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STRONG OPENING STAGE FOR TOYOTA GAZOO RACING SA IN MOROCCO
08 Oct 2019
Toyota Gazoo Racing
Toyota Gazoo Racing
ERFOUD, MOROCCO –
It was a strong opening stage for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA in Morocco, as the team covered three of the Top 5 positions, despite treacherous track conditions encountered in Stage 1 of the 2019 Rally of Morocco. Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel topped the standings, with Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro in third place; and Bernhard ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul in fifth.
“Today’s stage was extremely tough on the cars and the crews,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “The terrain was very rocky, and even the slightest misstep could easily result in a puncture.”
Not one of the three crew Toyota Hilux crews entirely escaped this fate, with each of them having to deal with at least one puncture. Despite this, Al Attiyah/Baumel still posted the fastest time over the shortened, 235 km-long stage, leading the South-African Built CR6 of Mathieu Serradori and Fabian Lurquin to the finish.
It was also a solid performance for De Villiers/Haro. The South African racing legend has won the Rally of Morocco three times previously, most recently in 2007. He is just 3min 14s off Al Attiyah’s lead, and will be hoping for another strong showing on Stage 2.
Dutchman Ten Brinke, with Colsoul beside him, lost the best part of three minutes due to a small navigational error, but quickly recovered to post the fifth-fastest time, just 2min 49s behind the MINI of Stephane Peterhansel and his wife, Andrea.
With three South African-built Toyota Hilux race cars in the Top 5 position, the team has every reason to be upbeat after the opening stage. “However,” cautions Hall, “there is a lot of racing to come, and this event has a reputation for being extremely tough. So, we’ll just take it one day at a time, and push for good finishes for all three crews.”
Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing were also in action in Stage 1. The pair started as the 13th car on the road, but suffered three punctures in the dust of slower competitors, but only carried two spares. They were forced to wait for a fellow-Toyota Hilux crew to stop, in order to borrow a wheel. Once they were back on the road, the pair safely completed the stage, posting the 21st-fastest time of the day, losing 44 minutes to the race leader in the process.
Stage 2 of the rally will start and finish near the bivouac, which is based near the town of Erfoud, in south-central Morocco. With a special stage distance of 370 km, the stage features a mix of sand dunes and rocky tracks.
The Rally of Morocco started in the central city of Fes on October 5th, with the bulk of the racing stages set 400 km to the south, in the area around Erfoud. The race will finish on Thursday, October 8th, back in the city of Fes.
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