- Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel increase overall lead to 1hr 27min 10sec
- Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy cements 4th position
- Significant time loss for Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings after Stage 12 rollover
While overall race leaders, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel, continued their run of solid stage results, teammates Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings had a rollover in their GR DKR Hilux T1+ early in Stage 12, causing some damage and losing nearly 30min as a result. This allowed Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy to move up into 4th in the overall standings, with just two stages to go.
Stage 12 of the 2023 Dakar Rally brought the competitors back from the Empty Quarter bivouac to the encampment at Shaybah, where the technical crews were waiting to service and repair the team’s three race cars after the two-day Marathon section of this year’s rally. While the stage was only 185km in length, it proved a stern test nonetheless.
For overall race leaders, Nasser and Mathieu, completing Stage 12 was another box ticked in their relentless march to the city of Dammam, and the finish of the rally. The pair took the lead in the race during Stage 2, and have not relinquished that position to date. With only two stages remaining, they have the end in sight, but remain respectful of the shifting desert dunes that mark the final days of the event.
The same dunes caught out teammates Henk and Brett on Stage 12; an early-stage low-speed roll in soft sand, causing damage to the right rear upright and brake disc of their car, and costing them a place in the overall standings. They were eventually classified in 73rd place on the stage, relinquishing 48min 35sec to the stage winners, after losing more time due to the rear brakes not working after the incident. This leaves them in 5th overall, 12min behind Giniel and Dennis; and 2hr 34min 21sec adrift of the lead.
While Henk and Brett were bitterly disappointed to lose time so close to the end of the rally, both of them commented on the toughness of the GR DKR Hilux T1+, which not only protected them during the accident, but also completed the stage despite the damage sustained earlier.
Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy, in the #205 car, completed Stage 12 without mishap. The pair went 9th-fastest on the stage, trailing the leaders to the finish by 11min 34sec in the end. With teammates Henk and Brett in trouble, Giniel and Dennis moved up to 4th overall in the rankings, 2hr 22min 21sec behind Nasser and Mathieu.
The penultimate stage of Dakar 2023 is up next, and this one is set between the bivouac near Shaybah and the border town of Al-Hofuf to the north. At only 154km in length, Stage 13 may sound short, but the competitors expect another tough test, before a slightly easier day leading to the finish in Dammam on January 15th.
Glyn Hall, TGR Dakar Team Principal: “Another solid day for Nasser and Mathieu, who have shown the maturity and restraint of true champions. They brought the car home after the Marathon Stage with barely a mark on it, and very little for the service crews to do. Giniel and Dennis also did what was required, and they’re cemented in fourth place now with two stages to go. Unfortunately, Henk and Brett had a rollover early in the stage, and lost a position in the overall ranking as a result. They are bitterly disappointed, but we still have all three our cars in the Top 5, so we’re very happy at this point.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “With the Marathon Stage of yesterday and today, the main priority for us was to make sure the car gets back to Shaybah safely. I’m quite happy as it stands, and we remain in control of the race at this point. All that we have to focus on now is to bring the car to the finish, as we still have a comfortable lead. Our Hilux is truly amazing, and we have a lot of pace left in the tank. If we need to push, we can push, but as long as we don’t need to take any risks, we certainly won’t.”
Giniel de Villiers: “We’re happy to be back, after two tough stages. They weren’t very long, but there were many tricky sandy sections and dunes that could catch you out easily. It was important to get through these two days without problems, and we managed to do that. Now, we have two more days to go, and I fully expect at least one of them to be quite tough as well.”
Henk Lategan: “We had a rollover early in the stage, after hitting an awkward bump following a dune section. Thankfully both of us were uninjured, as it was a low-speed accident. We made all the running repairs needed to get going again, even though we had no rear brakes. It was a struggle to get the car to the end, but I’m glad we eventually made it to the bivouac.”
Source Toyota Gazoo Racing SA / Toyota South Africa