Te­am Toyo­ta Ga­zoo Ra­cing on di­sap­poin­ting last sta­ge

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The re­cent­ly con­clu­ded Qa­tar Ral­ly tur­ned in­to a hu­ge di­sap­point­ment for the South A­fri­can Toyo­ta Ga­zoo Ra­cing te­ams. Qa­tar’s Nas­ser Al At­tiy­ah and F­rench co-dri­ver Ma­thieu Bau­mel led the ra­ce until the very last sta­ge in their South A­fri­can-built Toyo­ta Hi­lux, be­fo­re being for­ced to re­ti­re due to a pro­blem with the vehi­cle’s dry sump sy­stem.

“It was a gre­at e­vent for us, rig­ht up to the fi­nal sta­ge,” said Al At­tiy­ah from the Qa­ta­ri ci­ty of Doha. “We we­re ra­cing at an ex­cel­lent pa­ce on sta­ge fi­ve, but then we had a pro­blem and had to stop.”

As a mat­ter of fact, the Toyo­ta Ga­zoo Ra­cing SA crew we­re mo­re than 12 mi­nu­tes up on the se­cond-pla­ced crew of Ja­kub Pr­zy­gon­ski and Tom Con­soul (Mi­ni) at the 140km-mark and we­re look­ing set to ta­ke their fourth con­se­cu­ti­ve vic­to­ry in Qa­tar.

“Our Toyo­ta Hi­lux is u­su­al­ly ex­tre­me­ly re­li­a­ble. We didn’t fo­re­see this pro­blem at all,” said a di­sap­poin­ted Toyo­ta Ga­zoo Ra­cing SA te­am prin­ci­pal, G­lyn Hall, af­ter the ra­ce. “Nas­ser and Ma­thieu had wor­ked hard for this vic­to­ry in dif­fi­cult con­di­ti­ons. It was very di­sap­poin­ting for them not to re­ap their just re­ward.”

The Toyo­ta Ga­zoo Ra­cing crews had been the pick of the bunch from the get-go, with Al At­tiy­ah and Bau­mel win­ning e­very sta­ge of the e­vent ex­cept for the last one.

Te­am-ma­tes Gi­niel de Vil­liers and Ro­bert Ho­wie, in an i­den­ti­cal Toyo­ta Hi­lux, pos­ted the se­cond-fas­test ti­me on the o­pe­ning sta­ge, but had to re­ti­re from the ra­ce af­ter Ho­wie in­ju­red his back in a hard lan­ding on sta­ge two. “In terms of the o­ver­all re­sults, t­hings cer­tain­ly didn’t go our way,” said Hall. “But as much as we ca­me he­re to win, we al­so ca­me to test and pre­pa­re for Da­kar 2019, which is our main go­al.”

The te­am com­ple­ted two full days of tes­ting in the de­sert pri­or to the ra­ce and con­ti­nu­ed tes­ting throug­hout the e­vent.

Both crews we­re very po­si­ti­ve af­ter the test ses­si­on and felt that the te­am had ma­de im­por­tant stri­des in the de­ve­lop­ment of the la­test Toyo­ta Hi­lux.

In­ju­red co-dri­ver Ro­bert Ho­wie has been re­le­a­sed from hos­pi­tal in Doha and ma­de his way back to South A­fri­ca.

The for­mer c­ham­pi­on na­vi­ga­tor will un­der­go furt­her scans and tre­at­ment, with a view to re­tur­ning to the cock­pit as soon as pos­si­ble. De Vil­liers and Ho­wie’s car was flo­wn back to South A­fri­ca for the Batt­le­field 400 in May.

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