• 2nd on stage for Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon
  • Lucas and Armand move into 3rd in general rankings
  • Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy promoted to 5th in general rankings
  • Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings move into 9th in general rankings

The second week of Dakar 2024 kicked off with Stage 7 of the event, spanning between the Saudi capital of Riyadh and the town of Al Duwadimi to the west. The day was described as ‘extremely tough and tricky’ by the crews, and consisted of a timed section of 483km, run over rocky tracks, sand and dunes. But for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon, the day brought a valuable result, as they posted the second-fastest time, just 7min 06sec behind the stage winners.

Lucas and Armand recorded a largely uneventful run, only relinquishing some time to the leaders due to a slow puncture near the end of the stage. They managed to bring the car home without changing the wheel, though the tyre was down to the rim by the time they reached the finish. Even so, they have now moved up into 3rd place overall, 1hr 0min 35sec behind the overall leaders. They are also within 40min of 2nd place, and with five tough stages to go, anything can still happen.

Seth Quintero and co-driver, Dennis Zenz, was the second-fastest GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U crew on Stage 7. The Californian driver and his German navigator posted the 9th-fastest day on the stage, only losing time due to some tricky navigation early in the stage, as well as a concern with the alternator in their car, later in the day. They lost 17min 16sec to the stage winners on the day, but unfortunately remain out of contention in the overall standings, where they find themselves in 35th place overall, after a technical setback during the opening week of the race.

The three South African TGR crews followed their two teammates, with Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy spending the bulk of Stage 7 driving together with Seth and Dennis. They, too, fell foul to some navigational challenges, but still posted the 11th-fastest time on the stage, just 8min behind their teammates. Giniel and Dennis are in 5th place overall, 1hr 40min 07sec behind the lead.

Guy Botterill, one of two rookie drivers in the team, has shown remarkable pace over the opening week of the event. Together with experienced co-driver, Brett Cummings, Guy has largely avoided any problems, and as a result finds himself in the overall Top 10 of the rally, just 13min behind the man in 8th place. Guy and Brett had a tough outing on Stage 7, however, with a number of minor but niggling issues showing up in their otherwise reliable car. They were able to manage the electrical and electronic challenges of the day well, and still recorded the 16th-fastest time on the stage. They lost 32min 16sec as a result, but will be aiming to further improve their position in the general classification over the coming stages.

TGR’s final pairing of rookie driver Saood Variawa, together with co-driver Francois Cazalet, lost time on Stage 7 due to a problem with the rear differential on their car. They were forced to stop and refill the unit with oil, before continuing. They also suffered a puncture, and struggled to get maximum power from the turbo-charged V6 engine in their GR DKR Hilux EVO. In the end, these challenges cost them 1hr 20min 5sec on the stage, dropping them down to 20th in the overall standings. Despite this, the young driving continues to bank each stage as experience for the future, and the pair are looking forward to the upcoming stages of the rally.

Stage 8 follows on Monday, January 15th, and will take the crews from the bivouac at Al Duwadimi to the city of Ha’il via a stage of 458km. The terrain in this area is expected to be a mixed bag, adding to the complexity of an already demanding race. The final week of the rally will see the crews visit Ha’il before moving to Alula for two stages; and then the final two stages near the coastal city of Yanbu, where the race will finish on Friday.


Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: “Quite an exciting day I think. Lucas getting a good result, jumped up the leaderboard. Pity for the puncture though, but it’s expected. So, I think now with him he’s just got to keep his head cool day by day. I kept on saying it’s not over till it’s over. So, we’ve still got five days left and we’ll concentrate on what we need to do. And hopefully we’ll achieve it.”

Lucas Moraes: “We had a great stage because we were basically opening the stage together with Sainz and Loeb from the beginning. And we managed to have a good pace. Near the start, it was very tricky and Armand did a great job, so it was important for us to match Sainz’ pace. Towards the end we got a slow puncture, maybe 40km to the end, and we decided to keep going because the pressure was going down very slowly. But with 5km to go we got to the rim, so we had to slow down a lot to just cruise to the finish. But, hey, we moved to third overall. We were fighting for the podium and still have a long rally ahead of us. And we were happy that the team delivered an amazing car yet again.”

Seth Quintero: “Yeah, today was a lot of fun actually. I really enjoyed the stage. Started off pretty slow, I thought at least, just trying to save fuel. But looks like we were leading the entire day. And then, unfortunately, a little bit of an alternator issue. We lost power and lost a bunch of time. And I got to a waypoint, and I got a little turnaround there. But yeah, other than that, it was a great day. The team’s got everything fixed. We got five more to go, so a lot more fun to be had!”

Giniel de Villiers: “A long day, with very difficult navigation. I don’t know how the guys up front did it, but they did an incredible job. We struggled a little bit, and we were with Seth for a long part of the day, but we both got lost for quite some time. I think more than 10 minutes at the one place, looking for the right way. And then we also got lost in the beginning. It was a tricky stage, and we lost a little bit too much time with the navigation. At least we’re here, so we’ll fight again.”

Guy Botterill: “That was a very difficult stage for us. We were going very well until Brett called the halfway mark and very shortly after that the wheels on the bus came off a little bit. We had an electrical issue and we started losing volts, so the alarm on the dash came up. We stopped, changed batteries, went to the secondary battery and that sort of fixed that. But then soon after that the car got hot, we lost oil pressure, we lost water pressure… So, we had to take it fairly easy and unfortunately it started getting hot in the dunes. It was very difficult to keep a car cool in the dunes. So, not our best day but we got to the end. On the other hand, we are really chuffed with our midway performance. Some days you have good days, some days you have bad days and today was not the best day for us. With that said, we’re still in the race and we can fight tomorrow.”


1. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)04h 56min 39sec
2. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+07:06
3. #200 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel(Nasser Racing)+09:47
4. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz(Team Audi Sport)+10:31
5. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq(Overdrive Racing)+10:37
6. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier(Century Racing Factory Team)+11:01
7. #214 V. Zala / P. Fiuza (X-Raid Arijus Team)+12:57
8. #231 R. Dumas / M. Delfino (Rebillion Racing)+15:40
9. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+17:16
10. #215 D. Krotov / K. Zhiltsov(Overdrive Racing)+23:13
11. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+25:22
16. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+32:16
50. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+01:20:05


1. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz(Team Audi Sport)30h 06min 42sec
2. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin (Bahrain Raid Xtreme)+19:00
3. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+01:00:35
4. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri(Overdrive Racing)+01:30:50
5. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+01:40:07
6. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka (Orlen Jipcar Team)+01:50:40
7. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier(Century Racing Factory Team)+01:52:50
8. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq(Overdrive Racing) +01:58:40
9. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+02:11:16
10. #223 B. Vanagas / K. Sikk (Toyota GAZOO Racing Baltics)+02:22:53
27. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+05:30:40
79. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+41:03:18


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