Toyota Gazoo Racing has announced an all-star line-up for the Dakar Rally scheduled to take place for the first time in Saudi Arabia in January 2020.
The works team features four crews consisting of Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel; Giniel de Villiers and navigator Alex Haro; Bernhard Ten Brinke and navigator Tom Colsoul; and Fernando Alonso and navigator Marc Coma.
The team has been competing at the Dakar Rally since 2012 and, as Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa, achieved Toyota’s first overall victory earlier this year with Nasser and Mathieu, said the automaker. Since its first Dakar Rally entry, the team recorded best overall results of 3rd (2012), 2nd (2013), 4th (2014), 2nd (2015), 3rd (2016), 5th (2017) and 2nd (2018).
Toyota Gazoo Racing says it will field a mix of experienced rally-raid specialists, together with relative newcomers to the discipline. Nasser and Mathieu will be looking to defend their Dakar Rally title to add to their list of achievements, including multiple FIA World Cups for Cross Country Rallies and Dakar Rally victories.
Giniel is another experienced campaigner with the 2009 Dakar Rally victory to his name and four Rally of Morocco crowns, the latest coming earlier this month with his new navigator Alex. Bernhard, also a former winner in Morocco, is reunited with Tom, who hails from a rally dynasty and has been competing across different rally disciplines over the years with multiple successes in the truck category.
Marc Coma and Fernando Alonso represents the fourth team for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA for the 2020 Dakar Rally. - Image: Motorpress
Fernando, two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, reigning FIA World Endurance Championship title holder with Toyota Gazoo Racing, two-time Formula 1 World Champion, and winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona, will drive the team’s fourth entry in the 2020 Dakar Rally, part of his ambition to try different motorsport disciplines and become an even more complete racing driver. Marc Coma, another Spanish motorsport legend with six FIM Cross Country World Championships and five Dakar Rally victories in the bike category under his belt, will sit alongide him as navigator.
The Spanish super-duo, both transitioning into different forms of motorsport, have been hard at work since August, training in some of the harshest conditions and terrains throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. So far, Fernando and Marc have more than doubled their planned training mileage, an unmistakable signal of the duo’s determination to conquer one of motorsport’s most rigorous events.
All four crews will compete in the latest version of the rally raid-proven Toyota Hilux, built and developed in South Africa. The 2018 Dakar Rally saw the introduction of an all-new Hilux which was described by Glyn Hall, Team Principal, as a technological leap forward and proved itself from the get-go with a second and third place on its Dakar Rally debut before winning the event outright a year later. The team has continued to refine the Hilux and the latest iteration will spearhead their Dakar Rally campaign.
TGR says the Hilux features independent suspensions, mid-ship engine and all-wheel drive, with the 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine sitting just behind the front wheels, between and slightly below the crew.
The 2020 Dakar Rally will be contested solely in Saudi Arabia, with the rally starting on January 5, 2020 in the western city of Jeddah. The route will head north, before turning south-east to the capital city of Riyadh where crews will enjoy the traditional event rest day. The second half of the 2020 Dakar Rally traverses through Rub’ al Khali, also known as the “Empty Quarter”, the world’s largest continuous sand desert, before finishing in the city of Al-Qiddiya on January 17.