Toyota South Africa: DAKAR SETH STRONG ON SECOND STAGE, AS TGR CONTINUES GOOD FORM AT DAKAR 2024

SETH STRONG ON SECOND STAGE, AS TGR CONTINUES GOOD FORM AT DAKAR 2024
  • 3rd on stage for Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz
  • 9th on stage for Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon
  • 13th on stage for Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings
  • 22nd on stage for Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy
  • 32nd on stage for Saood Variawa and Francois Cazalet

Stage 2 of Dakar 2024 was another stern test, contested over a timed section of 462km. This, together with liaisons totalling 192km, brought the rally to the bivaouc at Al Duwadimi. Once the dust had settled over the Saudi Landscape, and the times were tallied, it was Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz who shone for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. The American driver and his German co-driver set the third-fastest time on the stage, finishing just 3min 11sec behind the stage winners. This power performance sees the GR Hilux EVO T1U driver move up into 4th place in the general standings after two stages.

Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon also had a strong second stage, setting the 9th-fastest time. The pair started the stage as the 6th car on the road, which made navigation somewhat challenging, as most of the front-runners lost time on the day. The TGR crew managed to maintain a good pace throughout the rally’s second stage, restricting their time-loss to 17min 15sec, and they are in 8th place in the overall standings, just 12min 17sec behind the leaders.

Stage 2 of Dakar 2024 also brought a second consecutive solid stage for Dakar rookie Guy Botterill, who is partnered with Brett Cummings for this race. Guy, who hails from Durban on South Africa’s east coast, finished the stage 22min 41sec behind the winners, recording the 13th-fastest time on the day. This sees the pair in 13th place, 27min 21sec adrift of the lead.

TGR’s Dakar veteran, Giniel de Villiers, started Stage 2 as the third car on the road. This put significant pressure on his co-driver, Dennis Murphy, as the front-runners had a tough time identifying the route. The navigational challenges cost the pairing some time, and they also had to stop to change a wheel. They dropped down the order to 22nd on the day, relinquishing 29min 55sec to the leaders in the process. As a result of this, they now find themselves in 14th place overall, less than a minute behind teammates Guy and Brett. The winner of the 2009 edition of the race will be aiming to improve on this position over the coming days, and he has been positive that the GR Hilux EVO is the best tool for the job at hand.

The final TGR pairing consists of Dakar rookie, Saood Variawa and co-driver Francois Cazalet. The pair started the stage as the 11th car on the road, but quickly fell foul to the dust of the cars ahead of them. They had a tough time coping with the reduced visibility in the rocky terrain, and lost 39min 26sec over the course of the second stage. This puts them in 19th place after two stages, and while they are 35min 01sec behind the leaders, Dakar 2024 has already served up two tough stages, and there are more to come. As such, anything can still happen, and the young driver will take every opportunity to build experience over the course of the race.

The two opening stages have proven successful not only for the TGR team, but also for Toyota as a whole. Stage 1 was won by Guillaume de Mevius and Xavier Panseri, who campaign a privately entered Toyota Hilux. The pair are in 5th place after two stages, just 7min 44sec behind the leaders. At the same time, the privately entered Toyota Hilux of Yazeed al Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk is in second place overall after Stage 2, thanks to two exceptional stage performances by the Saudi driver and his German co-driver.

The crews will take on a version of the Dakar’s traditional Marathon Stage next, when they race away from the bivouac at Al Duwadimi to a remote camp at Al Salamiya. There, they will have a reduced service of two hours, during which the team’s technical crews can work on the cars in order to prepare them for the following day. This ‘light’ Marathon Stage comes earlier in the race than ever before but may well have a significant impact on the outcome.

At 437km in length, the timed section is sure to test the crews yet again. But this time, the emphasis will be on preserving their cars for the return leg, which will take them to the bivouac at Al Hofuf, as the two-hour service window won’t allow for any major repairs. Stage 3 is expected to bring largely gravel tracks in terms of terrain, and the cars starting further down the order may well have an advantage yet again. The Rest Day for Dakar 2024 will take place in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Saturday, January 13th, but the team is concentrating on the upcoming stages, rather than the brief respite offered by the Rest Day. The race will finish in the coastal city of Yanbu on January 19th.

QUOTES:

Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: “We had another good stage today, with all our GR DKR Hilux EVOs completing the stage without any mechanical problems. This is always gratifying, as it shows that our detailed preparation of the cars is paying off, and it gives our drivers the confidence needed to race in the toughest automotive challenge in the world. Tomorrow, we start the first part of the Marathon Stage, and we will be hoping for another clean run by all of our crews.”

