Giniel de Villiers and navigator Alex Haro won the 2019 Rally of Morocco yesterday (9 October), the Toyota Gazoo Racing pair coming through in their Hilux to claim victory after five days of racing over mixed and challenging terrain. After taking the lead on day four of the event, they sealed their success with fastest time on the fifth and final stage.
“It’s really great to win such a challenging event,” said de Villiers. “It’s only five days but the stages are really difficult. We saw in the second half of the rally how quickly things can change. A big thank you to the team who did an incredible job here during the test and during the rally. Alex did a great job in the Hilux and it’s great to win our first rally together.”
Overall, fortunes were mixed for the four Toyota Gazoo Racing crews taking part. Reigning Dakar champions Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel had to retire from the action on stage four while leading the field by 17 minutes, after damaging an engine sensor.
Fernando Alonso, continuing his intensive cross-country rally training programme with navigator Marc Coma, had the first opportunity to test his pace against some of the world’s fastest international crews. In spite of many setbacks along the way, including a series of punctures, Alonso and Coma made it to the finish, achieving a clean run with eighth fastest time through stage five to complete the event in 26th place, one place behind team-mates Bernhard Ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul.
Team Principal Glyn Hall was positive about the team’s performance: “I’m really happy for Giniel winning the Rally of Morocco for the fourth time. It’s really good for him and our team as a whole. It’s also the first win for Giniel with Alex which tells us that the two are working really well together in the Hilux. The whole team came into the final stage disappointed by what happened to Nasser yesterday but we are leaving Morocco upbeat and in good spirits.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing will confirm their 2020 Dakar Rally team entry at a press conference in Spain on 24 October.