Toyota Gazoo Racing all set for second week of Dakar 2024



All five Toyota Gazoo Racing crews successfully completed one of the most gruelling stages in the history of the Dakar Rally.


The 48 Hour Chrono, which served as Stage 6 of the 2024 edition of the race, took place over a two-day period, with the race crews overnighting at one of seven bivouacs, based on their position along the stage. The leading GR IMT Hilux EVO T1U crew was Lucas Moraes and Arand Monleon, who posted the 4th-fastest time over the 547 km timed section.

The stage started and finished at the bivouac near Shubaytah, on the edge of Saudi Arabia's so-called Empty Quarter, after which the race crews were flown to the bivouac at Riyadh, while the cars were ferried to the same location. Lucas and Armand's performance vaulted them up the order to 4th in the overall standings, where they now trail the leaders by 1hr 4min.

Stage 6 was also a good one for Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy. The GR IMT Hilux EVO crew recorded a clean run despite the sea of tricky dunes, bringing their car to the finish in 8th place - just 37min 04sec behind the winners. They, too, have moved up the order to 6th overall, and are well in touch with the leading pack.

Seth Quintero had stated before the start of the stage that he would love to win the 48 Hour Chrono, and the Californian certainly gave it a good shot. But a stage win escaped him and co-driver Dennis Zenz, as they set the 12th-fastest time, 49min 05sec behind the winners. The pair remain out of contention in the overall ranking after a setback earlier in the race but will continue to fight for stage wins during the second week of the race.

Teammates Guy Botterill and co-driver, Brett Cummings, completed the 48 Hour Chrono just 1min 28sec slower than Seth and Dennis, clearly showing their potential, despite a relative lack of experience in the dunes. The #243 TGR crew went 13th-fastest on the tough stage and have moved into 8th place on the overall standings - capping an excellent opening week in Saudi Arabia.

Rookie driver, Saood Variawa, and his co-driver, Francois Cazalet, initially lost some time on Stage 6 due to a gear selection problem. But once they sorted the problem, they quickly picked up the pace. Were it not for a bad bout of motion sickness that curtailed their progress, they may well have finished the stage much higher up the order.

In the end, the GR IMT Hilux EVO crew recorded the 44th-fastest time on the Chrono but continue to learn every day. At only 18 years of age, Saood is one of the youngest works drivers in the history of the Dakar, and while his pace is undeniable, he is keen on building experience throughout this first Dakar Rally.

Stage 6 brought the rally to the Saudi capital of Riyadh, where the Rest Day will take place on Saturday, 13 January. While the Rest Day offers some respite for the race crews, it is a time of frantic activity for the technicians, who will fully strip and rebuild the cars for the second week of the rally.

With the Rest Day marking the mid-point of the rally, the race crews will also be taking a moment to reflect on the opening week of the race. For TGR's five crews, the results were mixed, but included a first stage victory for Lucas and Armand. This was also a maiden stage win for TGR's new GR Hilux EVO and was a highlight of the opening week.

Unfortunately, the week was also punctuated by many punctures, a small rollover for Lucas/Armand, and severe damage to the engine in Seth/Dennis' car, which saw the pair drop out of contention for the overall victory. This was a major disappointment, but Seth and Dennis will now be aiming to bag as many World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) points as possible over the remainder of the race.

The Dakar Rally will resume on Sunday, 14 January, with Stage 7. This stage will take the rally from the bivouac at Riyadh back to the town of Al Duwadimi via a route of 873km, including a timed section of 483km. From Al Duwadimi, the action moves to Ha'il, before snaking its way to Alula, where the rally started on 6 January. The final two stages will take place in the area surrounding the coastal city of Yanbu, where the event will finish on Friday, 19 January.




Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal:

We are extremely pleased with our results on the first ever 48 Hour Chrono stage. This was a long, tough test for both the crews and the cars, and we are very happy to have them all safely back in the bivouac. Now, our focus will turn to preparing the cars for the second week of the rally, which promises to be just as tough as the first.”


