Nasser Al-Attiyah felt he and co-driver Mathieu Baumel would have been even further clear of the field in Monday’s third Dakar Rally stage had it not been for two punctures on their Toyota Gazoo Racing SA machine.
The Qatari driver lost around three minutes mid-stage thanks to the two punctures, but he was still able to win the 296-kilometre Pisco to San Juan de Marcona stage by four minutes and five seconds, and it meant he moved up to third place in the overall standings, seven minutes and forty-three seconds behind new leader Stephane Peterhansel.
“If it weren’t for the punctures, we would’ve been in an even stronger position,” said Al Attiyah. “But even so we are happy with today’s result, and we are now right back in the fight.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, was happy to see his squad take a second stage victory in three days thanks to Al-Attiyah, while also seeing both Giniel de Villiers and Bernhard ten Brinke finishing sixth and seventh, ensuring all three sit inside the top seven in the overall standings heading into Tuesday’s fourth stage.
“Two stage wins in the first three stages sound like a fairy tale to me,” said Hall. “With that said, we could have been in a better position, were it not for Mathieu falling ill, and two of our crews suffering multiple punctures.
“But then the Dakar isn’t a race of ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’ – it is a grueling event where every second won is ground out the hard way. We simply have to keep pushing as hard as we can, and today we saw that we certainly have the pace to take the fight to the competition.”