Dakar Desert Delay for Toyota Gazoo
The South African Toyota Gazoo racing team saw unprecedented events on day four of the Dakar, with two of the Hilux’s running into trouble early on in the stage. Nasser Al Attiyah had two flat tyres early in the race and was forced to proceed cautiously after using both of his spares. This came shortly after he struggled to get his vehicle out of a ditch in the first set of dunes.
The ever consistent Giniel De Villiers had it no easier, with the only consistent part of the race for him being a string of punctures. He tweeted shortly after the race; “Very hard stage today! Got 3 punctures with no wheels left and stuck very bad for a long time. Hopefully [tomorrow] will go better!”. Giniel was delayed for a total of 1 hour 13 minutes, which dropped him three positions down to 8th.
The 4th stage also saw Andre Villas-Boas and his co-driver taken to hospital after they crashed nose first into a dune. Villa-Boas, a former Chelsea and Tottenham manager, was assessed for a back injury and later tweeted that he and his co-driver Ruben Faria are “Safe and back in the bivouac”. He has since pulled out of the race, making him one of two car drivers to pull out of stage four, alongside Weber Diego of Peru.
Amidst the chaos, the South African Dakar riders all pulled their way up the rankings, even seeing the stone last (117th out of 137 starters) Gerry Van Der Byl move up three places to 116th. David Thomas placed 43rd on the stage, bumping him up 9 places to 51st overall.
Despite Giniel and Nasser’s troubles, Toyota Gazoo SA driver Bernhard Ten Brinke managed to move up to 5th in the overall ranking after an impressive performance in the stage, suffering punctures but managing to limit his time loss to 42 minutes.