Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy brought their GR IMT Hilux EVO T1+ home in the 9th-fastest time on Stage 8 of Dakar 2024. The 2009 winner of the Dakar Rally and his co-driver had a clean run, only relinquishing time to the stage winners in a rough section near the finish, where they opted for caution rather than chancing a puncture. Their time loss in the end was 10min 18sec, and they remain in 5th place in the overall standings. The gap to the crew ahead of them is just 11min, so the South African pairing will be aiming to improve on their position over the closing stages of the race.
Rookie driver, Guy Botterill, together with co-driver Brett Cummings, recorded another good stage, setting the 18th-fastest time. They were on track for a better result, but a puncture near the end of the stage cost them just over two minutes. Guy has limited experience in the dune, but Stage 8 offered him the opportunity to shadow some of the faster competitors through the tricky dune section. As such, he has steadily been increasing his knowledge, and will be hoping to move up from the 9th position he currently occupies in the overall standings.
TGR’s Saood Variawa, also taking part in his first Dakar Rally, had a tough time on Stage 7, with a host of problems that hampered his progress. As a result, he started Stage 8 way down the order, but recorded a clean run despite dusty conditions, to set the 19th-fastest time on the stage. He lost 18min 9sec to the leaders and is in 25th place overall.
Stage 8 of the 2024 Dakar Rally brought valuable World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) points for both Seth Quintero and teammate, Lucas Moraes. The Brazilian driver, however, is still in a podium position in the overall standings, and while W2RC points are important to him, too, he will be focusing on achieving the best possible result at the Dakar Rally.
Stage 8 took the teams from the bivaouc at Al Duwadimi to the city of Ha’il. The stage started with a liaison of 125km, linking the bivouac with the start of the stage. Next up was a timed section of 458km, which included a long transfer at restricted speeds, before the crews completed a final liaison of 95km to bring them to Ha’il.
For Lucas and co-driver, Armand Monleon, the stage went smoothly, though they ended up as the first car on the road towards the end of the day. This hampered their progress somewhat, but despite the added challenge of finding the route, they posted the 7th-fastest time of the day, just 9min 51sec behind the stage winners. This has cemented their third place in the overall standings, where they trail the overall leader by 1hr 5min 35sec. The gap to second place is 40min 48sec, and their lead over the crew behind them is 29min 5sec.
While Lucas and Armand are contending for a podium position, teammates Seth and Dennis are out of overall contention in the race. They are, however, eligible to score W2RC points, and as such their focus remains on solid stage performances. They went 5th-fastest on Stage 8, finishing just 7min 52sec down on the stage winners.
Next up is Stage 9 of the rally, which will see the crews leave from the bivouac in Ha’il, and head towards the tourist city of Alula, where the race began on January 6th. The stage will start with a short liaison of 76km, before a tough 436km timed section that covers asphalt, dirt, sand, dunes and rocky traverses. A final liaison of 149km will take the crews to the bivouac at Alula, where the rally will remain encamped for two nights, before the final trek to the coastal city of Yanbu, where the rally will finish on Friday.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing would like to extend its condolences to the friends and family of biker Carles Falcon, from Spain, who passed away today following a crash on Stage 2 of the event. While we learnt of his passing with sadness, we believe his spirit lives on with all the crews and riders who continue to contest events like the Dakar Rally, continuously pushing their own limits.