Stage 11 was quite possibly the most competitive yet. The stage has been in use since the Dakar moved to South America in 2009. On familiar territory, teams were gunning through each checkpoint at max speed.
Leading the pack since the start of the stage was TGRSA (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa) #309 Bernhard Ten Brinke who claimed his first stage win of 2018. Teammate #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah came in 5th, just 5 minutes behind the leader making the race tight for the entire 280km raid. #304 Giniel de Villiers followed suit, taking 6th.
After Stage 9 being canceled, the Dakar competitors were in top shape at the start line. This would be the first time for teams to run in the sandy plateaus of Argentina. With just five days of racing left, there was no room for error. TGRSA (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa) #304 Giniel de Villiers took this to heart, taking 2nd for the stage with one of the best runs on the Dakar this year.
His performance puts him in contention for a podium finish. #309 Bernhard Ten Brinke also ran well, taking 5th while #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah suffered more headaches with a broken rear left lower control arm, causing him a huge loss of time while he limped to a 10th place finish.
Today is the second half of the marathon stage. Teams raced 498km towards Tupiza where their mechanics can inspect the damage taken over the past two punishing days. Standing water mixed with clumping dirt from the heavy rains made it impossible to judge a proper plan of attack.
Team TGRSA (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa) #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah had no issues with today’s high altitude but the brush was a factor. Still, he managed to place 3rd while #309 Bernhard Ten Brinke followed in 4th. #304 Giniel de Villiers finished in 9th after getting caught on a ditch for 20 minutes. General Financing Team Pitlane #323 Benediktas Vanagas had a solid day of racing, taking 14th.
Stage 7 kicks off the next leg of the Dakar with a 425km marathon run towards Uyuni. Competitors were well rested after spending the day in La Paz. Support teams worked around the clock to calibrate vehicles for the Bolivian terrain.
Yesterday’s heavy rains created added difficulty with softer trails and large pools of standing water. Team TGRSA (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa) #304 Giniel de Villiers, familiar with the landscape ran in top condition, taking 2nd place. Teammate #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah followed close, arriving in Uyuni in 3rd with #309 Bernhard Ten Brinke arriving in 7th.
The 313km Stage 6 into Bolivia marked a change in pace and landscape. With the difficult Peruvian sands that caused trouble for so many behind them, teams moved into the rocky mountains of Bolivia. Competitors picked up speed but faced large pools of standing water that painted mud all over the windshield as they climbed 4,722 meters above sea level.
Team TGRSA (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South America) was unfazed by this and instead embraced the chance to rally up the leaderboards with #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah and #304 Giniel de Villiers taking 3rd and 4th on the familiar terrain. #309 Bernhard Ten Brinke took a similar attack, placing 7th.
Today’s Stage 5 marks the last day the Dakar is in Peru. Teams have battled the hard and soft sands for days and today was a new level of difficulty. Many teams suffered lost time as they struggled to free themselves from the grips of the dune sands.
Even so, TRGSA (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa) #309 Bernhard Ten Brinke hit his stride by utilizing the calm and calculated method to capture 2nd place for the stage. The TGRSA rookie is turning heads and making quick fans. #304 Giniel de Villiers finished 3rd quickest despite a flat tire near the finish. #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah crossed the finish line 5th and is likely happy to be out of the troublesome dunes.
Stage 4 of the Dakar proved to be an endless headache. The 330km stage was full of sink holes, rocky terrain and tricky canyons. Some teams suffered critical damage; while others escaped relatively unscathed. For TGRSA (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa) #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah, the Hilux survived, but with a loss of nearly an hour due to two flat tires and getting trapped in the sand.
After 200km, Nasser had to run conservatively as he had no more spares, finishing in 11th. Teammate #304 Giniel de Villiers also struggled with the terrain but managed to finish in 17th.
Stage 3 was an all-out battle. Several vehicles experienced roll-overs and punishment over the dunes. TGRSA (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa) #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah plowed through the tricky stage taking 1st place despite a couple tire punctures costing precious minutes. Many were surprised to see Nasser’s aggressive approach to the stage, including #304 Giniel de Villiers, who took the stage more carefully, finishing in 6th. TGRSA teammate #309 Bernhard Ten Brinke followed close behind, finishing in 7th.
Competitors faced new challenges as they raided over 267km of hard and soft sands on Stage 2’s Pisco loop. For TGRSA (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa), #304 Giniel de Villiers made it look easy by finishing in 4th, while fan favourite #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah set off on the stage first but finished 8th after getting off course due to not having bike tracks to follow. Teammate #309 Bernhard Ten Brinke also had a similar experience, ranking 10th.
The 2018 Dakar Rally has officially kicked off! The next two weeks will challenge the world’s best teams as they battle the landscapes of Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Peru’s Stage 1 challenged teams with a 31km run over hard and soft dunes towards Pisco as they physically and mentally prepared for the 2018 rally raid ahead. Claiming top ranking in the Car Category was #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah in his new TGRSA (Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa) Hilux. Teammates #309 Bernhard Ten Brinke took 2nd; and #304 Giniel de Villiers secured 6th.
Many automotive brands create 'ultimate test' stunt videos to prove their vehicles' worth for YouTube. But Hilux has nothing to prove to anyone. Hilux has completed 'ultimate tests' for 50 years, driven by owners from one extreme environment to another, on its journey to Invincible 50.
After first entering a Toyota Hilux in 2012, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing face Dakar 2018 fielding a three-car team. The all-new Toyota Hilux features a host of mechanical enhancements, promising a significant step forward in performance. With more than 3,000 km of testing under its belt, the new model builds on its predecessor's reliability and durability with enhanced levels of handling and balance, amounting to what the team believe is a winning recipe.