The Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team occupied the top two spots in the overall classification of the Rally of Morocco after Nasser Al Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel won the second stage and increased their overall lead in the event to 17min 09sec.
Former Dakar Rally winner Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro, in an identical Toyota Hilux, moved up to second place in the overall standings.
"It was a really good stage for the team today, Nasser and Mathieu showed their class, and are now firmly in control at the head of the field. At the same time, Giniel finished the stage in fourth place today, so he’ll have a great starting position for Stage 3," said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall.
De Villiers/Haro started the day as the third car on the road, after a strong showing in the opening stage of the event. The pair powered through the first part of the stage, but a damaged exhaust manifold saw the Stellenbosch-based driver lose power.
“Not only that, but the manifold problem caused the car to consume significantly more fuel than normal, I kept a close eye on the fuel level throughout the remainder of the stage and had to back off a bit to get us home safely. In the end, we finished with just 10 litres of fuel to spare," explained De Villiers after reaching the finish.
Al Attiyah and Baumel, 17min 09sec clear of De Villiers/Haro, will open the road on the third stage.
Alonso and Coma come through unscathed
Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso and five-time Dakar bike winner Marc Coma had a clean result on stage two , with no punctures or problems. The pair were tenth-fastest on the stage and now find themselves in tenth place in the overall standings.
Having moved into the top 10, they’ll have some more dust gap for stage three, which should give them their first opportunity to attack.
With that said, stage three promises to be a stern test, at 440km of special stage distance. The total mileage for the day will add up to 533km, including liaisons of 93km.
The third will feature an all-new approach to the roadbook, with the crews only receiving the navigational notes five minutes before the start of the race.
This added challenge is designed to level the playing field for all crews, and will also be used for stage 4 of the rally.
With five special stages in the event, a total distance of 2500km is covered by competitors, while most of the racing takes place in the area near the south-central town of Erfoud, the race is set to conclude in the city of Fes on October 9.