Toyota Gazoo Faces Trials in Dakar's Stage 9

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Toyota Gazoo Faces Trials in Dakar's Stage 9

In the recent 9th stage of the 2024 Dakar Rally, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing faced a challenging yet eventful day as their five GR IMT Hilux EVO race cars traversed the demanding 661km route from Ha'il to Alula. This stage, characterised by a diverse landscape of sand, dunes, and rocky paths, commenced with a 76km liaison and concluded with a 149km liaison.

Emerging as the top performers for the team, rookie driver Guy Botterill and his seasoned co-driver Brett Cummings demonstrated impressive skill and coordination, securing the 5th-fastest stage time, only 10 minutes and 1 second behind the stage victors. This performance solidified Botterill's 9th position in the rankings, trailing the lead by 2 hours, 29 minutes, and 51 seconds. With just three stages left, the duo is determined to maintain their position in the Top 10, a commendable feat for Botterill in his debut rally.

Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon aimed to fortify their third place overall. However, they faced challenges due to intricate navigation, finishing the stage 11 minutes and 3 seconds behind the leaders. Despite these hurdles, they retained their third position overall, with a 1 hour, 12 minute, and 2-second gap from the lead.

Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy began the stage strongly. Still, they encountered difficulties with a missed waypoint and subsequent navigation issues, culminating in a time loss of 19 minutes and 14 seconds, compounded by a 15-minute penalty. These setbacks led to a decline in their overall ranking, dropping from 5th to 8th.

Saood Variawa, alongside French co-driver Francois Cazalet, delivered consistent performances but faced a setback due to a malfunctioning water pressure sensor, which led to a time loss while addressing the issue. Despite this, they completed the stage 19 minutes and 50 seconds behind the leaders, holding 20th place overall.

Although out of contention for the overall rally, Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz remained focused on achieving favourable stage results to contribute points towards the 2024 World Rally-Raid Championship. However, Stage 9 proved challenging due to navigational and mechanical difficulties, resulting in a 20-minute and 21-second delay.

With three stages remaining, the rally presents formidable challenges, as evidenced by Stage 10's 371km course, set to test the competitors' endurance and skill across varied terrains. The penultimate stage will lead the rally towards Yanbu, setting the scene for the showdown on January 19.

Team principal Shameer Variawa expressed a mix of challenges and optimism, acknowledging the tricky navigation but taking pride in the resilience of the team's GR IMT Hilux T1Us. The team remains focused as the rally approaches its climax, understanding that the test is not over until the final stage concludes.

The drivers shared their experiences, highlighting the stage's complexities and beauty, navigation nuances, and the relentless spirit to persevere and adapt. Each team member's resolve and determination underscore the unpredictable and exhilarating nature of the Dakar Rally, a testament to both human and mechanical endurance.


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