Nasser al-Attiyah

Qatari Nasser al-Attiyah won the first special of the Dakar Rally on Sunday to extend his race lead after victory in the prologue. Image: Quickpic

Dakar 2021: Hat-trick of stage wins for Al-Attiyah in homegrown Toyota Hilux

Proudly South African: Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah charged to a third consecutive stage win in the Dakar Rally on Wednesday 6 January 2021.

Nasser al-Attiyah

Qatari Nasser al-Attiyah won the first special of the Dakar Rally on Sunday to extend his race lead after victory in the prologue. Image: Quickpic

Stage 4 of the Dakar Rally, which took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, saw Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel recorded their third consecutive stage win when they brought their Toyota Hilux home in the fastest time on the route between Wadi Ad-Dawasir and the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

The South African team has been competing in the latest version of the Toyota Hilux, built and developed at the team’s HQ near the iconic Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, in Johannesburg. The current car is based on the race-proven Hilux that was introduced in 2018, and features a mid-mounted engine, independent rear suspension and all-wheel drive. 

toyota hilux dakar
The Toyota Gazoo Racing team, which has been claiming consecutive stage wins in the Dakar Rally, is powered by a locally engineered Toyota Hilux. Image:

Henk Lategan, Brett Cummings move into Top 5

The pair were kept honest by Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings, who were third on the stage — and have now moved up into fifth place in the overall standings.

“It was another blistering stage for Nasser and Mathieu today, as they sealed their third consecutive stage win, and their second on the trot while opening the road,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal, Glyn Hall, from the bivouac at Riyadh.

“Henk and Brett had another fantastic day, too, and were it not for a tyre delaminating near the end of the stage, they may well have won today.”

The rookie crew bested their illustrious teammates through several waypoints, but in the end the tyre cost them 1min 30sec over Al-Attiyah/Baumel. This performance showed skill and maturity, and the pair have moved into the Top 5 in the overall standings as a result.

Al-Attiyah ‘chipping away’ at Peterhansel’s lead

Ahead of them, Al-Attiyah has been steadily chipping away at Stephane Peterhansel’s lead. The MINI driver is still 4min 58sec ahead of the Qatari, but the Toyota Hilux crew is doing everything in their power to catch up.

Further back, Dakar veteran Giniel de Villiers and navigator Alex Haro initially looked on course for a solid result, but lost 14min 57sec after a navigational error near the end of the stage.

Despite this, the pair moved up into 23rd position due to the demise of fellow Toyota Hilux driver Bernhard ten Brinke, who destroyed his car in a rollover during Stage 3. De Villiers suffered from a pain in his neck throughout the stage, and had to reduce speed in the rough sections as a result.

Shameer Variawa and Dennis Murphy had a better day on Stage 4, suffering no punctures and losing only a few minutes due to a small navigational error near the end of the stage. Overall, they lost 25min 26sec on the stage, mainly because of the dust that surrounded them thanks to their poor starting position – a result of their woes earlier in the race.

Stage 5 a ‘long and hard’ test

Next up is Stage 5, which stretches between the Saudi capital of Riyadh and the town of Al Qaisumah, to the North. The special stage is 456km in length, and the organisers describe it as a ‘long’ and ‘hard’ test.

Dunes, stones, and sandy tracks will all come into play, and the crews will also have to complete a liaison of 205km. Dakar 2021 will reach the rest day after Stage 6, which will see the bivouac set in the area near Ha’il, before embarking on the second week of the race.

Toyota Gazoo Racing Dakar Rally Stage 4 Results:

  • 1st Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, 2hr 35min 59sec
  • 3rd Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings, +1min 30sec
  • 15th Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +14min 57sec
  • 27th Shameer Variawa/Dennis Murphy, +25min 26sec

Toyota Gazoo Racing Dakar Rally Overall Results After Stage 4:

  • 2nd Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +4min 58sec
  • 5th Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings, +48min 44sec
  • 23rd Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +2hr 0min 51sec
  • 42nd Shameer Variawa/Dennis Murphy, +4hr 59min 28sec