Seth Quintero: “It feels amazing to come third on the stage today. It’s been a little bit of a wild ride. First day we showed a lot of speed and second day, I think I banked on the guys making too many mistakes, so I just kind of relaxed. Also understanding that it is Dakar and we got 13 or so more days to go, I didn’t want to push early on. So, today I wanted to go out and have some fun. I started right behind Loeb again, which in my mind is one of the better spots to be and caught him pretty early on and just locked onto his bumper. We had a lot of cars to pass together. I was kind of just laughing. I’m like, man, this is a surreal feeling being right behind this guy and we’re working around. And I knew we had a good pace. We were moving pretty good. And I had Stefan (Peterhansel) right behind me and he was absolutely going for it. And all three of us were within seconds. It felt good to finally lead something. Like I said, I had a lot of doubt in my mind coming to this race. I’ve been a T3 guy my whole life and you never know stepping up to the big guns. But the whole TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team has been doing such an amazing job, making me feel at home, making me feel comfortable. And I will say this car is an absolute beast. So, looking forward to the rest of the couple weeks and gonna have some fun.”

Lucas Moraes: “Yeah, feeling great to be honest. It was actually a hard stage. Of course, less stones, rocky compared to yesterday, but still very hard. But we managed, even though we were basically opening the stage, we were the third or fourth car on the road, the majority of the stage, it was really hard to see the lines. But we managed, Armand did a great job finding our way through it. And another top ten, which is important. We are just 11 minutes out of the lead of the rally, so everything is tight.”

Guy Botterill: “Yeah, that was a good run for us. Right in the beginning we went into some difficult dunes. Well, I thought they were difficult. So yeah, we took our time finding our feet, but I think it was alright. Yazeed (Al Rajhi) overtook us fairly quickly and we tried to stay with him, but his pace is quite quick in the dunes, and I didn’t really want to take that sort of risk. So, we backed off a bit and then after that it opened up into some really fast tracks with lots of blind rises. And it was very difficult to find the road. You know, yesterday we were a long way down the track. So, there were a lot more cars on the road than there were today, making navigation difficult. Brett did a fantastic job. A lot of the times I had no idea where we were, and Brett kept us on the road. There’s a lot more speed if we needed it, but we were very cautious not to make mistakes and being relatively high up on the road, I think we did a really great job.”

Giniel de Villiers: “It’s quite tricky. We had quite a few places where we went wrong for quite a bit. Your confidence suffers a bit when the navigation is difficult. It’s extremely difficult at the front of the field, we saw that yesterday. Tomorrow is going to be the same again. We’re starting a little bit further back, which should be good for tomorrow. We had a tyre come off the rim today, and I really had to take it careful in the rocks. If you get another puncture, then it’s a big problem. We lost quite a bit of time today, but I’m not too concerned. It’s still a very long way to go.”

Saood Variawa: “It wasn’t as tough as yesterday. It was slightly longer, so a very long time in the car. But we had a dune section in the start which I really wasn’t comfortable with yet. And we took it very, very easy there. And after that we were going but we ran into a lot of dust, and I didn’t want to take any risks. So, we’re hanging back and unfortunately that’s how we lost all our time. But at least we’re here and tomorrow is another day.”

DAKAR 2024 – STAGE 2 RESULTS

1. #202 S. Peterhansel / E. Boulanger(Team Audi Sport)03hr 54min 50sec
2. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)+00:29
3. #216 S.Quintero / D. Zenz(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+03:11
4. #200 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel(Nasser Racing)+06:28
5. #201 Y. Al Rajhi / T. Gottschalk(Overdrive Racing)+07:11
6. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq(Overdrive Racing)+09:00
7. #207 M.Ekstrom / E. Berg(Team Audi Sport)+15:56
8. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz(Team Audi Sport)+17:15
9. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+17:51
10. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka(Orlen Jipcar Team)+19:11
13. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+22:41
22. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+29:55
32. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+39:26

DAKAR 2024 – STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 2

1. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz(Team Audi Sport)08hr 49min 38sec
2. #201 Y. Al Rajhi / T. Gottschalk(Overdrive Racing)+01:51
3. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)+04:17
4. #216 S.Quintero / D. Zenz(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+07:36
5. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri(Overdrive Racing)+07:44
6. #207 M.Ekstrom / E. Berg(Team Audi Sport)+11:17
7. #200 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel(Nasser Racing)+12:16
8. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+12:17
9. #202 S. Peterhansel / E. Boulanger(Team Audi Sport)+13:16
10. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq(Overdrive Racing)+14:47
13. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+17:21
14. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+20:14
32. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+35:01

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