Solid second place for TGR, on Rally of Morocco third stage
• 2nd place on Stage 3 for Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel
• Nasser and Mathieu extend overall lead
• No technical problems for GR DKR Hilux T1+
The newly crowned World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) Driver's champion, Nasser Al-Attiyah, and his co-driver, Mathieu Baumel, posted the second-fastest time over the third stage of the 2023 Rally of Morocco. The pair brought their Dakar-winning GR DKR Hilux T1+ to the finish near the Moroccan town of Zagora just 6sec behind the eventual winners, after completing a tough stage of 333km over mixed terrain.
Stage 3 was another looped stage, starting and ending near Zagora. Crews had to negotiate a liaison of 61km leading from the bivouac to the start of the stage; and another 45km after the stage, in order to get back to the bivouac. In between lay 333km of rough gravel tracks, that took their toll on both the crews and their machines.
Despite the tough terrain, the speeds in the stage were relatively high, with moments of tricky navigation. As the first car on the road, Nasser and Mathieu had no clear tracks to follow, and had to pick their way across the Moroccan landscape. They continually pushed the limits, setting the second-fastest time on the day, despite a sub-optimal starting position.
The TGR crew were one of four Toyota Hilux T1+ machines who finished the day in the Top 10, and while they may have lost out on the stage win, their second place puts them in a slightly better position for Stage 4, which is expected to be the toughest of the rally.
In the overall standings, Nasser and Mathieu have extended their lead to 6min 10sec, with two more tough stages to come. Next up is Stage 4, which will take the rally from the bivouac at Zagora towards the east via a 351 km-long stage. Liaisons totalling 75 km will bring the total for the day to 426 km, before the crews arrive at the bivouac near Merzouga. The final stage will be a relatively short affair of 152 km, starting and ending at Merzouga, and bringing the 2023 W2RC season to a close on 18 October.
Alain Dujardyn, TGR W2RC Team Principal: “I am very pleased with yet another strong performance by our GR DKR Hilux T1+ today. In the capable hands of Nasser and Mathieu, we managed to set the second-fastest time despite opening the road. Tomorrow will be another long and tough stage, but we are confident that our crew and car is up to the task."
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “Today's stage was very exciting. The speeds were high, and there were a few tricky places in terms of navigation. But Mathieu did a good job, and our car had no drama at all. In the end, we lost out on the win by only six seconds, so it was really close. Now, we'll have Ekstrom ahead of us tomorrow, which might help a little bit."
Mathieu Baumel: “Stage 3 was another tough one here in Morocco, but we managed to keep it clean and fast, and even to slightly extend our overall lead. We had a couple of anxious moments in the cockpit today due to difficult navigation, but we came through the stage without any problems in the end."
Rally of Morocco Stage 3 Results:
1. M. Ekström (SWE) / E. Bergkvist (SWE), TEAM AUDI SPORT, 2:56:36
2. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA), TOYOTA GAZOO RACING, +0:06
3. S. Loeb (FRA) / F. Lurquin (BEL), BAHRAIN RAID XTREME, +0:14
4. Y. Al Rajhi (SAU) / T. Gottschalk (DEU), OVERDRIVE RACING, +1:34
5. G. De Mevius (BEL) / F. Cazalet (FRA), OVERDRIVE RACING, +4:59
Rally of Morocco Standings after Stage 3:
1. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA), TOYOTA GAZOO RACING, 9:04:43
2. S. Loeb (FRA) / F. Lurquin (BEL), BAHRAIN RAID XTREME, +6:16
3. Y. Al Rajhi (SAU) / T. Gottschalk (DEU), OVERDRIVE RACING, +6:59
4. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / E. Boulanger (FRA), TEAM AUDI SPORT, +19:39
5. G. Chicherit (FRA) / A. Winocq (FRA), OVERDRIVE RACING, +22:51
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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.