2024.1.9 (Tue)

  • Stage victory for Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon
  • 16th on stage for Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy
  • 17th on stage for Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz
  • 21st on stage for Saood Variawa and Francois Cazalet
  • 32nd on stage for Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings
  • Lucas and Armand up into 4th overall

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing celebrated its first stage victory at Dakar 2024, courtesy of Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon, who won the tough third stage in their GR Hilux EVO T1U. The pair started the stage, which took the crews from the bivouac at Al Duwadimi to the town of Al Salamiya, as the ninth car on the road, but powered to a stage win thanks to a clean run with no punctures, as well as pin-point navigation by Armand.

Lucas and Armand took the stage win by just 9sec over their nearest competitor, despite a highly challenging stage of 438km. Their performance not only bagged them the stage win, together with a good haul of W2RC points, but also pushed them up the overall standings to 4th place. Their deficit to the overall leader is now 9min 17sec. Remarkably, the race leader - Yazeed Al Rajhi - is driving a near-identical, privately entered Toyota Hilux T1U.

Stage 3 brought trouble for TGR's Giniel de Villiers and co-driver, Dennis Murphy. They suffered two punctures early in the stage and were forced to slow down significantly. Unfortunately, they were then also stuck in the dust of the cars that had passed them while they changed the tyres, compounding their problems. The best they could muster in the circumstances was the 16th-fastest time, 19min 42sec behind Lucas and Armand. As far as the overall standings go, they now find themselves in 14th place, 36min 56sec behind the leaders after three stages.

While Giniel and Dennis were disappointed with their Stage 3 result, they suffered one fewer puncture than teammates Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz. The American driver lost three tyres over the course of the stage and was forced to wait for assistance in order to continue. Assistance arrived swiftly, however, in the form of Lucas and Armand, who paused briefly to hand one of their spares to their teammates, before setting off again. This show of camaraderie may well have cost Lucas and Armand their stage win, given the narrow margin at the top of the standings, but their good deed was rewarded, and Seth/Dennis were able to continue.

Even though Seth and Dennis had one fresh tyre on their car, they still had to be cautious over the closing kilometres, and in the end, they lost 22min 42sec on the day. This dropped them down the order and out of the Top 10 in the overall standings, where they now trail the race leaders by 27min 18sec.

Stage 3 also brought a challenge for TGR's young gun, Saood Variawa, and his French co-driver, Francois Cazalet. With that said, the pair started the day as the 40th car on the road but fought their way through the dust of slower cars and into 21st place on the stage. They also struggled with navigation in two places, having to double-back to find certain waypoints. But despite this, they relinquished only 23min 37sec to the stage winners, and are in 18th place in the overall standings.

TGR's final crew, Guy Botterill and co-driver, Brett Cummings, had a great start to Dakar 2024, but Stage 3 bit hard. The pair had their first puncture barely 50km into the special stage; and a second 100km further on. This forced them into survival mode, as they were out of spares, only to suffer a third puncture 150km from the finish. Luckily this one didn't fully deflate the tyre, and the crew were able to nurse their GR Hilux EVO T1U home by stopping to top up the tyre repeatedly. They lost 31min 53sec in the process but are still in 17th place overall.

Stage 3 was also the start of a 'mini-Marathon' stage for the race, as the technical crews were given only two hours to repair and prepare the cars for Stage 4. To compound the challenge, the race crews camped at a remote bivouac without the support of their teams after Stage 3, before taking on the next stage. This will consist of a liaison of 198km, joining the remote bivouac at Al Salamiya with the start of the route. Next up will be a timed section of 299km, run mainly on dirt tracks, with a small dune section in the mix. Finally, the crews will cover a second liaison of 201km to reach the bivouac at Al-Hofuf.


Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal:
“Any day where you win a Dakar stage is a good one, and I would like to congratulate Lucas and Armand on winning a very tough stage indeed. For the rest of our crews, the day was largely ruined by punctures, though we were happy to see them all at the two-hour service without any major mechanical problems. While they are a bit further back than we'd have liked, this has been a particularly tough start to the race, and reaching this point without any problems is testament to the toughness of our GR Hilux EVO T1U.”

Lucas Moraes:
“It is really unbelievable! But the day goes to Armand. The navigation was insanely hard, but we hit our marks. I just managed to keep the car in one piece and no punctures, with a good rhythm for sure. But Armand was really on point, and we must thank the whole team. One more, one less day, as we say in Brazil, and I gotta keep going!”

