Al-Attiyah / Baumel closes in on Dakar 2020 lead

Only 2min 26sec separated Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) and his French co-driver, Mathieu Baumel, from the winners of Stage 4 of the 2020 Dakar Rally, Stephane Peterhansel (MINI).

Al-Attiyah / Baumel closes in on Dakar 2020 lead
Image Supplied by Toyota South Africa

The pair recorded a clean run to move them to 3min 3sec behind race leader Carlos Sainz (MINI). This despite receiving a 3min penalty on Stage 3.

“Nasser and Mathieu had a fantastic stage today,”

said Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Principal, Glyn Hall, after the pair reached the bivouac near the central Saudi Arabian city of Al Ula.

“The Toyota Hilux ran absolutely perfectly, and they didn’t have a single puncture.”

Punctures, however, were at the order of the day for the rest of the Toyota Gazoo Racing crews. South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, together with his Spanish co-driver, Alex Haro, suffered three punctures – two of them coming within 100m of each other.

“It was just one of those days. We had good pace when we were going, but the punctures really put us on the back foot,”

said De Villiers from Al Ula.

“We had to drive the last 100km without a spare, so we couldn’t take any chances.”

De Villiers / Haro went 6th fastest on the stage, surrendering 18min 16sec to Peterhansel on the day. Despite this, the Toyota crew are still in contention, 34min 40sec behind Sainz in the overall standings.

There were also punctures for Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul (Belgium), who exited the stage with the rubber on the left rear worn down to the wheelrim. Ten Brinke was also fighting a bout of flu, not to mention a troublesome gearbox, yet managed to post the 7th-fastest time on the day, 18min 35sec behind the stage winners. They are now in 8th place overall, 44min 40sec behind the front runners.

Punctures also punctuated the stage for the Spanish duo of Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma. The pair suffered three punctures, and had to negotiate the last 200km of the stage without any spare wheels. It was nerve-racking end to an otherwise good stage, which saw them finish 26min 21sec behind the stage winners. They were upbeat after completing yet another Dakar stage.

“Overall, it was a good day for us,”

concluded Hall.

“Nasser did a great job of making up time without any punctures; while the rest of the crews managed to restrict their time loss despite struggling with flat tyres.”

Stage 5 will see the crews race from Al Ula to the city of Ha’il via a stage of 564km, including a racing section of 353km. The terrain promises to be sandier than that encountered so far, which may suit the Toyota Hilux – as well as its BF Goodrich tyres – more than the extremely rocky tracks that play havoc with the rubber.

The 2020 Dakar Rally is the 42nd edition of the iconic race, and is taking place in Saudi Arabia for the first time. Twelve competitive stages make up the race, which is scheduled to conclude in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Friday, January 17th.

2020 Dakar Rally Day 4 Results:

2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +2min 26sec

6th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +18min 16sec

8th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +18min 35sec

13th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +26min 21sec

2020 Dakar Rally Overall Results After Day 4:

2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +3min 3sec

7th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +34min 40sec

8th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +44min 40sec

20th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +2hrs 59min 27sec

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