- Al-Attiyah and Baumel take overall lead for Toyota Gazoo Racing
- Lategan and Cummings second on stage
- Stage 3 curtailed by adverse weather
Heavy rain forced the organisers of Dakar 2023 to shorten yesterday’s third stage, between Al Ula and Ha’il. Once again, punctures caused havoc for many of the crews, but defending champions Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel were able to bring their Toyota Gazoo Racing GR DKR HiluxT1+ to the top of the overall leaderboard.
Fastest TGR crew on the day was Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings, who posted the second fastest time, just 3min 26sec behind the winners. They ended the day in 11th place overall, 40min 08sec off the lead.
That lead belongs to their teammates, despite the fact they had to slow their pace following two punctures early in the stage – with a limit of only two spare tyres carried on board cars in the T1+ class. The pair competed the test in 13th place, 20min 58sec off the winners’ pace. But with some of their closest rivals in the overall standings falling by the wayside, they now have a 13min 20sec advantage over the privately entered Hilux of Yazeed Al Rajhi and Dirk von Zitzewitz in second place.
Further back, Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy also had to deal with two early punctures. They switched to survival mode and steadily lost time during the stage. They managed to limit their time loss to 28min 40sec, but relinquished to places in the overall standings. They are currently in seventh, 32min 08sec off the lead. They will be hoping for less hostile terrain in the coming stages.
Today’s Stage 4 of the Saudi Arabia-based rally starts and finishes near the city of Ha’il and comprises a 58-mile liaison to the start of the 264-mile timed stage. They day concludes with a 36-mile liaison back to the bivouac at Ha’il, which will serve as the rally’s base for the next three days.
Dakar 2023 consists of 14 stages and is scheduled to conclude in the city of Dammam on 15 January.
Glyn Hall, TGR Dakar Team Principal: “We had another good outing today, all things considered. Punctures again played a major role, with both Nasser and Giniel having to be extra cautious after early punctures. With that said, Nasser is into the lead of the rally; and Giniel has provisionally dropped two positions. Henk had a stunning stage today, so overall no complaints.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “We had two flat tyres early on, which made it impossible to push in the rocks. But we’re very happy to be leading the rally, and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow, as we’ll have a much better road position.”
Giniel de Villiers: “If we had known earlier that the stage would be stopped, we might have been able to push some more. But with two early punctures, we had no choice but to drive very cautiously. Yes, we lost a lot of time, but at least we are here. There’s still a long way to go, so for the moment survival is the name of the game, especially given the very strange weather we’re experiencing in the desert.”
Henk Lategan: “This morning, Glyn Hall (Team Principal) pulled me aside and told me to forget about all the technicalities and just drive the car. This is what we did today, and it clearly made a big difference. I was beginning to doubt myself after the first two stages, but today things felt right, and I’m in a much better space now.”
For results, times and standings, please visit newsroom.toyota.eu; for further media assets, please visit www.TGR-DAM.com.