The final stage before the mid-point of Dakar 2022 saw Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Shameer Variawa and co-driver Danie Stassen record their best finish of the race to date, posting the seventh fastest time. The GR DKR Hilux T1+ crew trailed the stage winners home by 4min 6sec, moving up into 17th place in the overall standings.
The South African pairing started as the 24th car on the road and made the most of their position towards the middle of the field. They powered their Toyota Hilux through a very tricky 216 miles that saw many of the top crews falter. Their car ran perfectly, bringing them to the mid-point of the race well within the Top 20.
Nasser Al Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel continued their steady progress, taking no chances during the final stage before the rest day. The Qatari driver and his Andorran co-driver recorded the 10th fastest time, trailing the stage winners by 6min 16sec. Even so, they increased their lead in the overall classification to 48min 54sec, with six stages to go.
In an about turn, the FIA stewards reversed their decision to penalise Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy for an incident with a biker during Stage 2, after considering new evidence. Their initial penalty of five hours sent the pair tumbling down the order, but with with the penalty removed, they are now in fourth place in the overall standings, 51min 56sec behind teammates Al-Attiyah and Baumel.
The South Africans suffered a single puncture on Stage six, but lost time due to poor visibility towards the end of the stage. Despite this, they posted the 14th-fastest time on the stage, 9min 19sec behind the winners. A podium position is in reach, as they are just 1min 31sec off third place, and 3min 2sec behind second.
Stage 6 was a challenging one for the winners of Stage 5. Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings recorded their first Dakar stage win the day before, but this meant that they had to open the road on the next test. With the bikes following a different route, there were no tracks for the Toyota Hilux crew to follow, so they had to pick their own way across the Saudi Arabian landscape.
Two punctures in the latter part of the stage didn’t help their cause, and they lost 24min 20sec on the day. This sees them slip to 42nd in the overall standings, after losing significant time earlier in the race.
The rest day gives the drivers and navigators a chance to recuperate while the technical crews repair and prepare the cars for the final six stages. The rally is scheduled to end on 14 January in Jeddah.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal
“Today saw Shameer and Danie show their true pace, in a stage that was really surprisingly tricky, especially when it came to navigation. They had a clean run with no punctures, and we’re really pleased to see them do so well. At the same time, Nasser and Mathieu managed the stage very well, maintaining their position at the head of the field, going into the Rest Day with a handy lead. Giniel and Dennis also kept their heads down and their noses clean, and they continue to post highly competitive stage times. It was a bit of a tough day for Henk and Brett, having to open the road after winning Stage 5. But they came through without any real drama. Overall, we’re pleased with our performance on Stage 6.”
“A really tough day for us. We started okay, even though it was difficult to open the road. But we managed a good pace at the start, until we went wrong in one of the canyons. We lost a lot of time there, but so did many other crews. We eventually picked up the correct route, and quickly got back to the head of the field, only to get lost again near a river. After finding the route again, we had two punctures, but in the end we joined the front-runners for the final dune crossing to the finish.”
“It was a tough but good day for us. The navigation was especially difficult, but Mathieu again did a good job. Our car and the tyres have been working well. The last part of the stage was very difficult, but everybody just followed us out. We are very happy to have a good lead after the first week of the rally, and now we just have to concentrate on managing the race during the second week of the Dakar.”
Giniel de Villiers
“Today’s stage was quite tricky, with difficult navigation, and towards the end the visibility in the dunes was really bad. We all ended up following Nasser through the final section, and a lot of cars finished together. In the end it was a good stage for us, with only one puncture and otherwise no problems.”
“Today we had a clean run, no punctures, no problems. There was a lot of dust though, and we were quite surprised with our time when we got to the finish. We thought we’d be quite far down, especially with all the dust, but I see we posted a good time. Overall, it was a good stage for us.”
Stage 6 Results:
1. Terranova (ARG) / Carreras (ARG) Bahrain Raid Xtreme 3hr 6min 45sec
2. Ekstrom (SWE) / Bergkvist (SWE) Team Audi Sport +1min 6sec
3. Al Rajhi (SAU) / Orr (GBR) Overdrive Toyota +1min 49sec
4. Baragwanath (ZAF) / Cremer (ZAF) Century Racing +3min 6sec
5. Roma (ESP) / Bravo (ESP) Bahrain Raid Xtreme +3min 34sec
7. Variawa (ZAF) / Stassen (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +4min 6sec
10. Al Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (AND) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +6min 16sec
14. De Villiers (ZAF) / Murphy (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +9min 19sec
31. Lategan (ZAF) / Cummings (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +24min 20sec
Rankings after Stage 6:
1. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (AND) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux 20hr 37min 24sec
2. Al Rajhi (SAU) / Orr (GBR) Overdrive Toyota +48min 54sec
3. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) Bahrain Raid Xtreme +50min 25sec
4. De Villiers (ZAF) / Murphy (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +51min 56sec
5. Alvarez (ARG) / Monleon (ESP) Overdrive Toyota +1hr 6min 58sec
17. Variawa (ZAF) / Stassen (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +2hr 57min 57sec
42. Lategan (ZAF) / Cummings (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +9hr 43min 2sec