South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, partnered with Spanish co-driver, Alex Haro, won Stage 2 of Dakar 2020, between Al Wajh and Neom. The pair drove a perfect stage despite setting off as the 14th car on the road, and brought their South African-built Toyota Hilux home in the fastest time of the day. They beat MINI’s Orlando Terranova to the post by 3min 57sec, and move up to 6th place in the overall standings as a result, 12min 04sec behind the leaders.
“Sometimes you have a bad day on the Dakar, like we had yesterday – and other days you have good ones,” said an elated De Villiers after parking the Toyota in the bivouac at the future megacity of Neom, on the Saudi Arabian coast. “Today was a good day, and we are happy to be back on track. Now we just need more days like this.”
While De Villiers / Haro completed the 367 km-long special stage without any punctures, the same couldn’t be said for their teammates. Defending champions Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel suffered two punctures on the day, and finished the day as the 5th-fastest car on the stage, dropping 11min 46sec to De Villiers/Haro in the process. The Qatari, however, remained upbeat about his chances in the world’s toughest automotive race, and is looking forward to a good road position from which to attack Stage 3. The pair are in third place overall, 06min 07sec behind overall leader, Orlando Terranova (MINI).
Dutchman Bernhard ten Brinke and co-driver Tom Colsoul (Belgium) were hamstrung by four punctures, with the last coming just 20 km from the finish. They were fortunate to have the flying De Villiers behind them, and the South African stopped briefly to give them one of his surplus tyres.
“I’m very grateful to my benefactor in the form of Giniel,” said Ten Brinke from the bivouac at Neom. “If it wasn’t for him and Alex, we might not have made it home at all.”
As it turned out, Ten Brinke / Colsoul lost 26min 05sec on Stage 2, posting only the 15th-best time of the day. They are now 21min 23sec adrift in the general classification, in 10th place.
It was a day of highs and lows for Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma. The Spanish duo started the day on a high, posting highly competitive times in the early parts of the stage. But then they lost the left front wheel of their Toyota Hilux after making contact with a rock, and lost hours making running repairs.
In the end, Stage 2 set them 2hrs 34min 38sec back, and they now find themselves in 48th place in the overall standings, 2hrs 38min 53sec behind the leaders.
“It was a disappointing end to the stage for Fernando and Marc,” said TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Team Principal, Glyn Hall, from the bivouac after Stage 2. “They were really quick early on, but unfortunately the results won’t show that. Still, they came through in the end, and while we were hoping to keep them up the order, we’re confident that Fernando will still make it to the end of the race.”
The end of the race is still 10 stages away, with Stage 3 on the cards next. This will be a looped stage, starting and ending on the outskirts of the future megacity of Neom, on the Red Sea coast. The stage comprises 414 km over sandy terrain, with large rock outcroppings and mountains marking the route.
From there the Dakar Rally turns inland, before heading towards the nation’s capital of Riyadh for the rest day. Week 2 of the 2020 Dakar Rally will take place in the so-called Empty Quarter, before the race concludes on January 17th, back in Riyadh.
STAGE 2 Results – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing:
1. De Villiers / Haro 03:37:20
5. Al-Attiyah / Baumel +11:46
15. Ten Brinke / Colsoul +26:05
63. Alonso / Coma +02:34:38
OVERALL STANDINGS After Stage 2 – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing:
3. Al-Attiyah / Baumel +06:07
6. De Villiers / Haro +12:04
10. Ten Brinker / Colsoul +21:23
48. Alonso / Coma +02:38:53