Seth Quintero:
“I didn't want to play the 'rubber band game' today, but unfortunately got unlucky with a couple of punctures and that kinda just ruined our day, to be honest. But there's a long way to go and I can't get too upset. I mean, we're here. We didn't lose too much time. We're probably still up there. So yeah, I think just got a little unlucky today. Just need some luck on our side. Hopefully tomorrow we're up there, but I don't want to continue playing this flip flop game. We've been off the podium every other day. So, maybe tomorrow we'll get back on the podium, and hopefully we can keep it that way for the rest of the rally.”

Guy Botterill:
“That was really difficult for us. Around 50 km in we got a puncture, and then maybe another 100km later, we got another puncture and then we were out of spare wheels. With about 130km to go we had another flat, but we were watching it on the monitoring system. The tyre was going down slowly, so we had to keep on stopping and putting air in the tyre. We weren't racing today - we were surviving.”

Giniel de Villiers:
“Yeah, another tough day. Unfortunately, we had two punctures after 70km, and then it was party over. Then, we were in the dust, and I just had to cruise. It was impossible to push, because if you have another flat tyre, you have a big problem. You won't see the end. So, yeah, it was very frustrating. But anyway, we made it to the end.”

Saood Variawa:
“It has been a tough three tough three days so far! Today, we went into the stage and wanted to up our pace to catch the guys ahead. Which we did in the first part of it. I mean, we caught quite a few guys and overtook them. Unfortunately, there were two waypoints that were a bit tricky. We lost quite a bit of time there, and also in the last one that we couldn't find. We came back through a canyon and one of the other competitors overtook us, so we were stuck in his dust from then on.”


1#206L. Moraes / A. MonleonTOYOTA GAZOO Racing4hr 14min 51sec
2#207M. Ekström / E. BergkvistTeam Audi Sport+00:09
3#201Y. Al Rajhi / T. GottschalkOverdrive Racing+01:09
4#200N. Al-Attiyah / M. BaumelNasser Racing+01:33
5#231R. Dumas / M. DelfinoRebellion Racing+02:01
16#209G. De Villiers / D. MurphyTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+19:42
17#216S. Quintero / D. ZenzTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+22:42
21#226S. Variawa / F. CazaletTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+23:37
32#243G. Botterill / B. CummingsTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+31:53


1#201Y. Al Rajhi / T. GottschalkOverdrive Racing13hr 07min 29sec
2#204C. Sainz / L. CruzTeam Audi Sport+00:29
3#207M. Ekström / E. BergkvistTeam Audi Sport+08:26
4#206L. Moraes / A. MonleonTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+09:17
5#200N. Al-Attiyah / M. BaumelNasser Racing+10:49
11#216S. Quintero / D. ZenzTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+27:18
14#209G. De Villiers / D. MurphyTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+36:56
17#243G. Botterill / B. CummingsTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+46:14
18#226S. Variawa / F. CazaletTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+55:38

08 January 2024


  • 3rd on stage for Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz
  • 9th on stage for Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon
  • 13th on stage for Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings
  • 22nd on stage for Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy
  • 31st on stage for Saood Variawa and Francois Cazalet

Stage 2 of Dakar 2024 was another stern test, contested over a timed section of 463km. This, together with liaisons totalling 192km, brought the rally to the bivaouc at Al Duwadimi. Once the dust had settled over the Saudi Landscape, and the times were tallied, it was Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz who shone for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. The American driver and his German co-driver set the third-fastest time on the stage, finishing just 3min 11sec behind the stage winners. This power performance sees the GR Hilux EVO T1U driver move up into 4th place in the general standings after two stages.

Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon also had a strong second stage, setting the 9th-fastest time. The pair started the stage as the 6th car on the road, which made navigation somewhat challenging, as most of the front-runners lost time on the day. The TGR crew managed to maintain a good pace throughout the rally's second stage, restricting their time-loss to 17min 51sec, and they are in 8th place in the overall standings, just 12min 17sec behind the leaders.

Stage 2 of Dakar 2024 also brought a second consecutive solid stage for Dakar rookie Guy Botterill, who is partnered with Brett Cummings for this race. Guy, who hails from Durban on South Africa's east coast, finished the stage 22min 41sec behind the winners, recording the 13th-fastest time on the day. This sees the pair in 13th place, 17min 21sec adrift of the lead.

