Short route forces Al-Attiyah to settle for second place in Dakar – three Hilux bakkies in top ten
Riyadh – When the 12th and final stage of the Dakar Rally was shortened by 167 km due to security concerns, it effectively robbed last year’s winner, Nasser Al-Attiyah of his chance to catch the winner, Carlos Sainz.
Al-Attiyah competed as one of four Toyota teams in purpose-built Hilux bakkies from South Africa. Sainz again competed in a Mini, which often outpaced the Hiluxes in the earlier stages as the Mini can attain a higher top speed.
All four Hilux teams completed the rally with three ending in the top ten rankings.
In the final stage, Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel pushed their car very hard, eventually winning the stage but the time gain was not sufficient to close the gap between them and Sainz for the overall first position. Nevertheless, the number 1 Hilux team finished only 6 minutes 21 seconds behind Sainz in his Mini.
Al-Attiyah recorded the fastest time of the day, notching up the team’s second stage victory of the race and closing the gap by more than 3 minutes. This was good enough to fend off Mini’s Stephane Peterhansel, who had his eyes on the second place; but it was not fast enough to attain the top step of the podium. Had the stage been the intended length, Al-Attiyah/Baumel had a good chance of finishing victorious again.
“It was a tough fight,” said Al-Attiyah after the race finished in the entertainment complex of Qiddiyah, 40km from the city centre of Riyadh. “Unfortunately, we just lost too much time to punctures, a penalty and one navigational mistake. It cost us the victory, but we’ll be back to fight again next year.”
Dakar 2020, the 42nd edition of the world’s most gruelling endurance race, was held in Saudi Arabia. It ended on Friday 17 January on the outskirts of the capital, Riyadh.
2020 Dakar Rally Top Five after Stage 12 in the category for Cars:
1st – Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz in a Mini.
2nd Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel in a Hilux.
3rd Stéphane Peterhansel and Paulo Fiuza in a Mini.
4th Yazeed Al Rajhi and Konstantin Zhiltsov, also in a Toyota but from a different team.
5th Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro Bravo in a Hilux.