Stage 6 of Dakar 2020 saw all four Toyota Gazoo Racing crews finish in the top ten, with Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Mathieu Baumel set a time just 3min 22sec behind stage winner Stephane Peterhansel (MINI), despite suffering a mid-stage puncture that cost them 1min 30sec.
This leaves the Toyota Hilux crew in second place overall at the mid-point of the race, 7min 48sec adrift after nearly 3,500km of timed stages.
“It was a really good day for us,”
said the 2019 Dakar winner, from the bivouac near the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.
“The stage today was long and fast, and we lost out in terms of top speed. But we’re still in the fight, and we are looking forward to the second week of the race.”
The 477km stage between the agricultural city of Ha’il and Riyadh featured some small dunes, together with high-speed sections that suited the two-wheel-drive buggies, but even so, all four Toyota Hilux crews set respectable times.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the performance of Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma, who was the second-fastest of the factory crews. The Spanish pairing placed 6th on the stage, trailing Peterhansel by 7min 56sec, after a puncture-free run.
Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul were 7th-fastest on the stage, as they benefitted from a number of tweaks to the suspension setup of their Toyota Hilux. Ten Brinke has also recovered from the flu that held him back over the last two stages, and the pair remain in 8th place in the overall standings, 1hr 12min 58sec behind the leaders.
It was a disappointing day for South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and Spanish co-driver Alex Haro. While the duo reported a clean run through the long stage, they found it challenging to match the pace of the front-runners, and they lost 11min 46sec on the day. They are still in 7th overall, 55min 41sec behind.
“We were hoping for more dunes today,”
said Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Principal, Glyn Hall, after the stage.
“As it turned out, the buggies had a clear advantage over the fast terrain, and while Giniel tried his best to push, he just couldn’t quite stay in touch with the leading pack.”
Stage 6 also marked the mid-point of the race, as the Dakar reached the traditional Rest Day. This is an opportunity for the race crews to relax for a day, while the technical crews strip and rebuild the race cars in preparation for the second week of the race.
The 2020 Dakar Rally moves to the Empty Quarter of the Arabian peninsula on Sunday, and is scheduled to finish near Riyadh on Friday, January 17th.
2020 Dakar Rally Day 6 Results:
3rd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +3 min. 22sec
6th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +7 min. 56 sek.
7th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +9 min. 37sec
8th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +10 min. 48sec
2020 Dakar Rally Overall Results After Day 6:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +7 min. 48sec
7th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +55 min. 41sec
8th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +1hr 12 min. 58sec
16th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +3hrs 18 min. 13sec
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