TGR's Dakar veteran, Giniel de Villiers, started Stage 2 as the third car on the road. This put significant pressure on his co-driver, Dennis Murphy, as the front-runners had a tough time identifying the route. The navigational challenges cost the pairing some time, and they also had to stop to change a wheel. They dropped down the order to 22nd on the day, relinquishing 29min 55sec to the leaders in the process. As a result of this, they now find themselves in 14th place overall, less than a couple of minutes behind teammates Guy and Brett. The winner of the 2009 edition of the race will be aiming to improve on this position over the coming days, and he has been positive that the GR Hilux EVO T1U is the best tool for the job at hand.

The final TGR pairing consists of Dakar rookie, Saood Variawa and co-driver Francois Cazalet. The pair started the stage as the 11th car on the road, but quickly fell foul to the dust of the cars ahead of them. They had a tough time coping with the reduced visibility in the rocky terrain, and lost 39min 26sec over the course of the second stage. This puts them in 19th place after two stages, and while they are 35min 01sec behind the leaders, Dakar 2024 has already served up two tough stages, and there are more to come. As such, anything can still happen, and the young driver will take every opportunity to build experience over the course of the race.

The two opening stages have proven successful not only for the TGR team, but also for Toyota as a whole. Stage 1 was won by Guillaume de Mevius and Xavier Panseri, who campaign a privately entered Toyota Hilux. The pair are in 5th place after two stages, just 7min 44sec behind the leaders. At the same time, the privately entered Toyota Hilux of Yazeed al Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk is in second place overall after Stage 2, thanks to two exceptional stage performances by the Saudi driver and his German co-driver.

The crews will take on a version of the Dakar's traditional Marathon Stage next, when they race away from the bivouac at Al Duwadimi to a remote camp at Al Salamiya. There, they will have a reduced service of two hours, during which the team's technical crews can work on the cars in order to prepare them for the following day. This 'light' Marathon Stage comes earlier in the race than ever before but may well have a significant impact on the outcome.

At 438km in length, the timed section is sure to test the crews yet again. But this time, the emphasis will be on preserving their cars for the return leg, which will take them to the bivouac at Al Hofuf, as the two hour service window won't allow for any major repairs. Stage 3 is expected to bring largely gravel tracks in terms of terrain, and the cars starting further down the order may well have an advantage yet again. The Rest Day for Dakar 2024 will take place in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Saturday, January 13th, but the team is concentrating on the upcoming stages, rather than the brief respite offered by the Rest Day. The race will finish in the coastal city of Yanbu on January 19th.


Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal:
“We had another good stage today, with all our GR DKR Hilux EVOs completing the stage without any mechanical problems. This is always gratifying, as it shows that our detailed preparation of the cars is paying off, and it gives our drivers the confidence needed to race in the toughest automotive challenge in the world. Tomorrow, we start the first part of the Marathon Stage, and we will be hoping for another clean run by all of our crews.”

Alain Dujardyn, W2RC Team Principal:
“Yesterday, it was Lucas and Armand who banked their first W2RC points. Today it was the turn of Seth and Dennis, who drove an amazing stage to go third-fastest. At the same time, I would like to congratulate both Guillaume De Mevius and Yazeed Al Rajhi with their performances over the last two days. To see Guillaume win the opening stage of the rally in a Toyota Hilux was very gratifying from a brand point of view; and to have Yazeed in second place overall is fantastic.”

Seth Quintero:
“It feels amazing to come third on the stage today. It's been a little bit of a wild ride. First day we showed a lot of speed and second day, I think I banked on the guys making too many mistakes, so I just kind of relaxed. Also understanding that it is Dakar and we got 13 or so more days to go, I didn't want to push early on. So, today I wanted to go out and have some fun. I started right behind Loeb again, which in my mind is one of the better spots to be, and caught him pretty early on and just locked onto his bumper. We had a lot of cars to pass together. I was kind of just laughing. I'm like, man, this is a surreal feeling being right behind this guy and we're working around. And I knew we had a good pace. We were moving pretty good. And I had Stefan (Peterhansel) right behind me and he was absolutely going for it. And all three of us were within seconds. It felt good to finally lead something. Like I said, I had a lot of doubt in my mind coming to this race. I've been a T3 guy my whole life and you never know stepping up to the big guns. But the whole TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team has been doing such an amazing job, making me feel at home, making me feel comfortable. And I will say this car is an absolute beast. So, looking forward to the rest of the couple weeks and gonna have some fun.”

