Toyota South Africa DAKAR: UPSETS AT DAKAR 2024 AS STAGE 11 BITES HARD

UPSETS AT DAKAR 2024 AS STAGE 11 BITES HARD
  • Disappointment for Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon
  • Excellent performance by Saood Variawa and Francois Cazalet
  • Three TGR crews remain in overall Top 10
  • Six Toyota Hiluxes in overall Top 10

The penultimate stage of Dakar 2024 brought disappointment for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s leading crew of Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon. The Brazilian driver and his Spanish co-driver were hoping to retain their podium position over the closing stages of the event, but a series of problems put paid to their hopes of a solid result, relegating them to 9th in the overall standings. Earlier in the race, they celebrated their maiden stage win, yet motorsport is filled with highs and lows, and Stage 11 brought a low point for the GR DKR Hilux T1U crew.

Lucas and Armand started the stage solidly in third place overall, and had every hope of retaining this position to the finish of the event. However, first a broken damper, followed by a broken wishbone, all but halted their progress over the 11th stage, which stretched between the bivouac at Alula and the coastal city of Yanbu. Were it not for the assistance of their teammates, the TGR crew may well have been dealt an even crueller blow, but in the end, they dropped to 9th in the overall standings.

This result also dealt a heavy blow to their World Rally-Raid Championship aspirations, as they failed to score any points towards the championship on Stage 11 of the rally.

While Stage 11 brought a low point for Lucas and Armand, it brough a high for TGR’s rookie driver, Saood Variawa, and his co-driver, Francois Cazalet. The GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U pairing brought their car home in the 5th-fastest time, despite stopping multiple times to assist Lucas and Armand and also to deal with a puncture of their own. They lost 12min 37sec to the leaders on the stage, but cemented their overall position in 20th place in the process. Stage 11 was a stunning result for the youngster, who has shown exceptional pace whenever conditions allowed.

Next fastest for TGR on Stage 11 was another rookie Dakar driver, in the form of Guy Botterill, who is partnered with Brett Cummings for this year’s event. The pair had shown significant pace over parts of the rally, and in Stage 11 they set the 10th-fastest time, despite stopping for roughly 10min to assist Lucas and Armand. Had they simply powered on, they too may have recorded a Top 5 finish, but their camaraderie was exemplary, and the pair remain in 6th place in the overall standings, just 2hr 40min 31sec behind the leaders.

For Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy, Stage 11 of the 2024 Dakar Rally brought more challenges. The pair also stopped with Lucas and Armand, and attempted to assist the stricken crew. They lost significant time in the process, relinquishing 39min 24sec to the stage winners in the process. Giniel and Dennis remain in 7th place overall, with just one stage remaining in the 2024 edition of the event.

TGR’s final pairing of Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz had been sidelined since early in the race, when damage to their engine forced the team to replace the twin-turbo V6 petrol engine in their car. This resulted in a massive penalty, which effectively dropped the pairing out of contention for the race. As such, they took on the mantle of ‘water carriers’ for the final stages of the rally, carrying spare parts and fluids for the cars ahead of them. This came into play during Stage 11, when they stopped with Lucas and Armand to donate spares and assist with repairs.

In the end, both Seth/Dennis and Lucas/Armand accrued massive time losses on Stage 11. While this did not really impact on Seth/Dennis’ results, it dealt a hard blow to Lucas and Armand, who were looking at a second place in the overall standings mid-way through the penultimate stage.

While Stage 11 was a tough one for TGR as a team, Toyota as a brand was well represented on the stage. Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq set the fastest time in their privately entered Toyota Hilux, while Guillaume de Mevius and Xavier Panseri went second fastest. Together with the works crews, a total of five Toyota Hiluxes attained Top 10 positions, underscoring the toughness and reliability of the car.

A single stage remains in Dakar 2024, but at 137km in length, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the outcome of the rally. The stage, which will be run in the area to the northwest of the coastal Saudi city of Yanbu, will bring the rally to a finish, after 12 competitive stages that encompassed a large variety of terrain types.

