- Stage 9 of Dakar 2021 saw Toyota Gazoo Racing’s leading crew, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel, lose ground to the overall race leader over the course of a 465-kilometre long stage that started and finished at Neom on the Red Sea coast. Two punctures early in the stage forced Al-Attiyah/Baumel to be cautious, surrendering 12 minutes to the overall lead and finished second on the stage.
- Multiple punctures also hampered the progress of Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro, causing them to lose another 12min 19sec to the leaders. Despite recording the third fastest time on the stage, the pair remains in ninth in the overall standings after an extremely rough and rocky stage.
- Shameer Variawa and Dennis Murphy had only one puncture on Stage 9, but lost 32min 35sec to the lead due to navigational difficulties. The pair have moved up to 24th in the overall standings after a series of strong stages. They will be looking to improve their navigation in Stage 10, which features a timed section of 342 kilometres between Neom and the spectacular rock formations of Al Ula.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal: “If you look at the overall result, we’re now nearly 18 minutes behind Stéphane Peterhansel. I don’t like depending on someone else’s misfortune to win a race. I want our team to be the fastest. But, if I reflect on the whole race, we’ve now had 48 punctures between the three cars still running. And simply put, that’s just too many and it has taken the edge off the race for us. It means we can’t really have a strategy. We can’t plan anything as a team. As a result, even Nasser is pretty down today. Stage 9 was a stage when he really needed to gain some time. Instead, he had two punctures. He said he hit nothing in the road and on inspection we found only small holes in the tyres. Nothing like the cuts that you’d expect if he had been off the road. It’s really difficult to push for a win when we face these challenges like 48 punctures.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah (No. 301): “Today you could really see the advantage of the buggies over our Hilux, mainly because of the size of their tyres. It felt like Stage 1 all over again when Stéphane Peterhansel gained 12 minutes over the entire field in extremely rough terrain. We’ve again had a lot of flat tyres this year and it really doesn’t make things any easier. I’ll continue to do my best every day, even though things are looking challenging at the moment. But you never know, and we’ll keep pushing.”
Giniel de Villiers (No. 304): “We had two punctures again today, and this morning we spent the first 100 kilometres in the dust of slower competitors. It was very difficult, especially in the canyons, where there were plenty of rocks. At least we’re up there again in the Top 3, so we’ll have a slightly better road position for tomorrow. The tyres are still a big disaster for us and we simply cannot push the way we should. I had two punctures within two kilometres of each other, which meant I really had to drive cautiously to avoid suffering four punctures like I did in the previous two stages. Other than that, the Hilux went really well and we had no problems.”
Shameer Variawa (No. 330): “Starting this morning in seventh gave us a good road position and we started at a good pace. But we got lost in the first canyon we reached, and again in the second, costing us between 15 and 20 minutes today. Overall we only had one puncture and no other problems.”
2021 Dakar Rally Stage 9 Results:
2nd No. 301 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +12min 00sec
3rd No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +12min 19sec
18th No. 330 Shameer Variawa/Dennis Murphy, +32min 35sec
2021 Dakar Rally Overall Results After Stage 9:
2nd No. 301 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +17min 50sec
9th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +3hr 40min 09sec
24th No. 330 Shameer Variawa/Dennis Murphy, +7hr 55min 25sec