Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) takes his win with a Toyota Hilux, after 7,586 of hard driven kilometers through Saudi Arabia, which hosted Dakar for the first time.
After a very successful 2018, which included a victory in both WRC and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Toyota Gazoo Racing teams continue their success, now also claiming a win at Dakar 2019. Toyota Gazoo Racing SA led Dakar 2019 from the first to the last stage, with Al Attiyah/Baumel claiming first place.
The Qatari driver ensured his French navigator, who turned 43 years old on Thursday, 17 January, received the best birthday present ever, when the pair arrived at the final time control of Dakar 2019 with teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in close formation. The two Toyota Hilux crews completed the entire stage together, as De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz waited nearly 55 minutes for the leaders to start the stage, in order to shadow them to the finish.
Team Principal Glyn 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 rollercoaster 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 dust. This relegated the 2009 winners to a supporting role; while a similar fate befell Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke and his French navigator, Xavier Panseri, just one day later.
“In a sense it was very comforting to have two water carriers supporting Nasser,” said Hall after the race. “But even so, I’d have preferred to have had them challenging for overall positions rather than stage wins.”
Sadly, Ten Brinke / Panseri’s race came to a premature end on Stage 8, when they suffered transmission failure in some of the biggest dunes on this year’s race. This meant that De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz became the sole supporting crew for Al Attiyah / Baumel.
“Obviously we came here to try to win the race,” said De Villiers, who recorded a ninth place in the end. “But once that dream ended, we were happy to support Nasser and Mathieu’s effort. If we couldn’t win it ourselves, the next best thing was for one of our teammates to take the victory, and I am overjoyed at the final result.”
For Toyota Gazoo Racing SA, the win in Peru comes as 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.”
Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, comments on the team’s victory: “Every year, many entrants choose Toyota cars to take on this tough challenge. This year was no exception; a number of Hilux and Land Cruiser vehicles drove all-out in the approximately 5,000-kilometer, two-week competition. I would like to sincerely thank all teams that chose Toyota for this year’s Dakar Rally. Thank you for your hard work!
Mr Toyoda concludes: “I believe each team rose to the challenge, unyielding to the extreme environments of the Dakar Rally, and propelling the Toyota Group’s philosophy of “making ever-better cars” considerably forward. This year and going forward, the Toyota Group as a whole will strive to continue making ever-better cars by traversing a wide variety of roads and terrains across the world.”
Fernando Alonso, who competed on the Toyota side, ranked 13th in his first experience in the world’s toughest rally, at 4 hours and 42 minutes as the winner.