota Hilux (Overdrive) +1hr 4min 0sec
4. Mattias Ekstrom/Emil Bergkvist MINI +1hr 11min 15sec
5. Ronan Chabot/Gilles Pillot Toyota Hilux (Overdrive) +1hr 11min 26sec
Glyn Hall, Team Principal:
“Today’s performance by Nasser and Mathieu show why they are such respected competitors – they managed the race from the front, stayed in touch with the competition, and brought the Toyota Hilux home unscathed. This is exactly what they needed to do on the penultimate stage, with a healthy lead in hand.”
“Today was more of a world cup day, than an all-out sprint for victory. We have a good lead now, and we managed to protect it despite being first on the road again. Tomorrow, we still have some challenges to negotiate, but with some time in hand we can afford to be more cautious.”
“Today was our fourth day of starting first, yet we managed the pace perfectly. Navigation was definitely tricky in places, but tomorrow we’ll have one car in front of us, which should take some of the pressure off.”