2024.1.20 (Sat)

  • Guy Botterill crowned as leading Rookie for Dakar 2024
  • Saood Variawa completes Dakar Rally at 18 years of age
  • Three TGR crews in overall Top 10

The 2024 edition of the Dakar Rally brought mixed results for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, but while some of the team’s big names found the going particularly tough, it was the two rookie drivers who made their presence count. This underscores TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa (TGRSA)’s commitment to the development of motorsport in South Africa and proves that emerging talents have a clear path from the Junior Academy, through to SupaCup and GTC, and on to rally-raid racing, with the Dakar Rally as the ultimate goal.

This year, the TGR team fielded two rookies, in the form of Guy Botterill and Saood Variawa. Botterill, who competed in the SA National Rally Championship (NRC) for many years, winning multiple championships, was the top-performing rookie at this year’s Dakar, despite limited experience in big dunes. Together with co-driver Brett Cummings, who normally navigates for Henk Lategan, Botterill recorded consistent stage results throughout the event, eventually finishing in 6th place in the overall standings after 12 tough stages of racing in Saudi Arabia.

At the same time, young Saood Variawa became one of the youngest works drivers in the history of the sport, bringing his GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U home in 16th place overall, with Frenchman Francois Cazalet beside him in the car. The pair took a few stages to find their feet on the biggest automotive race on the planet, but once they settled into a rhythm, their pace was undeniable.

Variawa’s background is in track racing, where he has raced a wide variety of formulas despite his young age, most recently vying for the Global Touring Cars (GTC) title in South Africa.

The two rookies were supported by veteran Dakar racer Giniel de Villiers and his co-driver, Dennis Murphy. De Villiers, who has an enviable record in the Dakar Rally, was hampered by navigational issues during the 2024 event, which cost him significant time early in the race. He also struggled with punctures in the rocky stages and ended in 7th place overall. De Villiers was also instrumental in the development and testing of the latest version of the GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U, effectively sharing his experience with the entire team.

In addition to the three South African drivers, TGR also included two international crews for Dakar 2024. While youngster Seth Quintero, from the USA, has a fair amount of Dakar experience, the other new signing, Lucas Moraes, was himself a rookie at Dakar one year ago. His performance in 2023 identified him as an emerging talent in the world of rally-raid racing, and he was an ideal addition to the works team for 2024.

Moraes, from Brazil, was partnered with Spanish co-driver Armand Monleon for Dakar 2024. The pair showed exceptional pace and maturity throughout the event, winning Stage 3 and moving into second place on the penultimate stage before disaster struck. A series of setbacks cost them significant time, dropping them down to 9th place overall.

Finally, Seth Quintero and co-driver Dennis Zenz (Germany) started Dakar 2024 in fine form, showing that the reputation they earned in the T3 category was not in error. But then, they had a hard impact with a rock that damaged the twin-turbo V6 engine in their Toyota Hilux. The team was forced to fit a new engine, which incurred a massive penalty, and dropped the pair out of contention. They continued to compete for good stage results, supporting their teammates with spare parts where needed. In the end, the best they could muster was 42nd overall – a result that belies their pace and potential.

By the time the dust settled over the last of Dakar 2024’s 12 stages, TGR had achieved 6th, 7th and 9th places in the Top 10; while three other Toyota Hilux crews also attained positions in the Top 10.

This brought the Toyota Hilux representation in the Top 10 to 60%, clearly underlining the quality, durability and reliability of the GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U.

Next up for TGRSA will be Round 1 of the SARRC, which is set to take place during April, in the Mpumalanga town of Malalane.

Morizo comment on Dakar Rally 2024:
“Auto salons are not the only New Year's festivals where car enthusiasts gather. An equally traditional and more extreme festival for car lovers, on an even bigger scale, is held at the beginning of each year. It's the Dakar Rally.

Happy New Year to everyone who crossed the finish line in the Dakar Rally and finally celebrated the true start of the New Year. Thank you very much for your hard work on the 8000km long 15-day drive.

To everyone at TOYOTA GAZOO Racing,
No. 206 Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon, No. 209 Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy, No. 216 Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz, No. 226 Saood Variawa and Francois Cazalet, and No. 243 Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings who took on the challenge in the Hilux and completed the rally. Congratulations!

In total, the five cars have trained the Hilux on roads equivalent to one circumnavigation of the earth. Toyota will utilize everyone's driving skills to make the Hilux an "ever-better car". Thank you very much!

To everyone who took on the Dakar challenge in a hydrogen engine buggy,
“People who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world.”
I heard that the organizers complimented you on how crazy you are to think you can change the world.

