Toyota Gazoo Racing driver, Nasser Al-Attiyah, is within striking distance for the overall lead for the 2020 Dakar rally after completing Stage 9.
At the completion of the day's racing, Al-Attiyah crossed the finish line 15 seconds behind stage winner, Stephane Peterhansel (Mini), but crucially he cut 6min16sec off overall leader, Carlos Sainz’s (Mini) time.
This means that Al-Attiyah is now only 24sec behind Sainz and could, potentially, seize the lead over the remainder of the race.
Before the stage got underway, Al-Attiyah and co-driver, Mathieu Baumel, predicted a ‘high-speed chase’ between them and the Mini’s. Having started in eleventh place, Al-Attiyah took no prisoners as he continued his mission of winning the Dakar for a second consecutive year – the first time in his Dakar career.
Having posted the eighth fastest time in Stage 9, Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro remain in sixth position overall. De Villiers, the only South African in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Team, was left stunned by Al-Attiyah’s blistering pace after reaching the bivouac at Haradh.
He said: “The pace at which Nasser and the two Mini's are going, is crazy. I honestly don’t know how they’re doing it, but I just hope Nasser can keep it up to the finish.”
Just behind De Villiers in the overall classification is team mate Bernhard ten Brinke. They finished the stage in seventh place and, at the same time, moved up to seventh place overall. Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma started the day in second place, but soon became the first car on the road following early troubles for Stage 8 winner, Mathieu Serradori. This effectively meant that they had to clean the road for everyone behind.
The Spanish duo recorded the ninth best time of the day and, in so doing, moved into the Top 10 overall - despite having to change a flat tyre.
According to the team report, Stage 10 is the away leg of the feared Marathon Stage, which sees the crews race away from the bivouac at Haradh, to a smaller overnight camp at Shubaytah, some 608km away. The stage includes a timed section of 534km.
Toyota Gazoo Racing principal, Glynn Hall, said: “The Marathon is always a nervous time for us. Especially with the front-runners pushing as hard as they are at the moment. We’ll be holding our breaths here in Haradh, as we wait for the cars to reach Shubaytah. We’ve made sure the cars are in perfect condition after Stage 9, and the crews will be carrying additional spares in order to cover as many bases as possible.”
2020 Dakar Rally Stage 9 Results:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +15sec
7th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +8min 30s
8th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +11min 16sec
9th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +13min 3sec
2020 Dakar Rally Overall Results After Stage 9:
2nd No. 300 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel, +24sec
6th No. 304 Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, +57min 57sec
7th No. 307 Bernhard ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul, +1hr 8min 59sec
10th No. 310 Fernando Alonso/Marc Coma, +3hrs 17min 23sec
Compiled by: Charlen RaymondImage: MotorPress