TOUGH PENULTIMATE STAGE OF RALLY MOROCCO YIELDS GOOD RESULTS FOR TOYOTA SA DAKAR TEAM
AGADIR, MOROCCO – The fourth and penultimate stage of the 2015 Rally of Morocco, which took place on Thursday October 8th, proved a tough challenge. This was true not only for the Toyota SA Dakar Team, but also for rally leader Carlos Sainz (Peugeot), who was forced to retire with technical problems. Despite the tough terrain and navigational challenges, both Toyota SA Dakar Team crews not only survived the stage, but improved on their overnight positions to boot.
The drive of the day has to go to Leeroy Poulter, who started the 293 km Stage 4 plagued by waves of nausea and fever. Poulter, assisted by navigator Rob Howie, initially found the going tough. To make matters worse, the pair suffered two punctures early in the stage, losing a substantial amount of time with the changes. Then, despite the illness, and the fact that the pair is driving an older specification Toyota Hilux, they managed to maintain their position in the order.
“Leeroy really struggled this morning, but thankfully he managed to focus on the job at hand,” said Team Principal of the Toyota SA Dakar Team, Glyn Hall, from the bivouac in the coastal city of Agadir. “They ended up posting the 9th fastest time of the day – astounding if you consider the cars ahead of them.”
With Sainz falling by the wayside, Poulter/Howie’s drive today saw them move up into 5th place in the overall standings. They are now only 09:20 behind teammates Giniel de Villiers and his navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz.
The former Dakar winners, driving the latest specification Toyota Hilux race vehicle, also found the stage quite tricky, but managed to catch and pass one of the competitors ahead of them quite early on.
“Unfortunately we suffered a puncture shortly after, and had to stop for a tyre change,” explains De Villiers. “Not long after, the guys ahead of us also had a puncture, but they pulled in just ahead of us and we had to sit in their dust for about 170 km.”
Despite this setback, De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz posted the 5th fastest time on the stage, and with Sainz out of the picture, now find themselves in fourth place overall. They are only five minutes behind fellow Toyota Hilux driver Vladimir Vasiliyev of Russia, and with a 237 km final stage to come, the podium beckons.
As things stand, it is defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah (MINI) who lead the Rally of Morocco by just over 16 minutes from Toyota’s Yazeed Al Rajhi. Al Rajhi is the leader of a pack of four Toyota Hilux race vehicles, occupying second to fifth place in the overall standings.
The Rally of Morocco concludes on Friday October 9th, with a 237 km stage that starts and ends in the city of Agadir. The stage, known as The Loop of Agadir, features a variety of narrow tracks that will keep the drivers on their toes. While it may not be the longest stage of the 5-stage rally by any means, Stage 5 can still trip up any unwary competitors, and as always with motorsport, it isn’t over until the dust settles.
Fans can follow the fortunes of the Toyota SA Dakar team by visiting www.toyota.co.za, www.facebook.com/toyotasouthafrica or by following @toyotaSA on Twitter.
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Dakar Sponsors, Specialist Official Suppliers and Technical Partners:
Hallspeed, TFM, Castrol, SKF, Spanjaard, Robor, NGK, Donaldson, Mastercraft, Sat4Rent, Oakley, Edgecam, Reiger, Supreme Springs, FreeM, Bosch, Smiths Manufacturing and Shatterprufe. Also Duxbury Netgear, Innovation, Toyota Financial Services, SAA Cargo and Toyota.
Note to editors:
Difference between Cross-Country, Off-Road and Rally racing: The Morocco Rally, similar to Dakar, is a cross-country race where vehicles race between GPS waypoints as opposed to existing roads. In a rally (a la WRC) the cars race along closed roads. In an off-road race the competitors follow routes not suitable for cars, but they still have a set route to follow.
For the purpose of the Morocco Rally, the event is called a rally, though it doesn't conform to the definition of a traditional rally. It has timed race (stages) and liaison (open road) sections where they do not race against the clock, but still have to depart at certain predetermined times and clock in before a given deadline to avoid time penalties.
In a rally, competitors race in similar fashion, but use multiple short stages (up to 25-35km each; around 5 or 6 special stages per day; 2-3 days per event).
In off-road racing an event consists of one long stage on a single day only, and an event is usually run over 2 days.