Toyota draws first blood in Dakar 2019

Nasser Al-Attiyah wins stage one in Peru, with SA's Giniel de Villiers sixth

08 January 2019 - 08:03 By Denis Droppa
SA-built Gazoo Toyota Hilux leads the charge after day one of the 2019 Dakar Rally in Peru. Picture: SUPPLIED
SA-built Gazoo Toyota Hilux leads the charge after day one of the 2019 Dakar Rally in Peru. Picture: SUPPLIED

The first stage of the 2019 Dakar Rally was won by Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah in an SA-built Gazoo Toyota Hilux, 1 min 59 sec ahead of reigning Dakar champion Carlos Sainz in the X-Raid Mini JCW Buggy.

Taking third place in Monday’s stage from Lima to Pisco in Peru, was Poland’s Jakub Przygonski (Mini JCW Rally), just one second behind his Spanish team-mate. The top South African was Giniel de Villiers (Gazoo Hilux) in sixth place and 2 min 40 sec off the lead.

“We decided to go at a good pace, rather than push too hard on the opening stage,” said De Villiers after completing the 84 km stage. “There’s very little time to be made on such a relatively short stage, but even a small mistake can put you on the back foot for the remainder of the race.”

The predicted Toyota vs Mini battle got into full swing in the short but tough opening stage of the Dakar in the dunes of the Peruvian desert on Monday, with the two brands making up nine of the top ten positions in the overall car standings. The only other marque in the top ten was the PH Sport Peugeot of Britain’s Harry Hunt, in ninth place.

Last year's winner, Carlos Sainz, was second in his X-Raid Mini JCW Buggy. Picture: SUPPLIED
Last year's winner, Carlos Sainz, was second in his X-Raid Mini JCW Buggy. Picture: SUPPLIED

There are a number of former Dakar winners contending for this year’s crown, including 13-time champion Stephane Peterhansel (France) in an X-Raid Mini JCW Buggy who finished Monday’s stage in seventh place.

The Hilux, built in Midrand by Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal Glyn Hall, has achieved a number of podium placings since its Dakar debut in 2012 but has yet to win the grand prize.

Winning the opening stage means Al-Attiyah will be opening the road in today’s 342km second stage in the dunes from Pisco to San Juan de Marcona, which might be challenging from a navigational point of view as they will have no tracks to follow. However, the former Dakar winner and his navigator Matthieu Baumel excel in these conditions.

Joan Barreda Bort (Spain) on a Honda won the motorcycle class in Monday’s opening stage, ahead of Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) and American Ricky Brabec (Honda).

The top South African was Kenneth Gilbert (Husqvarna) in 40th place, with fellow South African Stuart Gregory (KTM) 84th out of 135 competitors.

The world’s most gruelling off-road race, which ends in Lima again on January 17 after 5000km of racing, takes place in only one country for the first time in its history, with Peru the sole host nation for the 2019 event.

STAGE 1 RESULTS (CARS):

  1. Al Attiyah / Baumel (Toyota)       
  2. Sainz / Cruz (MINI) +01:59
  3. Przygonski / Colsoul (MINI) +02:00
  4. Vasilyev / Zhlitsov (Toyota) +02:18
  5. Al Rajhi / Gottschalk (MINI) +02:28
  6. De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz (Toyota) +02:40
  7. Peterhansel / Castera (MINI) +02:57
  8. Ten Brinke / Panseri (Toyota) +03:19
  9. Hunt / Rosegaar (Peugeot) +03:25
  10. Despres / Cottret (MINI) +04:25
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