Lucas Moraes:
“Yeah, feeling great to be honest. It was actually a hard stage. Of course, less stones, rocky compared to yesterday, but still very hard. But we managed, even though we were basically opening the stage, we were the third or fourth car on the road, the majority of the stage, it was really hard to see the lines. But we managed, Armand did a great job finding our way through it. And another top ten, which is important. We are just 12 minutes out of the lead of the rally, so everything is tight.”

Guy Botterill:
“Yeah, that was a good run for us. Right in the beginning we went into some difficult dunes. Well, I thought they were difficult. So yeah, we took our time finding our feet, but I think it was alright. Yazeed (Al Rajhi) overtook us fairly quickly and we tried to stay with him, but his pace is quite quick in the dunes and I didn't really want to take that sort of risk. So, we backed off a bit and then after that it opened up into some really fast tracks with lots of blind rises. And it was very difficult to find the road. You know, yesterday we were a long way down the track. So, there were a lot more cars on the road than there were today, making navigation difficult. Brett did a fantastic job. A lot of the times I had no idea where we were, and Brett kept us on the road. There's a lot more speed if we needed it, but we were very cautious not to make mistakes and being relatively high up on the road, I think we did a really great job.”

Giniel de Villiers:
“It's quite tricky. We had quite a few places where we went wrong for quite a bit. Your confidence suffers a bit when the navigation is difficult. It's extremely difficult at the front of the field, we saw that yesterday. Tomorrow is going to be the same again. We're starting a little bit further back, which should be good for tomorrow. We had a tyre come off the rim today, and I really had to take it careful in the rocks. If you get another puncture, then it's a big problem. We lost quite a bit of time today, but I'm not too concerned. It's still a very long way to go.”

Saood Variawa:
“It wasn't as tough as yesterday. It was slightly longer, so a very long time in the car. But we had a dune section in the start which I really wasn't comfortable with yet. And we took it very, very easy there. And after that we were going but we ran into a lot of dust and I didn't want to take any risks. So, we're hanging back and unfortunately that's how we lost all our time. But at least we're here and tomorrow is another day.”


1#202S. Peterhansel / E. BoulangerTeam Audi Sport3hr 54min 40sec
2#203S. Loeb / F. LurquinBahrain Raid Xtreme+0:29
3#216S.Quintero / D. ZenzTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+3:11
4#200N. Al-Attiyah / M. BaumelNasser Racing+6:28
5#201Y. Al Rajhi / T. GottschalkOverdrive Racing+7:11
9#206L. Moraes / A. MonleonTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+17:51
13#243G. Botterill / B. CummingsTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+22:41
22#209G. De Villiers / D. MurphyTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+29:55
31#226S. Variawa / F. CazaletTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+39:26


1#204C. Sainz / L. CruzTeam Audi Sport8hr 49min 38sec
2#201Y. Al Rajhi / T. GottschalkOverdrive Racing+1:51
3#203S. Loeb / F. LurquinBahrain Raid Xtreme+4:17
4#216S.Quintero / D. ZenzTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+7:36
5#221G. de Mevius / X. PanseriOverdrive Racing+7:44
8#206L. Moraes / A. MonleonTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+12:17
13#243G. Botterill / B. CummingsTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+17:21
14#209G. De Villiers / D. MurphyTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+20:14
19#226S. Variawa / F. CazaletTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+35:01

07 January 2024


  • 3rd on stage for Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy
  • 6th on stage for Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon
  • 7th on stage for Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings
  • 11th on stage for Saood Variawa and Francois Cazalet
  • 19th on stage for Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz
  • 6 Toyota Hilux in Top 10

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing started its Dakar 2024 campaign in style, with four of its five crews finishing in the Top 10. Stage 1 was a tricky test of 414 km, with a final liaison of 46 km bringing the cars to the bivouac at Al Henakiyah. It was a power performance by the works GR Hilux EVO T1U crews, and the team finds itself in a strong position for Stage 2.

Giniel de Villiers and co-driver, Dennis Murphy, were the pick of the bunch, despite starting the race in 68th position after a tough Prologue. The pair powered through the field, and despite having to stop for a minor field repair to their car, they set the third-fastest time on the opening stage. Their deficit to the overall leader was only 9min 18sec, but their starting position for Stage 2 may pose some challenges as a result.

