RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Stage 6 of Dakar 2020 saw all four Toyota Gazoo Racing crews finish in the top 10 with Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Mathieu Baumel setting a time only 3min22 behind stage winner Stephane Peterhansel (Mini) despite yet another puncture that cost them 1min30.
That left the Hilux crew second overall midway through the race, 7min48s adrift after nearly 3500km of timed stages.
2019 Dakar winner Al-Attiyah said after the stage: “It was a really good day. The stage was long and fast and we lost out in terms of top speed but we’re still in the fight and looking forward to the second week of the race.”
The 477km stage from the agricultural city of Ha’il and Riyadh featured some small dunes, together with high-speed sections that suited the two-wheel-drive buggies, but even so all four Hilux crews set respectable times.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day, the team reported, was the performance of Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma, second-fastest of the factory crews. They were sixth on the stage, trailing Peterhansel by 7min56 after a puncture-free run.
Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul were seventh-fastest on the stage thanks to some suspenson tweaks. Ten Brinke has also recovered from the flu that held him back over the previous two stages and the pair remain eighth e in the overall standings, 1hr12min58 behind the leaders.
It was a disappointing day, however, for South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and Spanish co-driver Alex Haro. While they reported a clean run they found it challenging to match the pace of the front-runners and lost 11min46 on the day.
They remain seventh overall, 55min41 behind.
“We were hoping for more dunes,” team boss Glyn Hall told The Corner in a media release. “As it turned out, the buggies had a clear advantage over the fast terrain, and while Giniel tried his best he just couldn’t stay in touch with the leading pack.”
Stage 6 also marked the mid-point of the race, as the Dakar reached the traditional rest day with its opportunities to rest while the support crews work on the race vehicles.
The 2020 Dakar Rally will enter the Empty Quarter of the Arabian peninsula on Sunday Jan 11) and is scheduled to finish near Riyadh on Friday,January 17.
2020 Dakar Rally Day 6 results
3rd Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +3min22
6th Alonso/Marc Coma, +7min56
7th Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +9min37
8th Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +10min48
2020 Dakar Rally overall results After Day 6:
2nd Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +7min48
7th Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +55min41
8th Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +1hr12min58
16th Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma +3hrs18min13