ERFOUD, Morocco – Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel blitzed Stage 2 of the 2019 Rally of Morocco to increase their overall lead in the event to 17min 09.
Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro, in an identical Toyota Hilux, moved up to second place in the overall standings on Sunday.
Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s team principal Glyn Hall told The Corner: “It was a really good stage. Nasser and Mathieu really showed their class and are now firmly in control while Giniel finished fourth on the stage so he’ll have a great start position for Stage 3.”
De Villiers/Haro started the day as the third car on the road after a strong showing in the opening stage. They powered through the first part of the stage, the team said, but a damaged exhaust manifold saw the Stellenbosch-based driver lose power.
De Villiers said after the day’s run: “Not only that, but the manifold problem caused the car to consume significantly more fuel and we had to back off a bit to get home safely. We finished with just 10 litres to spare.”
Despite this, the pair recorded the fourth-fastest time, 13min55 behind Al Attiyah/Baumel. They had Mini’s Jakub Przygonski and Stephane Peterhansel ahead but did enough to move up to second in the general classification, 37sec ahead of Peterhansel who was third.
Al-Attiyah/Baumel are 17min 09 clear of De Villiers/Haro but will have to open the road again for Stage 3 – an act that seems to hamper any crew, except for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Al-Attiyah/Baumel.
‘REALLY GOOD RUN’
Further back, team mates Bernhard ten Brinke and navigator Tom Colsoul had a testing stage. They started strong but a driveshaft broke near the end of the stage. They were sixth-fastest to reach fourth in the general classification.
Hall explained: “Bernhard and Tom had a really good run but ran into difficulty towards the end of the stage. Even so, they’re very much in the mix and we’re positive they’ll have a good result on Stage 3.”
Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma had a clean Stage 2 and were 10th-fastest on the stage and 10th in the overall standings. Having moved into the Top 10, they’ll have some more dust gap for Stage 3, which should give them their first opportunity to attack.
With that said, according to Toyota, Stage 3 promises to be a stern test at 440km of special-stage distance. The total distance for the day will by 533km, including liaisons of 93 km.
Hall added: “We expect another mix of terrain on Stage 3. There are some dunes on the route but also many rocky tracks and dry rivers. Navigation will be challenging but we are in a good position at the moment and looking forward to the remainder of the race.”
Stage 3 will feature an all-new approach to the road book with the crews only receiving the navigational notes five minutes before the stage start. This will also apply to State 4.
The 2019 Rally of Morocco has five special stages and a total distance of 2500 km. While most of the racing takes place in the area near the south-central town of Erfoud, the race is set to conclude in the city of Fez on Wednesday (Oct 9),