Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa 2 podium placings on Dakar 18
Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Team’s duo of Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Giniel de Villiers survived the final 120km special stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally to confirm second and third in the general classification behind winner Carlos Sainz at the finish in Córdoba.
Al-Attiyah, himself a two-time Dakar winner, and French navigator Matthieu Baumel began the final stage 46min 18sec behind Sainz, knowing that only a mechanical misfortune or a driving error would enable the Qatari to win the event for a third time. Al-Attiyah took no risks, however, and a time of 1hr 27min 10sec netted him third on the day’s special and he finished 43min 40sec behind the Spaniard in the final classification. De Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz began the day determined to defend their podium position and the South African continued his remarkable run of consistent Dakar finishes with the fastest time on the last stage sealing his third place. Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke had teamed up with French co-driver Michel Périn in the official Toyota team for the first time and delivered an impressive performance until mechanical failure cost them a potential third place in the overall standings on the penultimate special stage from San Juan to Córdoba.
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah said: “It is a fantastic result. It was difficult for us to get into contention but we never eased, continued to apply the pressure and managed to climb on to the second position on the podium. Our latest generation Toyota Hilux has really been born and the team has done a tremendous job throughout the whole race to put us in the best possible conditions. I am confident that we will continue to improve and come back even stronger next year.”
Giniel de Villiers said: “Having two Toyotas on the podium is really an incredible result for the brand, especially since it was one of the toughest Dakars in South America. It brings back memories of the great days of the Dakar in Africa. The performance of the new Hilux has really improved. It has also been reliable. It’s just a pity we got stuck a little too long. But I prefer to remember the very good overall performance by the whole team!”
Saturday 20th January / Cordoba-Cordoba / 119 km of stage
1. De Villiers-Von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux) 1h26’29’’
3. Al Attiyah-Baumel (Toyota Hilux) + 41’’
Final overall classification
2. Al Attiyah-Baumel (Toyota Hilux) + 43’40’’
3. De Villiers-Von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux) + 1h16’41’’