And here’s a video with the highlights from day 3:
It was a day of consolidation for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser al Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel.
The Qatari and his French navigator posted the second-fastest time of the day, trailing Stage 3 winner, Carlos Sainz (MINI) by just 3min 31sec.
However, Al Attiyah/Baumel’s performance was tempered by a penalty that was awarded post-stage, due to an infringement at one of the speed control zones in the stage. This has seen the crew drop down to 5th on the stage, but they are still second in the overall standings – 7min 55sec behind Sainz.
The pair drove their South African-built Toyota Hilux through the spectacular scenery of the 427 km-long special stage, which started and ended at the future city of Neom on the Red Sea coast, suffering only a single puncture on the day.
The stage was opened by Giniel de Villiers and his Spanish co-driver, Alex Haro, who won Stage 2. Picking their way through the rock-strewn landscape was tricky, and the pair were forced to adopt a slower pace. They managed to clear the stage without any punctures, but dropped 16min 21sec on the day. This leaves the South African motorsport legend in 7th place in the overall standings, with plenty of racing to come.
Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke, together with his Belgian co-driver, Tom Colsoul, were hamstrung by their starting position on Stage 3. They started as the 15th car into the stage, after a poor result on Stage 2. This put them amongst some slower competitors, losing time in the dust. They also suffered two flats, but managed to restrict their time loss for the day to 16min 43sec. As things stand, the pair are in 8th place in the overall standings, and are upbeat about their chances going forward.
Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma had a spectacular day. The Spanish duo went 4th-fastest on Stage 3, and even though they remain well out of contention in the overall standings, the former F1 champion was excited by a good day in the Toyota Hilux.
“Overall, it was a really solid day for the team,” said TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Team Principal, Glyn Hall, from the bivouac at Neom.
“Nasser and Mathieu are in the perfect position, and we are really happy with Fernando and Marc’s performance. Giniel and Bernard both did well, despite facing some challenges on the day.”
Stage 4 is up next, and will see the crews travel from Neom to the city of Al Ula, via a stage of 672 km. This includes a special stage of 453 km, which will be run on a mix of sandy tracks and rocky traverses. The race is scheduled to finish in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh on Friday, 17 January.
2020 Dakar Rally Day 3 Results:
4th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +6min 14sec
5th No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +6min 31sec
9th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +16min 21sec
10th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +16min 43sec
2020 Dakar Rally Overall Results After Day 3:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +7min 55sec
7th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +23min 42sec
8th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +33min 23sec
30th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +2hrs 40min 24sec
The Minis are on point today. Peterhansel is currently in the lead, followed closely by Terranova. Rajhi is in third in a privately-entered Hilux, followed by Nasser Al-Attiyah in fourth. Giniel de Villiers is in fifth, followed closely by Ten Brinke. Alonso seems to be struggling today, as he dropped down to 17th place, eight minutes behind Peterhansel. Carlos Sainz had dropped down to eight, despite leading the pack this morning.
Many competitors have reached the 80 km long neutralisation —an opportunity to catch their breath before tackling the second part of the special. The first cars are waiting for the green light to start the final part.
The first cars are starting to come through waypoint PK346. Peterhansel is in the lead, Al-Attiyah in second and Sainz in third. At the previous waypoint Alonso dropped down to 11th, while Giniel de Villiers was in sixth.
Victory on stage 4 of the Dakar rally from Neom to Al-Ula went to Stephane Peterhansel in his Mini inspired Buggy by 2 minutes and 26 seconds over of Nasser Al Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel in their South African built Toyota Hilux. The Toyota Gazoo racing pairing clawed back some time in the overall standings too as they finished 5 minutes and 52 seconds ahead of overall leader Carlos Sainz, reducing the gap to 3 minutes and 3 seconds.
In the motorcycle category Botswana boytjie Ross Branch made an epic comeback, after starting the days stage in 46th, he arrived in the bivouac in a provisional 4th position for the stage only 1 minute and 6 seconds behind stage winner Sam Sunderland
Update from Toyota
Only 2min 26sec separated TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) and his French co-driver, Mathieu Baumel, from the winners of Stage 4 of the 2020 Dakar Rally, Stephane Peterhansel (MINI). The pair recorded a clean run to move them to 3min 3sec behind race leader Carlos Sainz (MINI). This despite receiving a 3min penalty on Stage 3.
“Nasser and Mathieu had a fantastic stage today,” said TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Team Principal, Glyn Hall, after the pair reached the bivouac near the central Saudi Arabian city of Al Ula. “The Toyota Hilux ran absolutely perfectly, and they didn’t have a single puncture.”
Punctures, however, were at the order of the day for the rest of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crews. South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, together with his Spanish co-driver, Alex Haro, suffered three punctures – two of them coming within 100m of each other.
“It was just one of those days. We had good pace when we were going, but the punctures really put us on the back foot,” said De Villiers from Al Ula. “We had to drive the last 100km without a spare, so we couldn’t take any chances.”
De Villiers / Haro went 6th fastest on the stage, surrendering 18min 16sec to Peterhansel on the day. Despite this, the Toyota crew are still in contention, 34min 40sec behind Sainz in the overall standings.
There were also punctures for Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul (Belgium), who exited the stage with the rubber on the left rear worn down to the wheelrim. Ten Brinke was also fighting a bout of flu, not to mention a troublesome gearbox, yet managed to post the 7th-fastest time on the day, 18min 35sec behind the stage winners. They are now in 8th place overall, 44min 40sec behind the front runners.
Punctures also punctuated the stage for the Spanish duo of Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma. The pair suffered three punctures, and had to negotiate the last 200km of the stage without any spare wheels. It was nerve-racking end to an otherwise good stage, which saw them finish 26min 21sec behind the stage winners. They were upbeat after completing yet another Dakar stage.
“Overall, it was a good day for us,” concluded Hall. “Nasser did a great job of making up time without any punctures; while the rest of the crews managed to restrict their time loss despite struggling with flat tyres.”
Stage 5 will see the crews race from Al Ula to the city of Ha’il via a stage of 564km, including a racing section of 353km. The terrain promises to be sandier than that encountered so far, which may suit the Toyota Hilux – as well as its BF Goodrich tyres – more than the extremely rocky tracks that play havoc with the rubber.
The 2020 Dakar Rally is the 42nd edition of the iconic race, and is taking place in Saudi Arabia for the first time. Twelve competitive stages make up the race, which is scheduled to conclude in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Friday, January 17th.
2020 Dakar Rally Day 4 Results:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +2min 26sec
6th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +18min 16sec
8th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +18min 35sec
13th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +26min 21sec
2020 Dakar Rally Overall Results After Day 4:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +3min 3sec
7th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +34min 40sec
8th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +44min 40sec
20th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +2hrs 59min 27sec