Strong stage for Toyota at Dakar 2024

15 January 2024

The second week of Dakar 2024 kicked off with Stage 7 of the event yesterday on a route spanning the Saudi capital of Riyadh and the town of Al Duwadimi to the west. The day was described as ‘extremely tough and tricky’ by the crews, and consisted of a timed section of 300 miles, run over rocky tracks, sand and dunes. But for Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon, the day brought a valuable result as they posted the second-fastest time, just 7min 06sec behind the stage winners.

TheyMoraes and Monleon recorded a largely uneventful run, only relinquishing some time to the leaders due to a slow puncture near the end of the stage. They managed to bring the car home without changing the wheel, though the tyre was down to the rim by the time they reached the finish. Even so, they have now moved up into third place overall, 1hr 0min 35sec behind the overall leaders. They are also within 40min of second place, and with five tough stages to go, anything can still happen.

Seth Quintero and co-driver, Dennis Zenz were the second-fastest GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U crew on Stage 7. The Californian driver and his German navigator posted the ninth-fastest result on the stage, only losing time due to some tricky navigation early on and a concern with the alternator in their car. They lost 17min 16sec to the stage winners, but remain out of contention in the overall standings, in 41st place overall, after a technical setback during the opening week of the race.

The three South African TGR crews followed their two teammates, with Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy spending the bulk of Stage 7 driving together with Seth and Dennis. They, too, fell foul of some navigational challenges, but still posted the 11th-fastest time on the stage, just 8min behind their teammates. They are in fifth place overall, 1hr 40min 07sec behind the lead.

Guy Botterill, one of two rookie drivers in the team, has shown remarkable pace. Together with experienced co-driver, Brett Cummings, he has largely avoided any problems, and so finds himself in the overall Top 10 of the rally, just 13min behind the crew in eighth place. Botterill and Cummings had a tough outing on Stage 7, however, with a number of minor but niggling issues showing up in their otherwise reliable car. They were able to manage the electrical and electronic challenges of the day well, and still recorded the 16th-fastest time on the stage. They lost 32min 16sec as a result but will be aiming to improve their position over the coming stages.

TGR’s final pairing of rookie driver Saood Variawa and co-driver Francois Cazalet lost time on Stage 7 due to a problem with the rear differential. They were forced to stop and refill the unit with oil, before continuing. They also suffered a puncture and struggled to get maximum power from the turbocharged V6 engine. These challenges cost them 1hr 20min 5sec on the stage, dropping them down to 21st in the overall standings. Despite this, the young driving continues to bank each stage as experience for the future.

Stage 8 takes place today (15 January), and will take the crews from the bivouac at Al Duwadimi to the city of Ha’il via a 285-mile stage. The terrain is expected to be a mixed bag, adding to the complexity of an already demanding race. The final week of the rally will see the crews visit Ha’il before moving to Alula for two stages and then the final two stages near the coastal city of Yanbu, where the race will finish on Friday.

Team quotes

Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: “This was quite an exciting with Lucas getting a good result and jumping up the leaderboard. Pity about the puncture though, but that kind of thing has to be expected. He’s just got to keep his head cool day by day. We’ve still five days left and we’ll concentrate on what we need to do, and hopefully we’ll achieve it.”

Alain Dujardyn, W2RC Team Principal: “Stage 7 brought valuable W2RC points for our team, and I am grateful to both Lucas and Seth for their continued pursuit of points here at Dakar 2024. They have been dedicated to the championship and today brought a good haul of points. At the same time, Lucas and Armand improved their position in the overall rankings to third place, bringing them back into a provisional podium position with five stages to go. It is also gratifying to see six Toyota Hilux race cars in the overall Top 10 of the race, underscoring the toughness and reliability of our cars. I would also like to thank our technicians and mechanics for the sterling job they did, rebuilding the cars during the Rest Day, which allowed our race crews to capitalise on today’s stage.”

Lucas Moraes: “We had a great day because we were basically opening the stage together with Sainz and Loeb and we managed to maintain a good pace. Near the start it was very tricky and Armand did a great job, so it was important for us to match Sainz’s pace. Towards the end we had a slow puncture but we decided to keep going because the pressure was going down very slowly. But with 5km to go we got to the rim, so we had to slow down a lot to just cruise to the finish. But we moved to third overall. We were fighting for the podium and still have a long rally ahead of us. We were happy that the team delivered an amazing car yet again.”

Seth Quintero: “Today was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the stage. We started off pretty slow, just trying to save fuel, but it looks like we were leading the entire day. And then, unfortunately, we had a bit of an alternator issue and lost power and time. Other than that, it was a great day. The team’s got everything fixed and we have five more to go, so there’s a lot more fun to be had!”

Giniel de Villiers: “This was a long day, with very difficult navigation. I don’t know how the guys up front managed it, but they did an incredible job. We struggled a little, and we were with Seth for a long part of the day, but we both got lost for quite some time, I think more than 10 minutes at the one place, looking for the right way. It was a tricky stage, and we lost a little too much time with the navigation. At least we’re here, so we’ll fight again.”

Guy Botterill: “That was a very difficult stage for us. We were going very well until Brett called the halfway mark and very shortly after that the wheels on the bus came off. We had an electrical issue and we started losing volts, so the alarm on the dash came up. We stopped, changed batteries, went to the secondary battery and that sort of fixed it. But soon after that the car got hot, we lost oil pressure, we lost water pressure… So, we had to take it fairly easy and unfortunately it was very difficult to keep a car cool in the dunes. So it was not our best day but we made it to the end. On the other hand, we are really chuffed with our midway performance. We’re still in the race and we can fight tomorrow.”


1203S. Loeb / F. LurquinBahrain Raid Xtreme4h 56min 39sec
2206L. Moraes / A. MonleonToyota GAZOO Racing+7:06
3200N. Al-Attiyah / M. BaumelNasser Racing+9:47
4204C. Sainz / L. CruzTeam Audi Sport+10:31
5211G. Chicherit / A. WinocqOverdrive Racing+10:37
9216S. Quintero / D. ZenzToyota GAZOO Racing+17:16
11209G. De Villiers / D. MurphyToyota GAZOO Racing+25:22
16243G. Botterill / B. CummingsToyota GAZOO Racing+32:16
32226S. Variawa / F. CazaletToyota GAZOO Racing+1:20:05


1204C. Sainz / L. CruzTeam Audi Sport30h 06min 42sec
2203S. Loeb / F. LurquinBahrain Raid Xtreme+19:00
3206L. Moraes / A. MonleonToyota GAZOO Racing+1:00:35
4221G. de Mevius / X. PanseriOverdrive Racing+1:30:50
5209G. De Villiers / D. MurphyToyota GAZOO Racing+1:40:07
9243G. Botterill / B. CummingsToyota GAZOO Racing+2:11:16
21226S. Variawa / F. CazaletToyota GAZOO Racing+5:30:40
41216S. Quintero / D. ZenzToyota GAZOO Racing+41:03:18


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Strong stage for Toyota at Dakar 2024


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