I also think it's crazy to try to develop a hydrogen engine. But it's super fun and super exciting. That's why this year marks the fourth year of Morizo and his team's ongoing challenges with a hydrogen engine.

Thank you everyone for taking on this crazy challenge. Let's continue to create the future together!

To everyone at Hino Team Sugawara,
Congratulations on finishing sixth in your class and completing your 33rd consecutive Dakar!

Trucks that allow drivers to drive comfortably and reach their destinations with less strain are in demand around the world.

We hope you will continue to strive for a truck that is as comfortable as a regular passenger car and has an even better ride!

To everyone at Team Land Cruiser TOYOTA AUTO BODY,
Congratulations on winning the commercial car category for the 11th consecutive year!

Ronald Basso and Jean Michel Polato in car No. 501 overcame some trouble to complete the course, which was tougher than usual. Thank you for honing the Land Cruiser again this year!

I think car No. 500 achieved victory thanks to three people: driver Akira Miura alongside two navigators, Mayuel Barbe and the late Laurent Lichtleuchter, who was always watching over them.

This year's Dakar may have been a painful one for Miura. I'm really happy that car No. 500 was able to cross the finish line with the best result. Congratulations.

By chance, I made a promise with Team Land Cruiser called "V12". The promise was made when it was a V8. At the time, I thought it was a long road to a V12, but now I'm just one step away. That's really amazing. Team Land Cruiser, thank you for your continued support in "making-ever better Land Cruisers"!”

An ordinary guy who loves cars,

[2024 Dakar Rally]

Team Land Cruiser TOYOTA AUTO BODY
Team Land Cruiser TOYOTA AUTO BODY
Team Land Cruiser TOYOTA AUTO BODY
HySE: Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology
HySE: Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology
HySE: Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology


Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal:
“Dakar 2024 is over, and as you know, we’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs. Unfortunately, you’ve got to take it up and down and take the good with the bad. It’s been a tough journey. It’s been challenging. Unfortunately, we lost the podium finish yesterday on Stage 11. But you know what? We’ll just keep on going and be stronger.”

Alain Dujardyn, TGR W2RC Team Principal:
“Yes, I think these statistics are incredible because in overall of course all the five GAZOO Racing cars finished. But the end result is one Toyota Hilux in the top three, two Toyota, Hiluxes in the top five and six Toyota Hilux is in the top ten. So a remarkable achievement for the Toyota brand and the testimony of the quality, the durability and the reliability.”

Guy Botterill:
“Unbelievable. We got a puncture quite early on in today’s stage, so we had to take it easy. Brett was unbelievable throughout the race. I can’t believe we got to the end, and to be in the top 10 and to be sixth is unbelievable.”

Giniel de Villiers:
“It’s obviously not really the way we wanted it, but we’re here; we finished. Thanks to the team, they did a great job. So yeah, we’re happy to be here. Another one done. Thanks also to Dennis, as well as all our mechanics that worked on the car. It was certainly a very tough one this year, but we’re very happy to be at the finish.”

Saood Variawa:
“It’s unbelievable! I think it’s 4 500km of pure racing. Super, super tough. Really, really the toughest race in the world. I didn’t expect anything like this, but we made it to the finish. I did what I was supposed to do. The order I was given was to finish, and that’s what I did. And a few good stages with it. To be 18 and finishing the Dakar in a factory team is really incredible. And I just want to say thank you to the team, thank you to TOYOTA for the opportunity, and thank you to my co-driver and my family.”

Lucas Moraes:
“To be honest, when I look back, if you think that I’m gonna be top 10 on my second Dakar, it’s still unbelievable. Of course, after last year’s third place, you always want to improve. As you put the helmet on, you just want to go flat-out. Today, we were disappointed with the dust, but we enjoyed the stage a lot. We pushed a lot. Overall, we are happy to finish. Thanks to the whole TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team for the amazing job; all the sponsors, SpeedMax and all the media, as well as all the fans in Brazil.”

Seth Quintero:
“It was definitely a tough rally, and it’s not the way we wanted to go. But in hindsight, we learned a lot. We did a lot. We did a lot of testing, a lot of development, and had a lot of fun. But overall, I had a great time. And I can’t wait for the next race. I can’t wait for the next Dakar.”


