SA Toyota team result
2nd on Stage 8 for Alonso / Coma
4th on Stage 8 for De Villiers / Haro
7th on Stage 8 for Ten Brinke / Colsoul
Al Attiyah / Baumel make up time to leaders
WADI AL DAWASIR, Saudi Arabia – Stage 8 of the 2020 Dakar Rally on Tuesday brought mixed results for the South African Toyota Gazoo Hilux team.
Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma were second on the 716km stage, only 4min04 behind South African Mathieu Serrador driving a South African-built Century CR-6 buggy but the Alonso/Coma pair are still 13th in the overall race standings.
The stage also brought a return to form for SA’s Giniel de Villiers and Spanish co-driver Alex Haro – fourth fastest on the day and 6min29 off the leader despit, the Gazoo team said, the fast tracks clearly suiting two-wheel-drive entries.
DEATH ON THE TRAIL
De Villiers reported: “The team changed the aerodynamics of our cars and that certainly helped.The buggies are faster but the changes allowed us to stay in touch.”
The 477km stage meant a long day with the leaders having to pick their own way across the landscape; the stage was cancelled for the bike and quad competitors, after the tragic death of veteran motorcyclist Paulo Gonçalves on Stage 7.
The result was that the winner from Stage 7, Carlos Sainz, had to open the trail without the benefit of motorcycle tracks to follow and he hit trouble in the dunes, leaving the SA Gazoo crew of Attiyah/Baumel through.
Eventually Attiyah bogged in the soft sand and lost about three minutes, allowing the pack to catch up and then trading places at the head of the field throughout the stage.
His team boss, Glyn Hall, said later: “In the end we are really pleased with our progress today. When the dust settled Nasser had made up nearly four minutes on the lead; Fernando had gone second-fastest over the stage; Giniel was clearly back on the pace.”
Hollander Bernhard ten Brinke and Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul had a lucky escape when a rock punctured their right front tyre, smashed through a chassis member, and holed the vehicle’s dry sump. The wheels was changed and they elected to push on.
Hall reported: “They made it safely to the end of the stage and still posted seventh-fastest of the day,”
Other than the flying rock, all four Toyotas finished the stage unscathed.
COMING TODAY: The rally now moves into Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter for the final stages, which promise more hardpack and sandy tracks, though the Toyota Hilux drivers will be hoping for more dunes and technical terrain over which the toughness of the SA-built bakkies will be to their advantage.
Dakar 2020 is the first to take place in Saudi Arabia and consists of 12 stages. The final one will see the rally return to the nation’s capital for the finish on January 17.