TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah cuts lead on Dakar SS4
Reigning Dakar Rally champion Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel completed the gruelling 453-kilometre Stage 4 between Neom and Al Ula, posting a time of just 2min 26sec slower than the leaders. The pair were the fifth car to start the stage and the made most of their road position, posting competitive times throughout. Despite coming into Stage 4 with a three minute penalty imposed by officials on the previous stage, Nasser and Mathieu managed to halve their overall lead gap to just 3min 3sec.
The other three TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crews all suffered multiple punctures, some left with no spare wheels. Bernhard ten Brinke and navigator Tom Colsoul brought their Hilux across the finish line in seventh with a bare rim on the right rear just 19 seconds behind teammates Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro to maintain their eighth position overall. A severe cold has been taking its toll on Bernhard while a gearbox operational issue caused more headaches for the crew, who had to nurse the car to the finish line 18min 35sec behind the leaders.
Apart from three more punctures, Giniel and Alex were relatively trouble-free but lost 18min 16sec to complete the stage in sixth place. The crew were also able to hold on to their seventh overall position, 34min 40sec behind the leaders.
Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma also endured punctures and had to switch to tyre management mode after they used up their last spare wheel, finishing the stage in 13th place, losing 26min 21sec to the leaders. The duo moved up to 20th place overall, just shy of three hours behind the leaders.
The 2020 Dakar Rally moves from Al Ula to the north-western city of Ha’il over the 564-kilometre Stage 5, featuring a special stage of 353 kilometres. The stage will see crews traverse past enormous rock formations and sandy hills which should reduce the high attrition rate of tyres.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal: “The good news is that from the information that we have, there are more sandy tracks from now on. I hope we’ve left the problem of punctures behind us and we’ll be on the sand tyres from now on. This means a slightly softer construction which gives our crews better traction. If this is indeed the case, the drivers can relax a little because finishing a stage with no spares is quite stressful for the crew.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah (No. 300): “It was a good day for us and I’m quite happy. We did a really great job in Stage 4 without any mistakes so I’m really very happy.”
Giniel de Villiers (No. 304): “Not really the stage we wanted. We had three punctures and had to do 120 kilometres with no spare tyres. That made it very difficult and we had to come off the gas as there are so many rocks here. We also got lost a little in one area, but at least we’re here. It was a very difficult and long stage.”
Tom Colsoul (No. 307, Navigator): “It was actually quite a good stage up until we reached the second neutralisation zone. At that point, we’d only had one puncture, and I think we were up to fifth place. Everything went well, especially considering the fact that Bernhard was pretty sick when he got up today. But the last part was just too much for him. We had another three punctures, now we’ve got problems with the gearbox… It was just 100 kilometres too far for Bernhard in his condition.”
Fernando Alonso (No. 310): “Today was not an easy day. I think it was probably the most stressful stage I’ve done so far. Between testing and racing the car, this was beyond any expectation. The navigation was really tricky with a lot of rocky places. We got three punctures quite early on in the stage and we did 150 kilometres with no spare tyre, so we had to drive quite carefully in the last section. There was quite a lot of stress, but I’m enjoying being here at the finish even though it was very demanding. I saw my teammates at the neutralisation and I told them that I had no tyres left. I asked them to please give me a spare if they saw me stopped on the stage, but we drove a bit slower in the last 150 kilometres just to avoid any issues. Two hundred kilometres ago it was very stressful in the car, but we’re happy to be here and happy to have survived the stage.”
2020 Dakar Rally Day 4 Results:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +2min 26sec
6th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +18min 16sec
7th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +18min 35sec
13th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +26min 21sec
2020 Dakar Rally Overall Results After Day 4:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +3min 3sec
7th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +34min 40sec
8th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +44min 40sec
20th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +2hrs 59min 27sec