• 1st on stage for Al-Attiyah/Baumel
  • 7th on stage for Variawa/Murphy
  • 19th on stage for De Villiers/Haro
  • Al-Attiyah/Baumel close gap to leader to 4min 50sec
NEOM, SAUDI ARABIA – The second part of the Marathon section of Dakar 2021 saw Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel win their fourth stage of the race. The pair brought their Toyota Hilux safely to the bivouac despite suffering a mid-stage puncture and closed the gap to rally leader, Stéphane Peterhansel, to 4min 50sec with four stages to go.

“Nasser and Mathieu did an amazing job again today, winning the second part of the Marathon section,” said TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Team Principal, Glyn Hall, after all three remaining cars arrived at the bivouac in Neom after Stage 8 of the race. “They were cautious yesterday in order to preserve the car for today’s push, but they executed the strategy perfectly, and reaped the rewards.”

Stage 8 also saw another good performance by Shameer Variawa and Dennis Murphy, who posted the 7th-fastest time over the 375km-long timed stage. The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crew had no punctures on the day, but stopped to assist fellow Toyota Hilux driver Yazeed Al Rajhi, who had suffered three punctures, and was in need of a spare tyre. Despite this, they lagged only 18min 51sec behind Al-Attiyah/Baumel, and have moved to 23rd in the overall rankings.

Four punctures during Stage 7, followed by four more on Stage 8, severely hampered the progress of Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro. The Dakar veteran lost significant time again, having driven the last 10km of the stage on the rim as the pair had run out of spares. They lost 30min 17sec on the stage and slid down to 9th in the overall standings.

“It is impossible to fight for a good stage time if our tyres don’t last,” said a clearly frustrated De Villiers. “We have tried to keep it tidy in the rough sections, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. We’ve had 18 punctures already this year, and we’ve got four more stages to go, so I don’t know where this is going to end.”

Next up is Stage 9, which is a looped stage that starts and ends on the outskirts of the coastal area near Neom. The stage comprises a short liaison of 109km, together with a timed section of 465km over varied terrain including sandy tracks, dunes and rocky traverses.