- Today, Toyota Gazoo Racing secured all three steps on the podium at the end of stage 9 of Dakar 2022.
- SA's Giniel de Villiers scooped gold, and Henk Lategan secured silver, while Qatari teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah took bronze.
- Al-Attiyah maintains an overall lead for the car category win, but De Villiers rises in the ranks after this win to fifth in the standings.
- For motoring news, go to Wheels24
Toyota Gazoo Racing's South African team will undoubtedly raise the bivouac roof this evening as they celebrate taking P1 and P2 and P3 for stage 9 of the gruelling Dakar 2022 that looped around Wadi ad Dawasir in Saudi Arabia.
Dakar News officially reports that South African driver Giniel De Villiers showed tenacity as he won today's special stage ahead of fellow South African driver Henk Lategan and Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah. Al-Attiyah stood resilient in P3, denying Mattias Ekström (Team Audi Sport) a second consecutive podium finish. Behind the Toyota trio and the Audi, Sébastien Loeb brought his Bahrain Raid Xtreme (Team BRX) Prodrive Hunter home in fifth place.
Toyota on the charge from the get go
De Villiers, Lategan and Al-Attiyah struck early in the stage, almost as if they had coordinated a military-precision strike to ensure the team secures all three positions on the podium today.
Dakar News notes that after a mere 40km, Lategan was in the lead and looking prime to secure another stage win over Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giniel De Villiers. However, the two Audis driven by Stéphane Peterhansel and Mattias Ekström were not far behind.
Sébastien Loeb experienced a tyre blowout today, yet tried his best to improve his overall time. When speaking to Dakar News after the stage, he said although he's not satisfied with second place in the general rankings, he has little room for manoeuvre to claw back the 39 minutes that separate him from Nasser Al Attiyah: "We did a good stage, I think. We pushed hard, from the start to the end. There were no mistakes with the navigation, but one little puncture where I tried to be a bit aggressive in the stones because I needed to regain some time. So we had to change the wheel, but apart from that, we drove a clean stage without problems".
Giniel talks after the stage win
De Villiers won the Dakar Rally overall back in 2009, but he hasn't tasted a step on the podium this year. Winning stage 9 has enabled him to claw his overall standing back to fifth in the car category in the competition. The circuit and off-road racing professional received abuse on social media after accidentally bumping into a fellow competitor riding a motorcycle. He hasn't let this incident shatter his will to win, although it will be challenging for him to catch Al-Attiyah for the overall lead with only three stages remaining.
Speaking to Dakar News today, de Villiers said: "It looks good. We had a nice clean stage today. I must say that the mechanics worked hard last night because we had a problem with the dampers over the last two days. But they did a great job, and the car was just unbelievable today."
He expounded that he experienced one slow puncture on the front left about 50km from the end of the gritty stage, but his tyre managed to hold out.
"We didn't stop because it wasn't necessary to stop. We're very happy for the team, and thanks to the guys for last night for their hard work. We've had some bad luck. Unfortunately, we had an oil pipe come off, and we lost one hour, but this race is very strange. We've had some challenges ourselves, and we will see," de Villiers said.
He explained that there are still three stages to go, so anything could still happen: "So, we'll keep on trying our best until then, for sure. I must say, the first week was not ideal. It was very stressful and mentally very, very tiring. Something I would not like to go through again, but that's behind us now. We're looking to the future. We cannot change the past. We're looking to the future."
P1 N. AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) and M. BAUMEL (AND) from TOYOTA GAZOO RACING
P2 S. LOEB (FRA) and F. LURQUIN (BEL) from BAHRAIN RAID XTREME
P3 Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) and M. ORR (GBR) from OVERDRIVE TOYOTA
P4 O. TERRANOVA (ARG) and D. OLIVERAS CARRERAS (ESP) from BAHRAIN RAID XTREME
P5 G. DE VILLIERS (ZAF) and D. MURPHY (ZAF) from TOYOTA GAZOO RACING
P6 J. PRZYGONSKI (POL) and T. GOTTSCHALK (DEU) from X-RAID MINI JCW TEAM
P7 V. VASILYEV (RAF) and O. UPERENKO (LVA) VRT TEAM
P8 M. PROKOP (CZE) and V. CHYTKA (CZE) from BENZINA ORLEN TEAM
P9 S. HALPERN (ARG) and B. GRAUE (ARG) from X-RAID MINI JCW TEAM
P10 M. SERRADORI (FRA) and L. MINAUDIER (FRA) from SRT RACING
Click here for official up-to-date Dakar 2022 live timing and driver rankings including penalties, stage times and overall rankings.
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