- Victory on Stage 13 for Al Attiyah/Baumel
- 3rd place on Stage 13 for De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz
- Retirement for Ten Brinke/Périn
- Two Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux in Top Three
CORDOBA, ARGENTINA – If ever there was a stage on the Dakar that proved what a fickle mistress this event can be, then Stage 13 was it for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA. On the one hand, there was complete elation as Nasser Al Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel won their second stage on the trot. At the same time, there was massive disappointment as Bernhard ten Brinke and his navigator Michel Périn were forced to retire from the race.
“What a day it’s been for us,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, from the final bivouac in the Argentine city of Cordoba. “Bernard and Michel did an amazing job, and lead the stage in the early parts. It looked really promising.”
Then came the news that Peugeot’s Stephane Peterhansel had suffered a crash mid-stage. The multiple former Dakar winner lost 57 minutes on the first section of the two-part stage, as he waited for teammate Cyril Despres to help repair the stricken car. This promoted all three Toyota Hilux crews up one position, and with Ten Brinke powering his way towards a second stage victory, things were looking fantastic for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA.
“But shortly after we started the second section of today’s stage, we heard that there was something wrong with the engine,” explained a disappointed Ten Brinke after returning to the bivouac. “About 60 km into the second part of the stage, the engine just stopped. We couldn’t restart it, and we had no choice but to retire. I’m bitterly disappointed, but still extremely proud of what we’ve achieved in this year’s Dakar.”
This was the first engine problem that Toyota Gazoo Racing SA has experienced in half a decade. The Toyota Hilux has proven itself to be an extremely tough and reliable race car, but unfortunately Ten Brinke/Périn couldn’t finish the race.
At the other end of the spectrum, Qatar’s Al Attiyah and France’s Baumel powered through the 369 km-long stage, and completed the 560-km liaison without mishap. The pair had a perfectly clean run, and the Toyota Hilux ran like clockwork.
“We are extremely happy with the performance of the Toyota Hilux, and we have to give credit to the team that built it and prepares the car for the race each day,” said Al Attiyah after the monster stage. “At the same time, we’ve given our all on this event, and while we are very happy to be in second place at the moment, we still have our eyes on the top step of the podium.”
Behind the Qatari and French pairing, Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz showed their class by posting the third-fastest time on Stage 13, 13:06 behind Al Attiyah. The pair had spent nearly 14 hours in the Toyota Hilux on the day, and were very happy to reach the bivouac at Cordoba.
“It was an extremely long day, and the stage was a proper test,” said De Villiers. “We had a fairly good run, though we suffered a misfire in the second part of the stage. This cost us quite a bit of time, but even so we are happy to have completed the last long stage of this year’s Dakar. At the same time, we have to make sure that we stay ahead of Peterhansel tomorrow, so there’s still a bit of a race on.”
De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz are currently in third place in the general ranking, 01:20:00 behind overall leader Carlos Sainz (Peugeot). More importantly, they are 8 minutes ahead of Peugeot’s Peterhansel, in fourth place, so the final stage of the event might still have a sting in the tail.
Stage 14 is only 120 km in length, and is comprised mainly of rally tracks in the area around Cordoba. There is also a liaison of 166 km, but compared to the rest of the race, Stage 14 might have been nothing more than a formality, had the race not been quite as close as it is.
“As things stand, we have Nasser and Mathieu in second place, and Giniel and Dirk in third,” concluded Hall. “We’ll have to see what happens tomorrow, but at this point we can’t help but be pleased with our performance. For sure, we are disappointed that Bernard and Michel won’t finish the race, but to have two cars in the top three after one of the toughest Dakar Rallies ever is an amazing achievement.”
One other crew to highlight on Stage 13 is the Toyota Hilux pairing of Argentina’s Lucio Alvarez and South African navigator Rob Howie. The pair had lost significant time earlier in the race, but posted the second-fastest time on Stage 13, making it a Toyota Hilux whitewash of the top three positions.
The Dakar Rally draws to a close on January 20th, in the Argentine city of Cordoba. This 40th edition of the world’s toughest automotive race featured 14 stages, and covered three countries – Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.
STAGE 13 RESULTS:
1 N. Al Attiyah (TOYOTA) 05:02:22
2 L. Alvarez (Toyota) +11:16
3 G. De Villiers (TOYOTA) +13:06
4 J. Przygonski (Mini) +15:07
5 M. Hirvonen (Mini) +19:24
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 13:
1 C. Sainz (Peugeot) 47:46:30
2 N. Al Attiyah (TOYOTA) +00:46:18
3 G. De Villiers (TOYOTA) +01:20:00
4 S. Peterhansel (Peugeot) +01:28:08
5 J. Przygonski (Mini) +02:46:32