– Six Toyota Hiluxes finish inside the top 11 at the finish in Yanbu
– Krotov, Yacopini, Chabot and Baud finish 11th, 26th, 31st and 33rd
– Yazeed Al-Rajhi led the Dakar outright for three days before crashing
Overdrive Racing and Toyota Gazoo Racing won four of the 12 stages and finished the 46th Dakar Rally with Toyota Hiluxes in second, fourth, sixth, seventh, ninth and 11th overall.
Guillaume de Mévius and Xavier Panseri were the team’s star duo in a Toyota GR DKR Hilux prepared by Overdrive Racing. The Belgian won the opening stage and gradually climbed back into contention after first week time losses to finish in a sensational second overall behind the triumphant Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz.
De Mévius said: « For sure, I’m very happy. It was a crazy race. We never expected to be on the podium. We always dreamed about it, but it was not the objective at the beginning of the race. It’s an amazing feeling to be here, it’s an amazing feeling to be second. Thank you to Overdrive, thank you to the team, thank you to my family and my friends who have given a lot of support. It’s an amazing feeling. It was very challenging with long stages. It was hard, but we made it. The feeling is incredible. »
Team mates, Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq, were 11th at the rest day in Riyadh after power steering failure and pressed on during the run north over the second week to win two special stages en route to fourth place in their Overdrive Racing car.
Chicherit said: « The time lost in stages three and four is what separates us from the winners today. It’s frustrating, but I prefer to focus on the positive, which is our fantastic recovery in the overall standings. Alex (Winocq) did an incredible job on the navigation, especially in the challenging stage 11 when we opened the route and won, which is rare in our sport. I also want to congratulate Guillaume (de Mévius) and Xavier (Panseri) for their outstanding second place. Our performances have really put our new team in the spotlight. »
The Toyota Gazoo Racing trio of Guy Botterill/Brett Cummings, Giniel de Viliers/Dennis Murphy and Lucas Moraes/Armand Monleón reached the finish in sixth, seventh and ninth overall, although Moraes was running as high as second until he lost time on the penultimate stage. Botterill was the leading rookie finisher.
Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov delivered another solid performance to finish just outside the top 10 in 11th place in their Overdrive Racing Toyota.
The Italian duo of Eugenio Amos and Paulo Ceci stopped on the final stage and lost their chance of finishing inside the top 20.
Ronan Chabot and Gilles Picard were not registered for the W2RC, but the French crew finished 31st, two places ahead of Argentina’s Juan-Cruz Yacopini and Spanish co-driver Daniel Oliveras.
The French father and daughter crew of Lionel and Lucie Baud were classified in 33rd overall. Baud said: « We were on this incredibly tough race to share emotions. After experiencing issues with the car’s hydraulic jacks, the electronic control unit broke down in the infamous 48-hour stage. We managed to finish the stage in survival mode, the car slowing down gradually. Just 500 meters from the finish line, the car was moving at 10km/h. We thought we wouldn’t make it. The car definitively broke down right on the finish line. It was impossible to go two metres further. We were out of the race by just two metres after completing the 547km of challenging dunes. What we went through with Lucie is indescribable. But it is fantastic to finish this race! »
Talented young American Seth Quintero was not eligible to challenge for Dakar honours after his Hilux underwent an engine block change during the first week and he was running well until he crashed off a big drop on stage 10. He and co-driver Dennis Zenz did make the finish in Yanbu.
As feared, Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk were not able to start the second half of the event after their accident on the first part of stage six. Al-Rajhi, who led the event for three days, said: « The roll cage did a great job and protected us perfectly during the roll over. But it was damaged in the process and repairs were not permitted. We are proud to have led the Dakar Rally and helped set the pace. Now we have to look to the future and do everything we can to fight for the W2RC title. »
The Spanish duo of Isidre Esteve Pujol and José-Maria Villalobos ran an Overdrive Racing-built Toyota Hilux under the Repsol Toyota Rally Team banner. After transmission issues on stage six, the crew spent two nights under the stars. Villalobos removed the front driveshafts and the cardan shaft but they then got stuck fast at the bottom of a dune for hours. However, the crew recovered well during the second week and managed to finish the event.
Riyadh – Yanbu
Numerous time penalties for speeding, missing waypoints and failing to complete the gruelling 48-hour Marathon stage six were issued on the rest day in Riyadh before action resumed with a tricky stage of 482.40km between the capital and Al-Duwadimi.
Moraes shadowed stage-winner Sébastien Loeb to the finish and moved up to third overall following Mattias Ekström’s on-stage woes. Chicherit, Quintero, Krotov, De Villiers and De Mévius came home in fifth, ninth, 10th, 11th and 15th places with De Mévius, De Villiers and Chicherit climbing to fourth, fifth and eighth overall, despite Chicherit having two flat tyres on the stage.
Moraes said: « It was very, very difficult, especially because we were the third car on the road pretty much the whole stage. Basically, with no lines, it’s really hard to go through the rocks because, when you have more cars, the rocks form a line. We just got one small puncture, maybe 50km from the end, so we decided to keep going and finish on the rim. So, here we are, seven stages in, in a good position. The goal is to fight for the podium and, who knows, I still believe in the win. Six more to go and we need to keep fighting. We’ll keep pushing. »
Stage eight ran for 458km between Al-Duwadimi and Hail in the central northwest region of Saudi Arabia. Veteran Sainz increased his cushion over Loeb to 24min 47sec on a stage where Moraes, De Mévius and De Villiers retained third, fourth and fifth overall in their Toyotas and Chicherit climbed to sixth with the third fastest time. There were six Toyotas inside the top 10.
