Victory on Morocco's opening stage for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's Nasser and Mathieu
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al Attiyah (Qatar) and navigator Mathieu Baumel (France) drew first blood in the 2021 Rally of Morocco when they won the opening stage of the event. The Toyota Hilux crew won the prologue of the event, which allowed them to choose their starting position for the race, and they elected to start in 10th position on the road.
Their road position meant that they had to deal with some dust from the crews ahead of them, but despite this challenge, they managed to carve their way through the stage without suffering any punctures. This allowed them to set the fastest time on the race’s opening stage of 288 km, which started and finished near the bivouac at Zagora.
The Hilux crew made the most of their road position, and quickly passed the first two cars ahead of them on the stage. They managed to follow the tracks ahead of them, and eventually won the stage by 4min 16sec from the fellow Toyota Hilux crew of Yazeed Al Rajhi (Saudi) and Michael Orr (Great Britain).
Third place on the opening stage went to Frenchman Ronan Chabot and navigator Gilles Pillot, also from France. The pair trailed Nasser and Mathieu by 14min 30sec, completing an all-Toyota Podium on the opening stage.
This was a highly successful stage for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and its partner Overdrive Racing, with three crews in the Top 3. Furthermore, Dutchman Erik van Loon completed the opening stage behind the wheel of a V8-powered Toyota Hilux T1+ as part of the continued testing and validation of the new Dakar challenger.
Stage 2 of the event follows on Sunday, and will see the crews travers 334 km of dunes and sandy tracks, together with a total of 63km of liasons, before finishing back at the bivouac in Zagora. The event comprises five times stages, and is scheduled to finish on Wednesday, October 13th.
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel Toyota Hilux 03hr 00min 44sec
2. Yazeed Al Rajhi/Michael Orr Toyota Hilux +4min 16sec
3. Ronan Chabot/Gilles Pillot Toyota Hilux +14min 30sec
4. Denis Krotov/Konstantin Zhiltsov MINI +18min 35sec
5. Sebastian Halpern/Bernardo Graue MINI +20min 26sec
Glyn Hall, Team Principal:
“Nasser and Mathieu drove a perfect stage today. Not only did they make the most of the strategy to start 10th on the road, but they also managed to avoid any punctures or other problems. This sets them up perfectly for the remainder of the event.”
“It is so good to be back, racing in Morocco. The terrain is very challenging, but our Toyota Hilux is capable and strong, and we never had any doubt that we’d make it through the opening stage. Tomorrow, we’ll be opening the road, but we remain confident of our car. We’ll keep fighting and try our best to stay ahead of the field.”
“There was one very tricky area where navigation was really challenging today, but we found our way through without losing any time. Tomorrow, we’ll be first on the road, so there will be more challenges – but we’ve done it before, and will be ready in the morning.”