1#203S. Loeb / F. LurquinBAHRAIN RAID XTREME1h 39min 41sec
2#221G. De Mevius / X. PanseriOVERDRIVE RACING+5:09
3#214V. Zala / P. FiuzaX-RAID ARIJUS TEAM+5:21
4#211G. Chicherit / A. WinocqOVERDRIVE RACING+5:29
5#217K. Holowczyc / L. KurzejaX-RAID MINI JCW TEAM+5:55
11#206L. Moraes / A. MonleonTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+8:20
13#216S. Quintero / D. ZenzTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+8:45
18#243G. Botterill / B. CummingsTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+10:52
19#209G. De Villiers / D. MurphyTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+11:07
22#226S. Variawa / F. CazaletTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+12:04


1#204C. Sainz / L. CruzTeam Audi Sport48h 15min 18sec
2#221G. De Mevius / X. PanseriOverdrive Racing+1:20:25
3#203S. Loeb / F. LurquinBahrain Raid Xtreme+1:29:12
4#211G. Chicherit / A. WinocqOverdrive Racing+1:35:59
5#208M. Prokop / V. ChytkaOrlen Jipocar Team+2:16:43
6#243G. Botterill / B. CummingsTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+2:40:33
7#209G. De Villiers / D. MurphyTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+2:50:26
9#206L. Moraes / A. MonleonTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+3:03:12
16#226S. Variawa / F. CazaletTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+5:54:41
42#216S. Quintero / D. ZenzTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+69:04:43

19 January 2024


  • Disappointment for Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon
  • Excellent performance by Saood Variawa and Francois Cazalet
  • Three TGR crews remain in overall Top 10
  • Six Toyota Hilux in overall Top 10

The penultimate stage of Dakar 2024 brought disappointment for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's leading crew of Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon. The Brazilian driver and his Spanish co-driver were hoping to retain their podium position over the closing stages of the event, but a series of problems put paid to their hopes of a solid result, relegating them to 9th in the overall standings. Earlier in the race, they celebrated their maiden stage win, yet motorsport is filled with highs and lows, and Stage 11 brought a low point for the GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U crew.

Lucas and Armand started the stage solidly in third place overall and had every hope of retaining this position to the finish of the event. However, first a broken damper, followed by a broken wishbone, all but halted their progress over the 11th stage, which stretched between the bivouac at Alula and the coastal city of Yanbu. Were it not for the assistance of their teammates, the TGR crew may well have been dealt an even crueller blow, but in the end, they dropped to 9th in the overall standings. This result also dealt a heavy blow to their World Rally-Raid Championship aspirations, as they failed to score any points towards the championship on Stage 11 of the rally.

While Stage 11 brought a low point for Lucas and Armand, it brough a high for TGR's rookie driver, Saood Variawa and his co-driver, Francois Cazalet. The GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U pairing brought their car home in the 5th-fastest time, despite stopping multiple times to assist Lucas and Armand and also to deal with a puncture of their own. They lost 12min 37sec to the leaders on the stage but cemented their overall position in 18th place in the process. Stage 11 was a stunning result for the youngster, who has shown exceptional pace whenever conditions allowed.

Next-fastest for TGR on Stage 11 was another rookie Dakar driver, in the form of Guy Botterill, who is partnered with Brett Cummings for this year's event. The pair had shown significant pace over parts of the rally, and in Stage 11 they set the 10th-fastest time, despite stopping for roughly 10min to assist Lucas and Armand. Had they simply powered on, they too may have recorded a Top 5 finish, but their camaraderie was exemplary, and the pair remain in 6th place in the overall standings, just 2hr 40min 31sec behind the leaders.

For Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy, Stage 11 of the 2024 Dakar Rally brought more challenges. The pair also stopped with Lucas and Armand and attempted to assist the stricken crew. They lost significant time in the process, relinquishing 39min 24sec to the stage winners in the process. Giniel and Dennis remain in 7th place overall, with just one stage remaining in the 2024 edition of the event.

TGR's final pairing of Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz had been side lined since early in the race, when a rock damaged their engine and forced the team to replace the twin-turbo V6 petrol unit in their car. This resulted in a massive penalty, which effectively dropped the pairing out of contention for the race. As such, they took on the mantle of 'water carriers' for the final stages of the rally, carrying spare parts and fluids for the cars ahead of them. This came into play during Stage 11, when they stopped with Lucas and Armand to donate spares, fitting one of their own dampers to the car of Lucas and Armand; and later doing the same with the broken wishbone.

In the end, both Seth/Dennis and Lucas/Armand accrued massive time losses on Stage 11. While this did not really impact on Seth/Dennis' results, it dealt a hard blow to Lucas and Armand, who were looking at a second place in the overall standings mid-way through the penultimate stage.

While Stage 11 was a tough one for TGR as a team, Toyota as a brand was well represented on the stage. Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq set the fastest time in their privately entered Toyota Hilux, while Guillaume de Mevius and Xavier Panseri went second-fastest. Together with the works crews, a total of five Toyota Hilux attained Top 10 positions, underscoring the toughness and reliability of the car.

