Toyota South Africa DAKAR: DAKAR 2024: LUCAS HOLDS STEADY AS TROUBLE FINDS SETH

DAKAR 2024: LUCAS HOLDS STEADY AS TROUBLE FINDS SETH
  • 11th on stage for Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon
  • 16th on stage for Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings
  • 19th on stage for Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy
  • 94th on stage for Saood Variawa and Francois Cazalet
  • Trouble for Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz
  • Lucas and Armand remain in 4th overall

The fourth stage of Dakar 2024 proved to be deceptively tough, despite its relatively short distance of only 299km. For TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Lucas Moraes and co-driver, Armand Monleon, it was especially tough, as they had to open the road after their victory on Stage 3 of the rally. Despite this added challenge, the GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U crew posted the 11th-fastest time on the stage, relinquishing only 11min 22sec to the eventual stage winners. This leaves them in 4th place in the overall standings, 19min 31sec behind Yazeed Al Rajhi, who continues to lead the rally in his privately entered Toyota Hilux T1U.

Stage 4 of Dakar 2024 started at the remote bivouac of Al Salamiya, where the race crews overnighted after a two-hour road-side service following Stage 3. Their day started with a 198km liaison, before they tackled a timed section of 299km over rocky tracks with some sand dunes also in the mix. This was followed by a second liaison of 201km, bringing them to the bivouac at Al-Hofuf. The day’s stage was described as tricky, dusty and punctuated by many sharp rocks.

The many sharp rocks certainly didn’t help Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy, who had to stop after suffering a puncture mid-stage. This allowed the cars behind to pass the GR Hilux EVO crew, which left Giniel and Dennis in choking dust, limiting their visibility, and costing them significant time. They also briefly stopped with teammates Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz, who had ground to a halt 68km into the timed section. In the end, these problems added up to a time-loss of 23min 26sec on the stage and dropping them to 11th place in the overall standings.

As for Seth and Dennis, their Dakar campaign was dealt a serious blow when their car lost oil pressure due to an oil-related mechanical problem. The crew quickly determined that the problem was serious, and they were forced to wait for assistance from the team’s backup truck. In the end, they had to be towed back to the pits, but are planning to be back in action in Stage 5, though they will be out of contention for overall victory. With that said, the crew will still be eligible for W2RC points, and will also be able to support their teammates, should the need arise.

One of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s two rookie drivers, Guy Botterill, recorded another good result on Stage 4. Despite suffering two punctures in rapid succession, the Durbanite, who is partnered with the experienced Brett Cummings, managed to go 16th-fastest on the day. The pair lost 17min 29sec on the stage, but still find themselves in 12th place overall, with eight long stages left in the race.

Stage 5 of Dakar 2024 is up next and will see the crews race from the bivouac at Al-Hofuf to the town of Shubaytah, on the edge of Saudi Arabia’s so-called Empty Quarter, where a sea of dunes awaits the competitors. The timed section of the stage is only 118km in length but consists completely of dunes. To add to the challenge, the crews will have to complete a liaison of 508km before the start of the stage, though the liaison at the end is only 19km. Only one stage remains in the opening week of Dakar 2024, but this promises to be an extreme challenge. Known as the 48-hour ‘Chrono’, the stage is run over two days, before the crews have a day of respite in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Saturday, January 13th.

QUOTES:

Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: “Today was a tough one for us. Seth and Dennis were forced to stop and wait for assistance. They arrived in the bivouac quite late, and the technicians will be working on the car this evening. As for the rest of the crews, we are very happy with Lucas and Armand’s performance, especially considering their lack of experience in opening the road. Unfortunately, the other guys had to deal with a number of small issues, including punctures, but we are confident that our GR Hilux EVO has the necessary pace to remain competitive in this race.”

Lucas Moraes: “Well, it’s part of the rally and the learning for me, because I never had the experience of opening a Dakar stage. So, it was very tricky in the beginning. It was more my fault than Armand’s because I was still pushing very hard. And maybe when you are leading, opening the lines, you need to slow down just a little bit and make sure you are on the right path. We lost maybe 6 or 7 minutes around the 60km mark, and that’s when Yazeed passed us. Also, Ekstrom and Nasser came past, so it became a bit of a mess. But still, we finished very close to the top 10. We are in a great position overall in 4th, and tomorrow the dunes of Empty Quarter start, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Guy Botterill: “Today actually went quite well. I think the first split, we were in eighth position. And then we got two punctures quite quickly, one after each other. We think the bodywork got stuck in the tyre, because we changed one and then immediately, we got another puncture on the same side. Then we out of spares and we coasted in. So, I think all and all, performance was pretty good. The times don’t show our true pace, but it was reasonable. We are in service and we’re happy about that.”

Giniel de Villiers: “We had another frustrating day. This morning, I caught the car in front of me, obviously in the dust. I lost some time there but managed to get past him. Unfortunately, a bit further on, we just clipped a rock and got a puncture. Seth came past me, the other guy that I just passed also came past again, and I immediately had to drop back another few minutes in the dust, which also made navigation difficult. Then I saw Seth on the side of the road, and I stopped with him. He told me his whole underbelly is full of oil and there was nothing we could do to help him. We will just have to try again tomorrow.”

Saood Variawa: “A very tough stage. We had no power for some reason, and the car didn’t pull through the gears from the start of the stage. About 50km in we stopped when we had a puncture and we checked if all the boost pipes were seated properly. But all seemed well, and we had to continue. But at least we’re here at the end and we look forward to the next few days, and hopefully we can continue this finishing routine and make it to the end.”

Seth Quintero: “Not finishing today’s stage was bitterly disappointing for us, especially as we started the stage at a very good pace. However, now our focus must shift to the W2RC and bagging as many points as possible for the championship. Also, I would dearly love to win the 48-hour Chrono stage, so that’s what I’ll set my sights on.”

DAKAR 2024 – STAGE 4 RESULTS

1. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)02h 36min 02sec
2. #201 Y. Al Rajhi / T. Gottschalk(Overdrive Racing)+01:08
3. #200 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel(Nasser Racing)+01:22
4. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz(Team Audi Sport)+05:08
5. #202 S. Peterhansel / E. Boulanger(Team Audi Sport)+05:59
6. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier(Century Racing Factory Team)+06:56
7. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri(Overdrive Racing)+07:21
8. #214 V. Zala / P. Fiuza(X-Raid Arijus Team)+07:48
9. #222 S. Vitse / F. Lefebvre(MD Rally Sport)+07:52
10. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka(Orlen Jipcar Team)+08:05
11. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+11:22
16. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+17:29
18. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+23:26
94. #216 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+01:13:10

DAKAR 2024 – STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 4

1. #201 Y. Al Rajhi / T. Gottschalk(Overdrive Racing)15h 44min 39sec
2. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz(Team Audi Sport)+04:29
3. #200 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel(Nasser Racing)+11:03
4. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+19:31
5. #207 M. Ekstrom / E. Berg(Team Audi Sport)+19:42
6. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)+23:50
7. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier(Century Racing Factory Team)+24:20
8. #202 S. Peterhansel / E. Boulanger(Team Audi Sport)+26:56
9. #214 V. Zala / P. Fiuza(X-Raid Arijus Team)+32:52
10. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri(Overdrive Racing)+40:43
11. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+59:24
12. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+01:02:35
29. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+02:07:40

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