- 2nd on Stage 13 for Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel
- 5th on Stage 13 for Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings
- 12th on Stage 13 for Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy
The penultimate stage in the 2023 Dakar Rally proved tougher than expected, with a sea of dunes making the 154km stage near the bivouac at Shaybah a testing one for all the competitors. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s three GR DKR Hilux T1+ crews, however, recorded solid performances on the day, bringing their cars to the finish without incident. This leaves their overall positions unchanged, with just the final stage to go.
Fastest on Stage 13 for TGR was overall race leaders, Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel, who posted the 2nd-fastest time on the day. They trailed the stage winners to the finish by 5min 28sec, driving at a moderate pace in order to ensure that they complete the stage without mishap. Their lead in the overall classification is now 1hr 21min 52sec, with just the final stage to complete.
Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings suffered a roll during Stage 12 of the event, losing their 4th place in the overall standings as a result. They bounced back in Stage 13, going 5th-fastest after a cautious start. Despite the time loss on the previous stage, they maintained a Top 5 position, and now find themselves in 5th place, just 7min 24sec behind the crew in 4th place.
That crew consists of TGR teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy, who were the only GR DKR Hilux T1+ crew to experience trouble on Stage 13. Their left-front damper malfunctioned shortly after starting the stage, forcing them to slow their pace significantly. Poor mid-stage visibility didn’t help their efforts, especially when both crew members experienced motion sickness while crossing the dunes. They were 12th on the day, losing 13min 51sec to the stage winners, but holding steady in 4th place overall.
The young Brazilian sensation, Lucas Moraes, driving in his first Dakar Rally, is still in third place overall. Partnered by experienced co-driver, Timo Gottschalk, the privateer has brought his Toyota Hilux T1+ safely through 13 of this year’s 14 stages, and he has just one more stage to negotiate in order to record a dream finish on his Dakar debut.
The final stage of Dakar 2023 is up next, taking the competitors from the bivouac at Al-Hofuf to the finish in the coastal city of Dammam. At only 136km in length, the closing stage is another short one, but unlike the preceding few stages, this one is such much further to the north, and as such won’t consist of as many dunes as the previous stages. Liaisons totalling 281km will bring the total for the last day of the rally to 417km, taking the total distance for this year’s race to just shy of 9,000km.
Glyn Hall, TGR Dakar Team Principal: “With Stage 13 behind us, we have only the final run from Al-Hofuf to Dammam to contend with tomorrow. Today was much tougher than anticipated, but we’re hoping for an easier run to the finish. But be that as it may, we still find ourselves leading the rally with Nasser and Mathieu, which is just amazing for us. But we also have two more crews in the Top 5, and if this remains the case tomorrow, we’ll be simply ecstatic.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “Yes, we’re quite happy with today’s stage. We didn’t push at all, and our GR Hilux worked extremely well today, especially after the small changes we made to the suspension settings after Stage 12. We’ve still got one stage to go, and I hope to bring the Hilux home safely tomorrow.”
Giniel de Villiers: “Not an easy stage for us at all. Shortly after the stage I felt there was something wrong with the left front damper. It wasn’t working at all, and we had to be extra careful with the many dune crossings in the stage. In the middle of the stage, the visibility was just terrible. As a result, both Dennis and I got motion sickness, making for a miserable stage. But I’m glad we’re here, and now there’s only one stage to go.”
Henk Lategan: “I don’t think my time was very fast, but it was definitely a safer stage for us. The stage consisted of only dunes, and we took it a bit easier from the start. This was a better approach for us, as I try to build up confidence again after a few difficult days in the desert.”
Source Toyota South Africa / Toyota Gazoo Racing SA