Toyota claimed second and third place finishes at the climax of one of the most gruelling Dakar rallies of recent times on Saturday.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Hilux piloted by Nassar Al Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baurnet finished second overall, leading home team-mates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in third,
“For us, Dakar 2018 was extremely tough,” said Qatari drier Al Attiyah. “We are very happy to finish in second place. Of course we would be happier with a win, but to have two of our three cars on the podium is an amazing achievement and we have every reason to be proud.”
Dakar 2018 started in Lima, Peru, on 6 January and crossed three South American countries in 14 stages and more than 3,500 miles of driving.
There were strong individual stage performances for all three Hilux, notably with Bernhard ten Brinke and Michel Périn claiming an impressive victory in the infamous sand dunes of Fiambala by a margin of more than four minutes. Perhaps inspired by this achievement, Al Attiyah and Baumel won the following, 12th stage, adding to their earlier wins on the opening and third stages of the event.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team had to cope with numerous challenges in the course of the race, but sustained their challenge for podium success with the V8-powered Hilux. Ten Brinke and Périn were forced to retire following an engine problem on the penultimate stage, but Al Attiyah and de Villiers were able to consolidate their grip on second and third places through to the finish.
De Villiers had the added pleasure of wining the final stage: “It is always special to win a stage on the Dakar, and this year we got a win right at the end,” he said. “But more than that, we brought the Hilux home on the podium, just behind our team-mates, which is a fantastic feeling.”
Dakar 2018 overall standings after stage 14 of 14
1 C. Sainz (Peugeot) 49:16:18
2 N. Al Attiyah (TOYOTA) +00:43:40
3 G. De Villiers (TOYOTA) +01:16:41
4 S. Peterhansel (Peugeot) +01:25:29
5 J. Przygonski (Mini) +02:45:24