QUOTES:

Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: “Stage 11 of the 2024 Dakar Rally was an unbelievable tough test for all the competitors. Unfortunately, our team also fell foul to some of the many pitfalls that marked the stage, and Lucas and Armand lost out on their podium position in the overall standings. Still, we are encouraged by Saood and Francois’ pace today, as they brought their GR DKR Hilux T1U home in 5th place overall – a stunning performance by the rookie driver, which bodes well for the future.”

Alain Dujardyn, W2RC Team Principal: “Today was a bitter pill for the team, especially in terms of the Word Rally-Raid Championship. We were hoping for a solid haul of points, but unfortunately that’s not how things worked out. Even so, we still have three cars in the overall Top 10 of Dakar 2024, and in the W2RC, Lucas and Armand are in third place for the event. This was not the result we had hoped for, but this is the nature of motorsport, and we will continue our quest to score as many points as possible tomorrow.

“I would also like to congratulate Saood and Francois on a stellar performance in what was clearly an extremely tough stage.”

Guy Botterill: “We had a very good run and we looked after the car. We went slow when we needed to go slow. We went fast when we needed to go fast. Brett was amazing on the navigation. And then we saw Lucas in a very narrow canyon with his wheel off. So, we stopped and took our damper off to give to Lucas. Luckily, Seth arrived, but we lost around 15 minutes in the process. I do think we were pretty good for a top five position, and I’m a bit disappointed with where we ended up. But that’s the way it is.”

Lucas Moraes: “A heart-breaking day for us, and we were just cruising, just enjoying the stage. Suddenly, we felt the car was loose on the road, and then the damper went off… We have to thank Seth and Dennis – these guys were amazing. They gave their damper, but then we started driving again and we saw the car was still not good, so we saw the upper wishbone was broken! It was all over, but then Seth stopped again, gave his wishbone, and eventually, we finished the stage. It is really hard to lose like this, but I just want to say thanks to the whole team and the all the Brazilian fans. We’ll come back stronger.”

Giniel de Villiers: “That was a hectic stage! We were actually going along nicely, but then we stopped at Seth and Lucas. About 80km out, Lucas had broken his front damper, so Seth gave him his damper. Just a bit further on, Lucas stopped again. We decided to follow him, but his top wishbone was broken on both sides. It didn’t really make sense for us to give him our wishbone. So, we tried to help him, and we tried to give him all the right tools. We tried to phone the team with a satellite phone, but that didn’t work either, so we had to make a call. I’ve never seen the wishbone break there. It was an absolutely crazy day.”

Saood Variawa: “It was a really tough stage. At the start, we were going at a really good pace and we caught a few guys ahead of us. Then we stopped for a bit to let Lucas by and then we followed him for about 300 kilometres. We helped him change a puncture, but towards the end, we had a puncture ourselves. He was still ahead of us, and surprisingly I thought he’d be at the finish. But it turns out he was still somewhere on the route…”

DAKAR 2024 – STAGE 11 RESULTS

1. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq(Overdrive Racing)04h 43min 00sec
2. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri (Overdrive Racing)+05:32
3. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz (Team Audi Sport)+05:35
4. #207 M. Ekstrom / E. Berg(Team Audi Sport) +09:46
5. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+12:37
6. #220 C. Lavieille / V. Sarreaud(MD Rallye Sport)+15:06
7. #205 J. Yacopini / D. Oliveras Carreras(Overdrive Racing)+15:23
8. #214 V. Zala / P. Fiuza(X-Raid Arijus Team)+15:38
9. #210 N. Roma / A. Haro Bravo(Ford M-Sport)+17:51
10. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+22:40
22. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+39:24
45. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+02:09:33
48. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+02:20:34

DAKAR 2024 – STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 11

1. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz(Team Audi Sport)46h 23min 47sec
2. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri(Overdrive Racing)+01:27:06
3. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)+01:37:02
4. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq(Overdrive Racing)+01:42:20
5. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka(Orlen Jipcar Team) +02:17:47
6. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+02:41:31
7. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+02:51:09
8. #223 B. Vanagas / K. Sikk(Toyota GAZOO Racing Baltics)+03:01:36
9. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+03:06:42
10. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier(Century Racing Factory Team)+03:09:17
18. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+05:54:27
42. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz(Toyota GAZOO Racing)+69:07:48

Welcome!

Sign up to receive our newsletter in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Verified by MonsterInsights