NEOM, Saudi Arabia – Wednesday was a day of consolidation for South Africa’s Toyota Gazoo Gazoo Racing’s Nasser al Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel who posted the second-fastest time of the day behind Stage 3 winner Carlos Sainz and his Mini by 3min 31.
However, the South African team’s performance was tempered by a penalty imposed for speeding through a control zone which dropped the crew to fifth on the stage – but they are still second overall standings – 7min55 behind Sainz.
The day’s 427km route was through spectacular scenery which started and ended at the nascent city of Neom on the Red Sea coast – and had only one puncture.
The stage was opened by South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and his Spanish co-driver, Alex Haro who won Stage 2. A media release from the team said: ”Picking their way through the rock-strewn landscape was tricky and the pair were forced to reduce speed.
”They cleared the stage without a puncture but dropped 16min21sec on the day. This left the South African motorsport legend seventh in the overall standings with plenty of racing to come.”
Hollander Bernhard ten Brinke and Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul were hamstrung by their starting position on Stage 3. They started 15th after a poor result on Stage 2 which put them among slower competitors and lost time in the dust. They had two punctures but kept their time loss for the day to 16min43.
”As things stand,” the team said, ”they’re eighth overall and are upbeat about their chances.”
Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma, however, had a spectacular day. They were fourth-fastest on Stage 3 and despite being well out of contention in standings were ”excited by having by havinga good day in the Hilux.”
Gazoo team boss Glyn Hall told The Corner in a media release: “It was a really solid day for the team. Nasser and Mathieu are in a perfect position and we are really happy with Fernando and Marc’s performance.
”Giniel and Bernard both did well, despite challenges.”
Stage 4 will see the crews travel from Neom to the city of Al Ula, a 672km stage that will include a 453km special over a mix of sand tracks and rocks.
The race is scheduled to finish in the Saudi Arabian, Riyadh, on January 17/
2020 Dakar Rally Day 3 result for the SA crews
4th Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +6min14
5th Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +6min31
9th Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +16min21
10th Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +16min43
2020 result after Day 3:
2nd Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +7min 55
7th Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +23min 42
8th No. Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +33min23
30th Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +2hrs 40min24