Victory for Al-Attiyah, misfortune for SA’s Lategan in Dakar Stage 4
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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel recorded their second stage victory of the 2022 Dakar Rally, when they triumphed in Stage 4, between Al Qaisumah and Riyadh. The Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux crew had a clean run, and managed to extend their overall lead in the rally to 38min 05sec.
This came after teammates Henk Lategan and co-driver Brett Cummings set the pace during the first half of the stage, only to see what seemed like a certain win slip away from them.
The South African pairing started the stage on a charge, trading blows with veteran Carlos Sainz at the head of the field. Their pace was electric, and mid-way through the longest stage of this year’s event, a stage win looked assured. But their charge came to a halt when the right-rear wheel hub broke off the Hilux, leaving them stranded in the desert until the assistance truck caught up with them.
This dealt a second, crippling blow to their Dakar 2022 campaign, following the three hours that they lost during Stage 1B of the event. The pair eventually made their way to the bivouac at Riyadh, where the technical crew repaired their GR DKR Hilux T1+, in preparation for Stage 5 of the event.
Stage 4 brought a good result for South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy, in the #207 Toyota Hilux. They started the day in fourth place in the overall standings, and maintained a steady pace throughout the day. They caught up with a slower car mid-stage, but hit a rock in thick dust when attempting to pass. This caused a puncture, which they were forced to change, before setting off again.
At this point, teammates Nasser and Mathieu caught up with them, and Giniel elected to let the rally leaders pass, following them to the end of the stage without further incident. Giniel and Dennis remain in 4th place overall, but are now just 2sec behind the crew ahead of them – fellow-Toyota Hilux driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi and co-driver Michael Orr.
For Shameer Variawa and Danie Stassen, Stage 4 started very well. The pair passed four slower cars, and were setting a competitive pace. A puncture broke their rhythm, however, and the pair struggled with a variety of small niggles that cost them time. This included window wipers that didn’t work, and also getting stuck in a muddy section. Despite this, they recorded the 25th-fastest time of the day, and are now in 23rd position in the overall standings.
With the bivouac now set up near the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, the Dakar has reached the final stages before the Rest Day. Stages 5 and 6 will both be looped stages, starting and ending near Riyadh. First up is Stage 5, which features a timed section of 395km over hard-packed soil, sand and dunes. A liaison of 110km will link the start of the stage with the bivouac, and the crews will cover the same distance when they return after completing the stage.
Dakar 2022 will reach its mid-point on January 8th, with the traditional Rest Day taking place in Riyadh. Six more stages will follow after that, with the rally drawing to a close in the city of Jeddah on January 14th.
“Today brought some great results for the team, with Nasser and Mathieu winning the stage; and Giniel and Dennis recording a solid result,” said Team Principal Glyn Hall “Unfortunately, Shameer and Danie experienced some niggles that put them back a bit, but they should be fighting fit again tomorrow. But the big disappointment was with Henk and Brett, who led the stage for more than 200km. They stopped to change a punctured wheel, and some kilometres later the tracking showed that they had come to a stop. The right rear wheel hub had broken off, forcing them to wait for the support truck’s assistance. Obviously, we’re very concerned about the cause of the problem, so we’ll be investigating thoroughly once they return to the bivouac.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah commented: “Today was a good day for us, without any problems. We’ll try to keep this rhythm going for the coming days, starting with tomorrow’s stage where we’ll be opening the road.”
Giniel de Villiers said: “It was a long stage, and the first part was really fast, with some difficult sections that could catch you out. The second part brought some nice dune crossings, and the last part was quite fast again, with riverbeds and some rocks. We had a fairly good stage, though we had a puncture after the restart in the middle of the stage. We were stuck in the dust of (Mattias) Ekstrom, and hit a rock that we couldn’t see, so we had to stop and change the wheel. This put us back a bit, and Nasser caught up with us. I decided to let him past, and we just followed him to the finish.”
Shameer Variawa said: “We started the stage with an excellent first stint, overtaking four or five cars. But then we had a puncture, and the little niggles started creeping in. First, we couldn’t get one of the wheel nuts off, and then there were more little problems that caused us to lose a lot of time. We can only hope that tomorrow is a better day for us.”
Stage 4 Results:
1. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (AND) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux - 3hr 54min 40sec
2. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) BRX Prodrive Hunter +25sec
3. Sainz (ESP) / Cruz (ESP) Team Audi Sport +52sec
4. Seaidan (SAU) / Kuzmich (RAF) X-Raid Mini JCW Team +1min 34sec
5. Al Rajhi (SAU) / Orr (GBR) Overdrive Toyota +1min 46sec
6. De Villiers (ZAF) / Murphy (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +3min 55sec
Rankings after Stage 4:
1. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (AND) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux 13h 26min 02sec
2. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL) BRX Prodrive Hunter +38min 05sec
3. Al Rajhi (SAU) / Orr (GBR) Overdrive Toyota +49min 15sec
4. De Villiers (ZAF) / Murphy (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +49min 17sec
5. Alvarez (ARG) / Monleon (ESP) Benzina Orlen Toyota Hilux +53min 58sec
23. Variawa (ZAF) / Stassen (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +2hr 43min 53sec
49. Lategan (ZAF) / Cummings (ZAF) TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Hilux +9h 29min 51sec