AL ULA, Saudi Arabia – Only 2min26 separated Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel from the winner of Stage 4 of the 2020 Dakar Rally, Stephane Peterhansel (Mini).
The SA-built Toyota had a clean run to move them to 3min03 behind race leader Carlos Sainz (Mini) despite a three-minute penalty on the previous stage.
Toyota Gazoo’s team principal Glyn Hall said after the pair reached the bivouac near the central Saudi Arabian city of Al Ula: “Nasser and Mathieu had a fantastic stage. Their Hilux ran absolutely perfectly, and they didn’t have a puncture.”
‘ONE OF THOSE DAYS’
Punctures had been a serious bugbear on the first few stages for all teams and other Gazoo teams were hit again yesterday.
Punctures, however, were at the order of the day for the rest of the Gazoo crews: South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers had three – two of them within 100m.
De Villiers said at the day’s bivouac: “It was just one of those days. We had good pace when we were going but the punctures really put us on the back foot.
“We had to drive the last 100km without a spare so we couldn’t take any chances.”
De Villiers and Haro went sixth fastest on the stage, surrendering 18min16 to Peterhansel on the day. Despite this, they’re still in contention, 34min40 behind Sainz overall.
There were also punctures for Hollander Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul (Belgium), who exited the stage with the rubber on the left rear worn down to the wheel rim. Ten Brinke was also fighting a bout of flu, not to mention a troublesome gearbox, yet managed to post the seventh-fastest time on the day, 18min35 behind the stage winners.
They’re now eighth overall, 44min40 behind the leader.
‘IT WAS A GOOD DAY’
Spaniards Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma also had punctures and had to negotiate the last 200km of the stage without a spare to finish 26min21 behind the stage winners.
Bossman Hall said after the stage: “Overall, it was a good day. Nasser did a great job of making up time without a puncture while the rest of the crews managed to restrict their time loss despite struggling with flats.”
Today’s (Thursday) 564km Stage 5 will see the crews race from Al Ula to the city of Ha’il, the route include a racing section of 353km. The terrain promises to be sandier than that encountered so far which may suit the Hiluxes – as well as their BF Goodrich tyres – more than the extremely rocky tracks that have played havoc with the rubber.
2020 Dakar Rally Day 4 result
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +2min06
6 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +18min06
8 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +18min05
13 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +26min01
2020 Dakar Rally overall results after Day 4:
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +3min03
7 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +34min40
8 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +44min40
20 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +2hr59min27