Stage 10 of the 2020 Dakar Rally brought mixed results for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, with Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro placing 3rdon the feared marathon stage of 608km. The racing section of the stage was shortened to just 230km due to safety reasons, but the Toyota Hilux crew brought their car to the finish just 4min 26sec behind stage winners and overall leader, Carlos Sainz (MINI).
De Villiers/Haro’s performance was overshadowed by two setbacks for the team. The first came early in the stage, when Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma rolled their car over a steep dune. The crew was unhurt, but the Toyota Hilux sustained some damage, including a broken windscreen and bent suspension members.
“Luckily Fernando and Marc spent a fair bit of time racing without a windscreen at the Lichtenburg 400, part of the South African Cross-Country Series, last year,” said TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Team Principal, Glyn Hall, from the bivouac at Haradh. “This experience certainly came in handy today, as they had to complete a long stage without a windscreen again.”
The Spanish duo spent the best part of an hour repairing their car, before setting off on the remainder of the stage. They reached the small overnight bivouac at Shudayah without further incident, and lost 1hr 17min 33sec in the process. As Stage 10 was the marathon stage, they had to repair the car themselves, though their fellow competitors were allowed to lend a hand and spare parts.
For the team as a whole, the biggest setback came when Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel lost nearly 18 minutes after struggling to locate a waypoint, and then taking the wrong route for 20km. They battled on and clawed back some of the time lost, but ended up trailing Sainz to the finish by 17min 46sec. This means they are now 18min 10sec back in the overall standings, with two stages remaining in the 42ndedition of the world’s toughest automotive race.
Stage 10 also saw Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke and Belgian co-driver, Tom Colsoul, complete the stage in 6thplace, surrendering 6min 40sec to the stage winners. The affable Dutchman is in 7thplace overall, and lamented the shortening of the marathon stage, as he felt he had more time to gain.
“The stage was tricky and dangerous – over exactly the type of terrain that the Hilux thrives on. The tougher it is, the better the car gets,” said Ten Brinke. “We were disappointed to hear that we’d have only 230km to race on today, but at least the car is in one piece, which makes it easy for us to attack tomorrow.”
Only two stages remain in this year’s Dakar Rally, starting with the 744km dash from Shubaytah back to Haradh. The stage includes a timed section of 379km, and will start with 80km of tough dune crossings, before changing to faster tracks and rocky crossings. The race will draw to a close on Friday, January 17th, with the final stage to the Saudi capital of Riyadh.