FLY­ING HILUX

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - SPORT - ANA SPORTS RE­PORTER IN PISCO, PERU

IT WAS a fan­tas­tic start to Dakar 2019, when Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA’S three-toy­ota Hilux team tack­led the open­ing stage of the race on Mon­day.

For­mer race win­ners Nasser Al At­tiyah and nav­i­ga­tor Math­ieu Baumel set the pace from the start, win­ning the open­ing stage by just shy of two min­utes over last year’s win­ner, Carlos Sainz (MINI).

The pair, who also won the Rally of Morocco late in 2018, were sim­ply su­perb in the dunes, and quickly caught up with Sainz.

They elected to remain be­hind him, how­ever, as the gains to be made weren’t worth the risk at this early stage.

“Nasser and Math­ieu did ex­actly what was re­quired of them,” said an ecstatic Glyn Hall, Team Prin­ci­pal of Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA from Pisco.

“There’s al­ways the temp­ta­tion to throw cau­tion to the wind, but Nasser is an old hand and knows what it takes to win not only stages, but the race over­all.”

Al At­tiyah/baumel rep­re­sents the spear­head of the Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA charge, with Giniel de Vil­liers / Dirk von Zitze­witz com­plet­ing the stage 02:40 be­hind their team­mates, setting the sixth-fastest time in the process.

“We de­cided to go at a good pace, rather than push too hard on the open­ing stage,” said De Vil­liers af­ter com­plet­ing the 84 km-long test.

“There’s very lit­tle time to be made on such a rel­a­tively short stage, but even a small mis­take can put you on the back foot for the re­main­der of the race.”

Dutch star Bern­hard ten Brinke, part­nered with French nav­i­ga­tor Xavier Panseri, had much the same out­look. The pair set the eighth-fastest time, just over three min­utes be­hind Al At­tiyah/baumel.

All three crews re­ported flawless per­for­mances by the Toy­ota Hilux, and were ex­tremely pos­i­tive about the sus­pen­sion set-up.

With that said, the team com­pleted a fi­nal test on De Vil­liers’s car dur­ing the stage, and will now ap­ply the re­sults for the rest of the race.

“We are re­ally pleased with our per­for­mance to­day,” said Hall. “All three crews did ex­actly what we had planned, and I think the team is full of pos­i­tive en­ergy at this point. We have ev­ery rea­son to be up­beat, and we are look­ing for­ward to (the next) long stage.”

Stage 2 is 342 km in length, and as with the open­ing stage, is run mainly on mas­sive sand dunes.

This of­fers a stern nav­i­ga­tional chal­lenge for the co-pi­lots, while also test­ing the cars and driv­ers to their lim­its.

Dakar 2019 com­prises 10 stages, with a rest day at the mid­point. Yes­ter­day’s Stage 2 saw the crews start in the coastal town of Pisco, be­fore head­ing south­wards to San Juan de Mar­cona. The race will fin­ish on Jan­uary 17 in the Peru­vian cap­i­tal of Lima.

STAGE 1 RE­SULTS:

Al At­tiyah / Baumel (Toy­ota)

Sainz / Cruz (MINI) ............................. +01:59 Przy­gon­ski / Col­soul (MINI) ............. +02:00 Vasi­lyev / Zh­litsov (Toy­ota) ............... +02:18 Al Ra­jhi / Gottschalk (MINI) ............. +02:28 De Vil­liers / Von Zitze­witz (Toy­ota) .... +02:40 Peter­hansel / Castera (MINI) .......... +02:57 Ten Brinke / Panseri (Toy­ota) ........... +03:19 Hunt / Rosegaar (Peu­geot) ............. +03:25 De­spres / Cot­tret (MINI) ................... +04:25.

African News Agency (ANA)

Pic­ture: EPA-EFE Se­bas­tian Cas­taneda

PEDAL TO THE ME­TAL: Qatari driver Nasser Al-at­tiyah of Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing team com­petes in his Hilux dur­ing Mon­day’s first stage of the Rally Dakar 2019 be­tween Lima and Pisco.

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