Toyota GAZOO Racing's Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel topped the short, sharp 2021 Dakar Rally prologue in their South African-built Toyota Hilux. Their time was matched by Brian Baragwanath and Taye Perry, in a Century Racing CR-6 buggy, which is also built in South Africa.
“We are very pleased with Nasser and Mathieu setting the fastest time. They’ve proven before that they are happy to attack from the front,” TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Team Principal, Glyn Hall, said after the 11 km prologue.
“Henk and Brett did exactly what we had hoped they’d do – a solid performance that places them in a good position for Stage 1.”
Dakar debutants Henk Lategan and co-driver Brett Cummings, posted a time just 15 seconds slower than that of the leaders, placing them in 7th place for the start of Stage 1 tomorrow.
Whilst teammates Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Alex Haro Bravo suffered a throttle response problem at the start of the prologue stage and lost some time resetting the system. They managed to restrict their time loss to 20 seconds despite the problem but will be starting Stage 1 in 19th place – which means De Villiers will have to deal with more dust and scattered tracks than he would have liked.
The final car in the Toyota GAZOO Racing SA team is that of Shameer Variawa and co-driver Dennis Murphy. The pair’s prologue time was 33 seconds off the pace. They’ll be starting as the 26th car on the road.
Stage 1 is a 622 km special that comprises a 345 km liaison, and a timed section of 277 km. The route will see the crews tackle sandy tracks, strewn with rocks in places. Protecting the tyres will be key in these conditions.