Desert triumph as Toyota SA team convoys to 2019 Dakar win

  • Triumph for South Africa in 2019 Dakar
  • Teamwork paid off on final leg of the race
  • Last-leg formation flying by Toyota team mates
DAKAR FINALE; Image: Gazpp Racong
DAKAR FINALE; Toyota SA team take the win from 2019 Dakar Rally. Image: Gazpo Racong; tOYOTA

PISCO, Peru – The final stage of Dakar 2019 has ended at the bivouac in Pisco with Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel bringing home their South African-built Toyota Hilux for an historic victory.

Not only was it a first win for Toyota but also the first petrol-fuelled entrant to win the Dakar in the South-American era.

The Qatari driver ensured his French navigator, who turned 43 om January 17, received the best birthday present yet as they reached the finish with team mates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in close formation. The two Hilux crews completed the entire stage together after De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz waited nearly 55 minutes for the leaders to start the stage and to shepherd  them to the finish.

MUCH MORE VOCAL

Team boss South African Glyn Hall, who found himself without words as his two crews drove into the media area after the time control, managed only an emotional “This victory was long overdue!” before being swamped in a sea of well-wishers.

The winning driver Al Attiyah, was much more vocal: “We’re so happy to win the Dakar – not only for ourselves but also for Toyota and the entire Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team. Everybodye has worked so hard for so long – they really deserve this.

”Thank you for the drive.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA led the 2019 Dakar from the first to the last stage, Al Attiyah/Baumel drawing first blood, before handing the mantle to De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz during Stage 2. Then a disastrous Stage 3 saw the Qatari retake the lead and held on to it despite some of the toughest stages yet seen since the race moved from North Africa to South America.

ONE OF TOUGHEST IN 10 YEARS

Hall said, having calmed himself: “When we first heard that the rally was going to take place only in one country we were skeptical but the organisers made sure the 2019 race will long be remembered as one of the toughest in 10 years.”

Al Attiyah / Baumel’s victory means Toyota Gazoo Racing has now won both of the world’s toughest automotive races – the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Dakar. As Hall has said before: “Winning the Dakar is never easy – there are a lot of people trying. This year’s race was no exception and brought a roller-coaster of emotions and results for the team.”

The first serious blow came when De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz tumbled down the order and out of contention on Stage 3 after hitting a rock in thick sand. This relegated the 2009 winning pair to a support role; a similar fate befell Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke and his French navigator, Xavier Panseri a day later.

READ MORE Dakar features on Carman’s Corner

Hall again: “In a sense it was very comforting to have two wate- carriers supporting Nasser but even so I’d have preferred to have had them challenging for overall positions rather than stage wins.”

Ten Brinke / Panseri’s race came to a premature end on Stage 8 when their bakkie’s transmission failed in some of the biggest dunes on the race and meant De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz became the sole supporting crew for Al Attiyah / Baumel.

South African De Villiers , who took ninth place at the end. said: “We came here to try to win the racce but when that dream ended we were happy to support Nasser and Mathieu. If we couldn’t win then next best was for one of our team mates to do so – I’m overjoyed by the result.”

FINAL LEG, REVERSE ORDER

De Villiers, who has finished outside the Top 10 only once in the 15 previous Dakars, raced in, clawed his way back up the leader board, and found himself in eighth on the penultimate stage.

“Then the organisers ran the final timed stage in reverse order and the team decided  Dirk and I needed to wait for Nasser and Mathieu. So, we started the stage then stopped and waited in the dunes. Our crew had packed two deck chairs for us so we could watch a bit of racing in comfort!”

They waited out the 55 minutes before their leading team mates launched into the stage then followed closly. This, of course, cost De Villiers / Von Zitzewit a place in the overall standings and they had to settle for ninth. Even so, their top 10 record remained intact.

Toyota Gazoo SA’s win was the cherry on top of an amazing Dakar record. “This is the one spot we needed,” said an elated Hall after the dust had settled over the 41st edition of the Dakar.

“And it feels amazing to, finally, win.”

TOYOTA GAZOO RACING SA DAKAR RECORD:

(Best finishes)

2012 3rd (G. de Villiers)
2013 2nd (G. de Villiers)
2014 4th (G. de Villiers)
2015 2nd (G. de Villiers)
2016 3rd (G. de Villiers)
2017 5th (G. de Villiers)
2018 2nd (N. Al Attiyah)
2019 1st (N. Al Attiyah)

OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 10

Al Attiyah / Baumel (Toyota)
Roma / Haro (Mini) +46min42
Loeb / Elena (Peugeot) +01hr54min18
Przygonski / Colsoul (Mini) +02hr28min31
Despres / Cottret (Mini) +02hr48min43
Prokop / Tomanek (Ford) +03hr19min02
Al Rajhi / Gottschalk (Mini) +04hr30min56
Garafulic / Palmeiro (Mini) +07hr57min58
De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz (Toyota) +07hr59min16
Chabot / Pillot (Toyota) +08hr09min58

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