Fifth Dakar rally win for Toyota’s Al-Attiyah as co-driver Baumel seals win number four
The Qatari led the world’s toughest cross-country rally from the third stage and reached the finish in Dammam with a 1hr 20min 49sec advantage over Frenchman Sébastien Loeb, his main rival in the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC).
The win means that Al-Attiyah becomes the second most successful car entrant in the history of the event behind eight-time winner Stéphane Peterhansel. He had been tied with the legendary Finn Ari Vatanen on four wins. He won three of the eight stages before the rest day in Riyadh and then went on the defensive to preserve his Toyota Hilux T1+ to earn Toyota a third victory in five years after successes in 2019 and 2022.
Al-Attiyah said: “It was a difficult Dakar for everyone. It’s crazy to manage to defend my title. I’m very happy to win five times, and Mathieu four… Sorry, Mathieu! I respect Ari enormously, he’s still my idol. I always want to win more and more, now I wish to defend my world champion’s title. We didn’t have to attack like crazy. We managed to get through the second week and win the Dakar at the end, that’s what really matters. ”
Sébastien Loeb’s fightback to finish second overall in a Prodrive Hunter BRX with Belgian co-driver Fabian Lurquin kept him firmly in the hunt to challenge for the W2RC title this season. The nine-time World Rally Champion won seven of the 14 stages, including a run of six successive wins that shattered Ari Vatanen’s run of five set with the factory Peugeot team back in 1989. Loeb (87pts) actually holds a two-point advantage over Al-Attiyah (85pts) after the event.
Co-driver Lurquin said: “We lost a lot of time at the start of the rally and cannot be fully happy. Taking into consideration those big delays and still finishing in second place with seven stages wins we can be happy with that. We will try again next year. ”
Loeb’s second-week surge through the rankings enabled him to displace the Overdrive Racing crew of Brazilian Dakar rookie Lucas Moraes and German co-driver Timo Gottschalk to snatch second overall. The bottom step of the podium was still a superb result for Moraes, however , who recorded the best ever finish on the event by a Brazilian.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing duo of Giniel de Villiers and Henk Lategan were not registered for W2RC points either but reached the finish in fourth and fifth overall with their co-drivers, Dennis Murphy and Brett Cummings. Lategan had been running as high as second overall before suspension issues and a roll pushed him down the rankings.
The Czech crew of Martin Prokop and Viktor Chytka finished sixth overall in their Ford Raptor RS Cross-Country and were third of the registered W2RC finishers. Overdrive Racing’s Juan Cruz Yacopini and Daniel Oliveras climbed from 10 th in Riyadh to finish seventh overall in a Toyota Hilux, the feat giving the Japanese manufacturer seven places inside the top 10.
The Chinese SMG HW Buggy crew of Wei Han and Ma Li finished eighth overall, fifth in W2RC and were the top registered two-wheel drive crew.
The Dakar debut of the new X-raid Mini John Cooper Works Plus got off to a slow start with a series of punctures and niggling technical issues during the first week but Argentina’s Sebastien Halpern and Bernando Graue recovered strongly to complete ninth overall and sixth in W2RC. Polish team mate Jakub Przygonski teamed up with Spaniard Armand Monleón and was 18 th overall.
Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq rounded off the very best 10 in the second of the surviving Prodrive Hunters, the French crew winning stages three and 14 in between some delays and technical issues during the course of the rally. The stage results mean that Chicherit holds third in the Drivers’ Championship with 49 points.
Nine stage wins for Bahrain Raid Xtreme enabled the Prodrive outfit to amass 66 points towards the W2RC Manufacturers’ crown. They now lead Toyota Gazoo Racing by one point with the X-raid Mini JCT Team in third and BAIC ORV in fourth.
Mathieu Serradori and Loic Minaudier began the final stage in ninth overall but suffered engine issues after just 10km and were forced to wait for assistance. The delay dropped the Frenchman to an eventual 12 th overall in his Century CR6 Biggy.
Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Dirk von Zitzewitz had been running as high as second overall before stopping to assist Toyota team-mate Lategan when he hit suspension trouble. The sporting gesture cost the Saudi any chance of a top finish, after earlier wheel hub issues, although he was quickest overall on stage seven.