Chicherit said: « It was really rocky at the end, sandy at the beginning, the navigation was not easy – quite tough, I would say. We didn’t have any punctures today, so that’s good, we could push. »
Stage nine ran for 435.51km between Ha’il and a return to Al-Ula. Sainz and Loeb diced for the stage win and Moraes, De Mévius, and Chicherit came home in third, sixth and 13th to hold fourth, third and seventh in the general classification.
Chabot finished strongly. The Frenchman said: « It was a very difficult day, very tired and a lot of rocks, a lot of jumps. But we are happy to be here, beautiful, beautiful country… »
The 10th stage looped through the deserts around Al-Ula for 370.72km. On a stage where Loeb and Sainz stopped on more than one occasion with flat tyres and the Frenchman reduced the Spaniard’s lead by over seven minutes, Chicherit recorded his ninth career Dakar stage win and the first with Overdrive Racing. Amos and Yacopini came home fourth and Moraes, De Mévius, Chicherit and De Villiers held third, fourth, fifth and eighth in the overall rankings.
Chicherit said: « I thought it was going to be really hard for us because we started with a puncture. After that, I slowed down. I tried to avoid other punctures. We caught some other cars. The dust made it really difficult, especially because our Push button was not working well. We finished the last 150km behind other cars – impossible to pass them or too risky. I’m a bit surprised we won today, but it’s always good to take the win. »
Overdrive Racing’s Jean-Marc Fortin added: « Guerlain won the stage today and Guillaume is doing a fantastic job. All the others, they also made a great stage. We were controlling the punctures and we just lost Quintero, who jumped a big, big drop, but we have three cars in the top five. »
The penultimate stage from Al-Ula to Yanbu headed through the stunning rocky deserts for 419.65km and Chicherit, De Mévius and Matthieu Serradori battled it out for the stage win. The laurels went to Chicherit for a second day, the Frenchman beating his Overdrive Racing team-mate De Mévius by 5min 32sec.
De Mévius said: « It was a tough stage. We got a puncture just before the end, 30km from the end. Now we have to keep our position. We will see what is going on at the front.. »
Yacopini came home in seventh and, after Loeb had stopped with a broken suspension arm, it meant that Toyotas headed into the final day holding second, fourth, sixth and seventh in the rankings – Moraes stopped with technical issues after 360km, lost two hours and slipped back to ninth place.
De Mévius began the final stage of just 173.89km around Yanbu trailing Sainz by 1hr 26min 06sec. The Belgian claimed the second fastest time behind Loeb and confirmed second place behind Sainz with Chicherit coming home fourth to secure fourth overall.
2024 Dakar Rally – result
1. Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP) Audi RS Q E-tron E2, 48hr 15min 18sec
2. Guillaume de Mevius (BEL)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 49hr 35min 43sec
3. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Fabian Lurquin (BEL) BRX Prodrive Hunter, 49hr 44min 30sec*
4. Guerlain Chicherit (FRA)/Alex Winocq (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 49hr 51min 17sec
5. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Viktor Chytka (CZE) Ford Raptor RS, 50hr 32min 01sec
6. Guy Botterill (ZAF)/Brett Cummings (ZAF) Toyota GR DKR Hilux, 50hr 55min 51sec*
7. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dennis Murphy (ZAF) Toyota GR DKR Hilux, 51hr 05min 44sec*
8. Benediktas Vanagas (LTU)/Kuldar Sikk (LTU) Toyota Hilux, 51hr 12min 35sec*
9. Lucas Moraes (BRA)/Armand Monleón (ESP) Toyota GR DKR Hilux, 51hr 18min 30sec
10. Mathieu Serradori (FRA)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Century CR6-T, 51hr 19min 30sec
11. Denis Krotov (KGZ)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (ISR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 51hr 54min 31sec
12. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Valentin Sarreaud (FRA) MD Optimus, 52hr 36min 09sec
13. Cristian Baumgart (BRA)/Alberto Andreotti (BRA) Prodrive Hunter, 52hr 37min 17sec
14. Romain Dumas (FRA)/Max Delfino (FRA) Toyota Hilux, 52hr 48min 29sec*
15. Laia Sanz (ESP)/Maurizio Gerini (ITA) Astara CR6-T, 53hr 09min 04sec*
16. Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP)/Pablo Moreno Huete (ESP) Taurus T3 Max, 53hr 59min 47sec*
17. Saood Variawa (ZAF)/François Cazalet (FRA) Toyota GR DKR Hilux, 54hr 09min 59sec
18. Mitch Guthrie (USA)/Kellon Walch (USA) Taurus T3 Max, 54hr 35min 33sec
19. Jérôme Pélichet (FRA)/Pascal Larroque (FRA) MD Optimus, 54hr 51min 14sec*
20. Rokas Baciuška (LTU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo, 54hr 58min 34sec
26. Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Oliveras (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 57hr 41min 00sec
31. Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 58hr 38min 40sec*
33. Lionel Baud (FRA)/Lucie Baud (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 59hr 17min 26sec
52. Eugenio Amos (ITA)/Paulo Ceci (ITA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 65hr 56min 36sec
89. Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (DEU) Toyota GR DKR Hilux, 117hr 20min 01sec
Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive RETIRED – SS6
* denotes NOT registered for W2RC