Lucas Moraes:

For us it was really great because we started the stage in 10th overall and ended up in 4th. We made quite a jump in the standings, which was really important for us after a tough Stage 5. But we just have to give it to the team: The car was perfect the whole marathon stage. We kept plugging away both days, no stopping and at a good pace as well. We managed to get 4th on the stage and jump to 4th overall. Couldn't be happier with the first week. We got a stage win for the team as well. Just looking forward to the next week.”


Giniel de Villiers: 

It was a very hard stage. Just endless sand and dunes; really soft sand and hard dunes to climb. We had to manage our fuel a little bit. We finished with five litres of fuel at the refuel stop. So, you know, the last 60km we really had to try to keep the revs below 3,500. But we managed to make it. And then, obviously, we camped in the desert and did the other 150km this morning. But a super tough stage. We moved up a couple of places overall. So, I think we deserve a nice rest day to get ready for the second week, which looks equally tough.”


Seth Quintero: 

“The Chrono stage was tough. I love the concept; I love racing for two days straight. It was really a big marathon stage and then getting to hang out with everybody at whatever camp you made it to. Can't say I'm the biggest fan of 600 kilometres of dunes, to be honest. That's just me, I'm not a big dune guy. But no, other than that, it was a really fun time hanging out with everybody at night, making food, and it was like a Dakar spirit type thing. Going into the second week, it's everything to gain, nothing to lose at this point. So, we're gonna go out and at the minimum try to get top three every day. We've really got absolutely nothing to lose. We'll be 100% all day long, every day, and we'll see what happens.”


Guy Botterill: 

“Unbelievable, this 48 Hour Stage was no joke, it was just dune after dune after dune. In the first bits of dunes the guys pulled me quite a lot as I was learning, and then the second half of the dunes I managed to hang onto them, and then at the end, I felt comfortable enough to have a go and overtake them and push a little bit faster. We made it to the end, but it was really difficult, especially if you've never been in dunes like that before. Brett, I know I've said it a few times, but he's done an absolutely amazing job keeping us on the right track. A lot of the time, there were really difficult waypoints and he managed to get them, so really chuffed with that. And yeah, for us to be in the top 10 for the first half of Dakar is phenomenal. My main goal was to first of all get to the rest day, and now we reset again and start again in a day's time.”


Saood Variawa: 

“Super tough, it was crazy! The Chrono Stage in the Empty Quarter was insane. And to make it 10 times worse, I was nauseous from early in the stage. I stopped twice not feeling well the whole of yesterday. At the bivouac I got some meds from the medic. And today was actually quite good, our pace was decent. We caught a lot of guys ahead, passed them, and at least we're at the end of the first half of the race.”



1. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) 07h 21min 56sec
2. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz  (Team Audi Sport) +02:01
3. #207 M. Ekstrom / E. Berg (Team Audi Sport) +10:55
4. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +22:45
5. #302 E. Goczal / O. Mena (Energylandia Rally Team) +28:45
6. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq (Overdrive Racing) +34:05
7. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka (Orlen Jipcar Team) +36:34
8. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +37:04
9. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri (Overdrive Racing) +41:28
10. #310 M. Goczal / S. Gospodarczyk (Energylandia Rally Team) +44:33
12. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +49:05
13. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +50:33
44. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +01:54:42



1. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz (Team Audi Sport) 24h 59min 32sec
2. #207 M. Ekstrom / E. Berg (Team Audi Sport) +20:21
3. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) +29:31
4. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +01:04:00
5. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri (Overdrive Racing) +01:09:47
6. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +01:25:16
7. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka (Orlen Jipcar Team) +01:35:04
8. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +01:49:31
9. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier (Century Racing) +01:52:20
10. #302 E. Goczal / O. Mena (Energylandia Rally Team) +01:52:30
28. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +04:06:06
105. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz (Toyota GAZOO Racing) +40:56:33


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