Team Audi Sport’s disappointing second Dakar with the latest evolution of the electric-powered RS Q e-tron was rescued by a solid 14 th overall for the Swedish duo of Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist. The motor sport all-rounder had won the Prologue on New Year’s Eve.
Dakar legend Stéphane Peterhansel crashed out of contention before the rest day and Carlos Sainz’s dismal Dakar ended on the ninth stage: the Spaniard crashed into the front of a dune after just six kilometres. The three-time winner had opted to wait for his assistance truck and continue Audi’s Dakar adventure but the RS Q e-tron was too badly damaged and the Spaniard was forced to throw in the towel once damage have been assessed by the team at the bivouac.
Sainz said: It was a typical Dakar accident. Two metres to the left or two metres to the right and it would have been okay, but it was a big hole. Probably I was two metres to the left or 3kph slower, it would have been okay. I felt a little bit of pain in my back and in my neck and, of course, it was the second crash in a few days and it was a hard impact. It’s a large disappointment because it was a hard rally for us. ”
Austin Jones follows T4 success with T3 glory in 2023
Arizona-based Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BF Goodrich Can-Am driver Austin Jones followed up last year’s T4 category win with success in the T3 lightweight prototype section at his first attempt.
Jones and Brazilian co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin hit the front on the 11 th stage when electrical gremlins cost Belgian driver Guillaume de Mévius and French co-pilot François Cazalet valuable time within their GRallyteam OT3. De Mevius recovered well to finish third overall with Jones finishing 52min 05sec in front of his team-mates Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz. Jones and Gugelmin also lead their respective T3 Drivers’ and Co-drivers’ Championships by six points.
The triumphant American said: “The last stage was pretty tough. There was a lot of mud, got a little stressed out about it, but we made it through to the finish. This has been the toughest Dakar that I have ever done. We’ve had ups and downs, but we just stayed consistent, did our thing and look at us, back-to-back, huh? We’re super happy, big shout-out to all the team and my navigator, Gustavo, did a good job. It had been a nice little road trip around Saudi Arabia. I can’t think about next year now, but I’ll be back. ”
With De Mévius not registered for the W2RC series, points for third overall went to the fourth-placed Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team crew of Cristina Gutiérrez and Pablo Moreno Huete, who won the Prologue and the last stage. Three-time Dakar winner and defending champion Francisco López came home in fifth place with co-driver Juan Pablo Latrach.
Mitch Guthrie and Kellon Walch led after stage four and won six special stages in their prototype T3M MCE-5 but technical issues prior to the rest day cost them heaps of time and they finished well down the rankings.
Rookie Pole Eryk Goczal tastes T4 glory
Not only did he become the youngest ever winner of a special stage in the history of the Dakar Rally, but 18-year-old Eryk Goczal snatched a dramatic victory in the T4 category on the final stage in his Cobant-Energylandia Rally Team Can-Am run by South Racing.
The young Pole and his co-driver Oriol Mena had shadowed Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team racer Rokas Baciuška and his Spanish navigator Oriol Vidal since the seventh stage. But a technical delay on the last special between Al-Hofuf and Damman was costly for the Lithuanian and he slipped to second place. Goczal now leads his rival by seven points in the W2RC T4 standings.
An emotional young Eryk Goczal said: “I finished my first Dakar. I cannot be more grateful for the moment. I made the decision to go with my family to fight for the first position. The risk may not have paid off today and we had some trouble on the way but we gave it our best shot and we won. ”
A two-minute time penalty for the Polish crew of Marek Goczal and Maciej Marton prevented them from also overhauling Baciuška and snatching second place on the final day, but third overall was a superb result for the winner’s father nonetheless.
Argentina’s Jeremías Ferioli came home in fourth in his South Racing Can-Am and Spain’s Gerard Farrés rounded off the most notable five.
Van Kasteren, Snijders and Rodewald win T5 truck category
Janus van Kasteren, fellow Dutch team-mate Marcel Snijders and Pole Darek Rodewald won the T5 truck category by 1hr 14min 34sec and claimed 113 W2RC T5 points in their Boss Machinery Team de Rooy Iveco.
