Stunning first stage win for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at Andalusia Rally
The inaugural World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) is drawing to a close with the fourth and final event of the season taking place in Andalusia, Spain at present. Stage 1 of the four-stage event saw TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel secure a comprehensive stage victory, despite starting down the order in 11th place.
Nasser and Mathieu held a 22-point lead going into Rally Andalusia, after a solid performance at the Rally of Morocco earlier this month. Although they didn’t win the event, their third-place finish, together with significant points gained for performing well on the individual stages, netted the GR DKR Hilux T1+ crew a total of 33 points. This set them up in a good position for the final race, but with fierce competition, they can’t afford to relax.
Their performance on the opening stage underlined the pair’s tenacity and fighting spirit, as well as the toughness of their Dakar-winning car. They wound their way through the olive trees that marked the rocky opening stage of 315 km, completing the stage in 3hr 27min 27sec – nearly 10min clear of their nearest competitor.
To underscore the power of the Toyota Hilux, Yazeed Al Rajhi finished in second place behind the wheel of his privately entered car and the Dutchman Erik van Loon finished in fourth place.
The stage, which started and finished near the Spanish city of Dos Hermanas, offered a stern challenge to the competitors, especially in terms of navigation. This gave the TGR pairing the opportunity to make up both time and road positions, eventually ending the stage in first place. This not only puts them at the head of the standing, but also adds 5 points to their W2RC tally.
Next up is Stage 2, which features mainly dirt tracks, with some rocky sections in between. The stage starts with a liaison of 133 km, before the first timed section of 157 km. This is followed by a transfer section of 93 km, where strict speed restrictions are enforced, before a final timed section of 85 km. A final liaison of 180 km will bring the crews back to the bivouac at Dos Hermanas.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal:
“What a stunning victory today! Nasser and Mathieu drove extremely well in tricky conditions, and managed to navigate faultlessly to record a win. We’re very proud of their performance, and happy to bag the stage points. I must add that the tracks today were extremely narrow, making it tricky for these big cars in terms of handling. Even so, we are very happy with the GR DKR Hilux T1+ today.”
“Today’s stage was really not easy, and especially the navigation was quite tricky. But Mathieu did a good job, giving us the chance to go for victory. I’m very pleased with the points we gained today, and we’ll be hunting for more tomorrow.”
“We had a really good, clean stage today, despite some navigational challenges. There was one very tricky waypoint that caused a lot of headaches for many of our competitors, but we managed to find it without losing significant time. Now, we look forward to the rest of the rally.”
STAGE 1 RESULTS:
1 N. AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) / M. BAUMEL (FRA) TOYOTA GAZOO RACING TGR DKR Hilux T1 + 03:37:27
2 Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) / D. VON ZITZEWITZ (DEU) OVERDRIVE TOYOTA Hilux +0:09:17
3 S. LOEB (FRA) / F. LURQUIN (BEL) BAHRAIN RAID XTREME Hunter +0:11:16
4 E. VAN LOON (NLD) / S. DELAUNAY (FRA) OVERDRIVE TOYOTA TOYOTA Hilux +0:14:20
5 G. CHICHERIT (FRA) / A. WINOCQ (FRA) GCK MOTORSPORT0 Hunter +0:14:53