Victory for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's Al-Attiyah/Baumel on Dakar opening stage
- Fastest time on prologue for Nasser and Mathieu
- Victory on the opening stage of Dakar 2022 for Nasser and Mathieu
- Solid performances by Giniel and Dennis; as well as Shameer and Danie
- Disappointment for Henk and Brett after incident at 160km mark
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Dakar 2022 campaign started with an emphatic victory on the opening stage, when Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel arrived at the finish 12min 44sec ahead of their nearest competitors. The pair made the most of their 10th position on the road, after winning the prologue on January 1st, which allowed them to select their starting position for Stage 1.
The opening stage featured 333km of sand and dunes, with challenging navigation, especially towards the latter parts of the timed section. Nasser and Mathieu managed to find the route without any problems, allowing them to build an early lead.
Stage 1 also saw TOYOTA GAZOO Racing veteran, Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy, put in a solid performance. The pair were the 3rd car to start the stage, after finishing 8th on the prologue. But they soon passed the two cars ahead of them, effectively opening the route for more than 200km. This put them at a distinct disadvantage, but the Toyota Hilux crew kept pushing their own limits, and despite struggling to find the final waypoint, recorded the 7th-fastest time on the stage. This put them 33min 33sec behind Nasser and Mathieu in the overall standings, with a good road position for Stage 2.
Shameer Variawa and rookie Dakar co-driver, Danie Stassen, showed maturity and tenacity in their approach to Stage 1. They brought their Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ home safely in 22nd position, reporting no problems with the car. Danie managed to find his way through the trickiest parts of the stage, but the pair lost some time near the finish, after doubling back on the route to collect a waypoint they had missed.
There was disappointment for Henk Lategan and co-driver Brett Cummings when the wheel studs on one of their wheels sheared off, after changing a tyre earlier in the stage. This meant that they had to recover a stud from each of the other wheels before they could continue the race. They lost 3hr 23min 46sec to the leaders as a result.
Next up would have been the Marathon Stages, which would have seen the cars race to an unsupported bivouac on Stage 2, before returning to the technical crews via Stage 3. Heavy rains, however, flooded the marathon bivouac, forcing the organisers to opt for a conventional bivouac after Stage 2. The route stretches from Hail to Al Qaisumah, via a timed section of 338km. Liaisons of 183km and 270km connect the stage to the two bivouacs. The terrain is expected to comprise of sandy tracks, hard-packed soil, and some dunes.
Dakar 2022 consist of 12 competitive stages, preceded by a prologue. A rest day is planned mid-way through the race, with the event ending on January 14th, back in the coastal city of Jeddah.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal:
“Today was an emotional rollercoaster for us, as we had Henk and Brett lose hours due to a problem with one of their wheels; but at the same time Nasser and Mathieu won a really tricky opening stage. We certainly can’t complain – any day that you lead the Dakar is a good day – but we would have loved to see Henk and Brett in the Top 10. With that said, Giniel and Dennis did a sterling job, opening the road for most of the day. And Shameer and Danie put in a solid performance despite the tricky navigation.”
“Everything went well today, and we did a good job. Mathieu was exceptional with the navigation, especially in the last part of the stage where it was very difficult. I’m very happy with the performance of our TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux, as well as the BF Goodrich tyres, and I feel we made a good start to the race today.”
Giniel de Villiers:
“It was a properly tough opening stage today. Difficult places to cross, tough navigation and we were opening the route for most of the day. We caught the two crews ahead of us early on, so from then on it was even more difficult. We lost a bit of time hunting for one of the waypoints, but eventually we found the right way. Overall, we are happy, especially with the performance of the car. Now we’re looking forward to the rest, though it is still a long way to go.”
“It was a bit of an emotional day for us. Even though we started well, I made a mistake with the tyre pressures this morning, electing to run a low pressure. In the cold weather, one of our tyres came off the rim, and we had to change it. Something went wrong when we fitted the new wheel, because 100km later it came off completely. The wheel studs were broken, and we had to make major running repairs during the stage. Now, we must make a mind-shift, as our plan for the race has changed completely. Tomorrow, we’ll start with a fresh plan, and take it from there.”
“The navigation was really tricky today, and we lost some time hunting for waypoints. However, the car ran without any problems, and while we are disappointed that we lost time, we are ready to tackle the next tough stage tomorrow.”
Stage 1 Results:
1. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (AND) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux 3hr 30min 53sec
2. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) BRX Prodrive Hunter +12min 07sec
3. Prokop (CZE) / Chytka (CZE) Benzina Orlen Team Ford Raptor +21min 21sec
4. Alvarez (ARG) / Monleon (ESP) Overdrive Toyota Hilux +26min 31sec
5. Vasilyev (RUS) / Uperenko (LVA) VRT Team BMW X5 +27min 52sec
7. De Villiers (ZAF) / Murphy (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +32min 43sec
22. Variawa (ZAF) / Stassen (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +1hr 04min 50sec
57. Lategan (ZAF) / Cummings (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +3hr 23min 46sec
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