Van Kasteren said: “It’s not easy, you need to go full gas all the time. Everybody had some problems last week, and so did we. We lost 15 minutes because we ran out of fuel. We managed it until the end and we’re really happy with that. We made the difference three days before the end, when we won by 30 minutes over the rest. ”
They were pushed hard for much of the event by Martin Macík, František Tomášek and David Švanda until the Czech trio lost time stuck in mud on stage nine and had ongoing suspension issues on their MM Technology Iveco Powerstar. They finished second overall, runners-up in the W2RC rankings with 102 points and well clear of the third-placed W2RC crew of Tomas Vratny, Bartolomiej Boba and Jaromir Martinec (66pts).
Last year’s W2RC T5 champion Kees Koolen and Dutch team-mates Wouter de Graaf and Wouter Rosegaar retired their Iveco before stage 11 after long delays and technical issues after the rest day.
The rest day T5-leading Czech crew of Aleš Loprais, Petr Pokora and Jaroslav Valtr Junior retired their Praga after it was involved in a fatal collision on the blind crest of a sand dune with 69-year-old Italian spectator Livio Sassinotti.
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota GR DKR Hilux 45hr 03min 15sec
2 . Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Fabian Lurquin (BEL) Prodrive Hunter BRX 46hr 24min 04sec
3. Lucas Moraes (BRA)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 46hr 41min 46sec*
4. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dennis Murphy (ZAF) Toyota GR DKR Hilux 47hr 34min 27sec *
5. Henk Lategan (ZAF)/Brett Cummings (ZAF) Toyota GR DKR Hilux 47hr 39min 38sec*
6. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Viktor Chytka (CZE) Ford Raptor RS Cross-Country 48hr 43min 59sec
7. Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Oliveras (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 49hr 30min 24sec
8. Wei Han (CHN)/Ma Li (CHN) SMG HW 2021 Buggy 49hr 32min 36sec
9. Sebastien Halpern (ARG)/Bernardo Graue (ARG) Mini John Cooper Works Buggy 49hr 45min 53sec
10. Guerlain Chicherit (FRA)/Alex Winocq (FRA) Prodrive Hunter BRX 50hr 25min 25sec
*Denotes not registered for W2RC
Prologue Mathias Ekström (Audi)
SS1-SS2 Carlos Sainz (Audi)
SS3-SS14 Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
Prologue Mathias Ekström (Audi)
SS1 Carlos Sainz (Audi)
SS2 Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
SS3 Guerlain Chicherit (Prodrive Hunter)
SS4 Sébastien Loeb (Prodrive Hunter)
SS5 Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
SS6 Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
SS7 Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Toyota)
SS8 Sébastien Loeb (Prodrive Hunter)
SS9 Sébastien Loeb (Prodrive Hunter)
SS10 Sébastien Loeb (Prodrive Hunter)
SS12 Sébastien Loeb (Prodrive Hunter)
SS13 Sébastien Loeb (Prodrive Hunter)
SS14 Guerlain Chicherit (Prodrive Hunter)
FIA T3 standings :
1. Austin Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 51hr 55min 53sec
2. Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (DEU) Can-Am Maverick X3 52hr 47min 58sec
3. Guillaume de Mévius (BEL)/François Cazalet (FRA) GRallyteam OT3 53hr 31min 35sec*
4. Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP)/Pablo Moreno Huete (ESP) Can-Am Factory Maverick X3 54hr 52min 13sec
*Denotes not registered for W2RC
FIA T4 standings :
1 . Eryk Goczal (POL)/Oriol Mena (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 53hr 10min 14sec
repayments Rokas Baciuška (LTU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 53hr 26min 58sec
3. Marek Goczal (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 53hr 28min 29sec
4. Jeremías Ferioli (ARG)/Pedro Rinaldi (ARG) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 54hr 17min 14sec*
*Denotes not registered for W2RC
FIA T5 standings (W2RC registered crews only) :
1 ) Janus van Kasteren (NLD)/Darek Rodewald (POL)/Marcel Snijders (NLD) Iveco 54hr 03min 33sec
2. Martin Macík (CZE)/František Tomášek (CZE)/David Švanda (CZE) Iveco 55hr 16min 07sec
3. Tomas Vratny (CZE)/Bartolomiej Boba (POL)/Jaromír Martinec (CZE) Tatra 68hr 27min 25sec
Kees Koolen (NLD)/Wouter de Graaf (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) Iveco RETIRED