TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Villiers wins SS2 Dakar 2020
TOYOTA GAZOO RACING’s Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro won Stage 2 of the 2020 Dakar Rally, bouncing back from a tough opening stage to win the Al Wajh-Neom special by 3min 57sec. The pair drove their Toyota Hilux to stage victory without a single puncture on a challenging stage featuring hard track which always posed a risk to crews.
Giniel and Alex were the 14th crew on the road after yesterday’s disappointing start to their Dakar Rally campaign. Throughout the stage, the crew never set a foot wrong and ended the day back in contention in sixth place overall, 12min 4sec from the leaders.
Despite a tough day for reining Dakar Rally champions Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel who picked up three punctures, the pair battled through to post the fifth fastest time, now just 6min 7sec behind the leader moving up to third place overall.
Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul also didn’t escape punctures, picking up four on the stage. Running out of spare tyres just 20 kilometres from the finish line, teammate Giniel stopped briefly to provide one of his spares for the stricken crew which allowed the pair finish the stage. Nevertheless, the punctures cost the crew 26min 5sec which puts them in 10th place overall, 21min 23sec behind the leaders.
Dakar newcomer Fernando Alonso and his navigator Marc Coma started today’s stage strongly, third quickest to pass the first waypoint and posted top ten times up to the middle of the stage. However, the crew suffered significant suspension damage after impacting an unsighted depression in the ground while driving in the dust of the front-runners. Fernando and Marc lost 2hrs 34min 38sec to repair their Hilux and bring their car home. Even though they are now in 48th position overall, the pair remain upbeat about their Dakar Rally adventure.
Tomorrow, crews will take on the first looped stage around the future city of Neom on a 427-kilometre special stage with a total distance of 504 kilometres. Crews will race close to the border between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Jordan on a route with canyons and mountains dominating the scenery, where sand will be the primary terrain. Stage 3 will also take the 2020 Dakar Rally to the highest altitude of some 1,400 metres.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal: “Yesterday, we had good and bad because we were fast but we had punctures. The big news for today, of course, is that Giniel won the stage bringing him back into the game again. We changed the type of tyre for today but Nasser still picked up three punctures which was a bit unlucky. I think we’ve proven that we have the pace so we just need to have a bit of luck on our side.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah (No. 300): “Today was not an easy day. I know it was the same for everybody, but we again had three punctures and got a bit lost on the stage. We are still in the game in third place overall. I hope tomorrow is better for us because it’s a completely new Dakar Rally for everybody and we don’t know what’s coming.”
Giniel de Villiers (No. 304): “This is the Dakar Rally. You can have a very bad day and the next day you can have a very good day. It’s just how you limit your bad days and limit the time loss. Still, it was a really nice day for us today. The only time we had to stop was to help Bernhard out to give him some tyres when he ran out of spares. Alex did a really good job on the navigation because it’s really, really tricky out there.”
Bernhard ten Brinke (No. 307): “I want to thank my teammate Giniel because, without him, I wouldn’t be at the finish line. We had a really, really tough day. From the navigation side, it was difficult but we lost only ten minutes. The problem this year is the tyres. We had four punctures, and Giniel really saved us. He gave me a tyre for the last 20 km and we drove together to the finish.”
Fernando Alonso (No. 310): “It was not a good day for results, time wise. But it was a good day for feeling. We felt fast and Marc was spot on with the navigation. Everything was going quite smoothly until we picked up some damage and lost hours to repair the front suspension.”
2020 Dakar Rally Day 2 Results:
1st No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, 3hrs 37min 20sec
5th No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +11min 46sec
15th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +26min 5sec
63rd No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +2hrs 34min 38sec