A single stage remains in Dakar 2024, but at 137km in length, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the outcome of the rally. The stage, which will be run in the area to the northwest of the coastal Saudi city of Yanbu, will bring the rally to a finish, after 12 competitive stages that encompassed a large variety of terrain types.


Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal:
“Stage 11 of the 2024 Dakar Rally was an unbelievable tough test for all the competitors. Unfortunately, our team also fell foul to some of the many pitfalls that marked the stage, and Lucas and Armand lost out on their podium position in the overall standings. Still, we are encouraged by Saood and Francois' pace today, as they brought their GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U home in 5th place overall - a stunning performance by the rookie driver, which bodes well for the future.”

Alain Dujardyn, W2RC Team Principal:
“Today was a bitter pill for the team, as we had our hopes on a second place overall, following the mechanical woes experienced by Sebastien Loeb. In terms of the Word Rally-Raid Championship, we were hoping for a solid haul of points, but unfortunately that's not how things worked out. Even so, we still have three cars in the overall Top 10 of Dakar 2024, and in the W2RC, Lucas and Armand are in third place for the event. This was not the result we had hoped for, but this is the nature of motorsport, and we will continue our quest to score as many points as possible tomorrow. I would also like to congratulate Saood and Francois on a stellar performance in what was clearly an extremely tough stage. Finally, while the TGR Dakar Team may have slipped down the overall standings, we are encouraged by the results of our privateers, especially Guillaume de Mevius, who is driving in the T1U class for the first time this year, moving into second place overall.”

Guy Botterill:
“We had a very good run and we looked after the car. We went slow when we needed to go slow. We went fast when we needed to go fast. Brett was amazing on the navigation. And then we saw Lucas in a very narrow canyon with his wheel off. So, we stopped and took our damper off to give to Lucas. Luckily, Seth arrived, but we lost around 15 minutes in the process. I do think we were pretty good for a top five position, and I'm a bit disappointed with where we ended up. But that's the way it is.”

Lucas Moraes:
“A heart-breaking day for us, and we were just cruising, just enjoying the stage. Suddenly, we felt the car was loose on the road, and then the damper went off... We have to thank Seth and Dennis - these guys are amazing. They gave their damper, but then we started driving again and we saw the car was still not good, so we saw the upper wishbone was broken! It was all over, but then Seth stopped again, gave his wishbone and eventually, we finished the stage. It is really hard to lose like this, but I just want to say thanks to the whole team and the all the Brazilian fans. We'll come back stronger.”

Giniel de Villiers:
“That was a hectic stage! We were actually going along nicely, but then we stopped at Seth and Lucas. About 80km out, Lucas had broken his front damper, so Seth gave him his damper. Just a bit further on, Lucas stopped again. We decided to follow him, but his top wishbone was broken on both sides. It didn't really make sense for us to give him our wishbone. So, we tried to help him, and we tried to give him all the right tools. We tried to phone the team with a sat phone, but that didn't work either, so we had to make a call. I've never seen the wishbone break there. It was an absolutely crazy day.”

Saood Variawa:
“It was a really tough stage. At the start, we were going at a really good pace and we caught a few guys ahead of us. Then we stopped for a bit to let Lucas by and then we followed him for about 300 kilometres. We helped him change a puncture, but towards the end, we had a puncture ourselves. He was still ahead of us, and surprisingly I thought he'd still be at the finish. But it turns out he was still somewhere on the route...”


1#211G. Chicherit / A. WinocqOverdrive Racing4h 43min 00sec
2#221G. de Mevius / X. PanseriOverdrive Racing+5:32
3#204C. Sainz / L. CruzTeam Audi Sport+5:35
4#207M. Ekstrom / E. BergTeam Audi Sport+9:46
5#226S. Variawa / F. CazaletTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+12:37
10#243G. Botterill / B. CummingsTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+22:40
22#209G. De Villiers / D. MurphyTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+39:24
45#206L. Moraes / A. MonleonTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+2:09:33
48#216S. Quintero / D. ZenzTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+2:20:34


1#204C. Sainz / L. CruzTeam Audi Sport46h 24min 47sec
2#221G. de Mevius / X. PanseriOverdrive Racing+1:26:06
3#203S. Loeb / F. LurquinBahrain Raid Xtreme+1:40:02
4#211G. Chicherit / A. WinocqOverdrive Racing+1:41:20
5#208M. Prokop / V. ChytkaOrlen Jipcar Team+2:16:47
6#243G. Botterill / B. CummingsTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+2:40:31
7#209G. De Villiers / D. MurphyTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+2:50:09
9#206L. Moraes / A. MonleonTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+3:05:42
18#226S. Variawa / F. CazaletTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+5:53:27
42#216S. Quintero / D. ZenzTOYOTA GAZOO Racing+69:06:48

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