Brazilian Lucas Moraes and his Spanish co-driver, Armand Monleon, made the most of the tough stage the pair drove at a measured pace, but suffered a right-front puncture shortly before the mid-point of the stage. Despite this setback, the TGR crew powered to a sixth-place finish on the stage, trailing the leaders by 13min 25sec. It was a dream start to the Dakar for rookie Guy Botterill. Partnered with the experienced Brett Cummings as co-driver, the South African started his first-ever Dakar Rally in fine style. The former rally driver set a blistering pace throughout the stage, climbing as high as second overall, before dropping down to 7th place shortly before the end of the stage, following a problem with a suspension part.

At the same time, rookie driver Saood Variawa recorded a perfectly clean run - no punctures, no problems. The young South African, partnered with Frenchman, Francois Cazalet, not only completed his first ever Dakar stage, but also set the 11th-fastest time in the process. It was a powerful statement from one of the youngest works drivers in the history of the race. Seth Quintero and co-driver, Dennis Zenz, recorded a largely uneventful stage. They suffered one puncture early on, but then settled into a cautious pace that allowed them to bring the GR Hilux EVO T1U home safely, setting the 19th-fastest time on the day. They are 23min 24sec behind the leaders, well within striking distance if the conditions allow. The pair will be eager to start a climb up the leader board over the next few stages.

Next up is Stage 2, which takes the rally from the bivouac at Al Henakiyah to the town of Al Duwadimi, via a timed stage of 463 km. A liaison of 73 km will take the crews from the bivouac to the start of the stage, while a 119 km liaison will take them from the end of the stage to the next bivouac.


Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal:
“Stage 1 was a very good one for the team. All five our GR Hilux EVOs performed extremely well, and there were very few technical issues along the way. I'm very pleased with our results today, and can only hope for more of these days over the next two weeks.”

Alain Dujardyn, W2RC Team Principal:
“The opening stage of this year's Dakar was quite an eventful one. I must congratulate Giniel and Dennis on their stellar performance; and also Lucas and Armand on banking their first W2RC points. We're excited about the upcoming stages, and hope that our crews continue to make the best of their GR Hilux EVOs. It was also gratifying to see six Toyota Hiluxes in the Top 10 after Stage 1.”

Giniel de Villiers:
“A very tough day! I'm just glad we finished in the daylight. You know we started quite late, we started as the 68th car on the road. So, I knew today was going to be very tricky in the dust and I don't know how many cars we passed, but it was many. We lost a little bit of time with a minor field repair to our car, but other than that, we had a clean day. We are very happy to be here, and very happy with the result. Obviously, with the dust, we lost a lot of time, so our result could have been even better. But we'll take third on the stage, that's for sure!”

Lucas Moraes:
“A very tough, physically demanding stage. Also tough for the car, and we got a puncture in the middle of the race because we were in the dust the whole time. But the car is perfect and the team delivered a great car. We're very happy with our results from the first stage.”

Guy Botterill:
“Well in the beginning we didn't see much because we were just covered in dust, but then it opened up quite nicely. Then we entered what looked like the moon. It was lava flows and huge rocks and boulders and it was very strange as we were there by ourselves and it was very difficult to judge the pace, so we took it easy. Once it opened up again, it was very comfortable in the car and everything was going well. Unfortunately, just 7km before the finish, we had a technical issue with a suspension part, so we lost a bit of time there but I'm really happy to be at the end of stage one at the Dakar.”

Saood Variawa:
“It was quite something! I mean honestly, I didn't expect it to be that difficult. The first 250kms were good, and we kept a decent pace. We got stuck in the dust of a side-by-side for a while, but nonetheless we made it to the end, and I'm looking forward to Stage 2.”

Seth Quintero:
“Yeah, I mean, all things considered, I don't think it was the toughest start for us at least. Five hours out and it was rocks the size of soccer balls the whole time. So, I mean, it was one of those stages where I knew a lot of the top dogs were playing it smart with the experience they have, and I'm just trying to follow along, learning every day. The car felt comfortable all day long, and we had no issues. Unfortunately, we had one little puncture, but it is what it is that's gonna happen when you're driving over rocks at high speeds.”


1#221G. de Mevius / X. PanseriOverdrive Racing4hr 35min 59sec
2#204C. Sainz / L. CruzTeam Audi Sport+1: 44
3#209G. De Villiers / D. MurphyTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+9:18
4#214V. Zala / P. FiuzaX-Raid Arijus Team+10:42
5#231R. Dumas / M. DelfinoRebillion Racing+12:18
6#206L. Moraes / A. MonleonTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+13:25
7#243G. Botterill / B. CummingsTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+13:39
11#226S. Variawa / F. CazaletTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+14:34
19#216S.Quintero / D. ZenzTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+23:24

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