BOX 5, Westhoven, 2142
Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and his French co-driver, Mathieu Baumel, successfully defended the Dakar title they won for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR) in 2022, when they brought their GR DKR Hilux T1+ over the finish line of the final stage of Dakar 2023 on 15 January. The pair lost 5min 41sec to the stage winners, but that hardly mattered, as they sealed the overall victory with a winning margin of 1hr 20min 49sec.
The final stage of Dakar 2023 was a 136km-long test that started from the bivouac at Al-Hofuf. Competitors had to complete a short liaison of 167km before taking on Stage 14, which was then followed by a final liaison of 100km to the finish podium in the coastal city of Dammam.
For Nasser, this was his fifth win in the Dakar Rally, while Mathieu’s tally is now four victories. The pair have won three times for Toyota, with the latest victories coming in a back-to-back display of quality, durability and reliability for the Japanese manufacturer. The pair took over the lead of the event on Stage 2, and never relinquished that position.
Giniel de Villiers, who completed his twentieth consecutive Dakar Rally when he crossed the finish line near Dammam, ended the rally in 4th place in the overall standings. This result brings his total number of Top 5 finishes to 15, including one victory in 2009. The South African has only finished outside the Top 10 on one occasion, and his performance in the 2023 Dakar Rally underscores the toughness and tenacity of one of the Dakar Rally’s true veteran racers. Together with co-driver Dennis Murphy, Giniel finished this year’s 45th edition of the rally in fine style, posting a Top 10 time on the closing stage.
Dakar 2023 will long be remembered by Henk Lategan and co-driver Brett Cummings as a race that could have turned out very differently for them. They moved as high as 2nd place in the overall standings, before two setbacks pushed them down the order. The pair showed great pace throughout the rally, and will be hoping for a truer reflection of their speed in future editions. Even so, they finished in 5th place overall, less than 5min behind their teammates in fourth.
Toyota dominated the Dakar 2023 results, with the works TGR crews finishing 1st, 4th and 5th. A privately entered Toyota Hilux T1+ in the hands of the young Brazilian, Lucas Moraes, added to the Japanese manufacturer’s tally, by finishing in third place overall. This was Lucas’ first attempt at the Dakar Rally, though he had an experienced co-driver in the form of Timo Gottschalk beside him in the car.
Glyn Hall, TGR Dakar Team Principal: “What a day for our entire team! Winning Dakar is something memorable, but winning the world’s toughest race twice in a row is simply extraordinary. My sincere thanks to every member of our team, every one of our sponsors and, of course, our drivers and co-drivers, who delivered a stunning result. I’m really proud of our GR DKR Hilux T1+, which has proven yet again that it is reliable and durable enough to not only complete the world’s roughest automotive race, but to do so two years in a row.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “This in amazing feeling! I have to thank so many people, starting with every member of our team. It was a tough two weeks, but to be able to come back and defend our title is fantastic! I’m really proud of our Toyota Hilux T1+, and to win the race three times with Toyota is truly something special.”
Giniel de Villiers: “The Dakar is always full of challenges, and we certainly had our share of challenges this year. Of course, it could’ve been better for us, but then many competitors can probably say the same. It would have been nice to be on the podium, but overall, as a manufacturer, Toyota has every reason to be proud. I think this result has just proven the reliability of the Hilux once again, and we again managed to showcase this amazing car in Saudi Arabia this year.”
Henk Lategan: “Dakar 2023 has been a rollercoaster for us. It has been a tough two weeks for us, with some extremely good days; but also some disappointing ones. It does feel good to be in the Top 5 after such a tough Dakar, and I think they’ve thrown everything at us this year. With that in mind, it feels fantastic to be at the end of the race, and while we’ll always wonder what might have been, we are very happy to bring the car home in a good position.”
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with its partners Red Bull, Kinto, Eurol and the Innovation Group. The team is also supported by Hallspeed, SKF, Spanjaard, Edgecam, Supreme Springs, Shatterprufe, Smith’s Manufacturing, Oakley, Lumotech, OMP, MSA, SACCS and the FIA. Thanks also to Ingco, Jonsson Workwear and USN for their support.