Dakar 2024 saw its first action on Friday, January 5th, with a short Prologue of 28km. While the time posted during the Prologue doesn’t count towards the overall race times in the rally, the results of the Prologue is used to determine the starting positions for Stage one.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Seth Quintero and co-driver Dennis Zenz set the fastest time of the five TGR crews, posting the second-fastest time on the day. The pair were just 23sec off the pace set by the eventual winners of the Prologue, and 15sec clear of the car behind them. This means their final starting position will be determined by a draw prior to Stage one, but they are sure to be in a strong attacking position.
Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon took a more cautious approach to the Prologue, opting to aim for a slot just outside the Top 10, as the tenth-fastest car on the Prologue was sure to have to open the road for Stage one. They managed to go 15th-fastest, setting them up perfectly for the opening test on January 6th.
There was disappointment for TGR stalwarts Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy, as the pair selected the wrong route when entering a canyon, and lost more than three minutes as a result. While the time loss in itself is of no consequence, they will have to start the race well down the order in 44th place, which will place them among many slower competitors and race trucks – a tough test for the experienced GR Hilux EVO T1U crew.
TGR’s two rookie crews posted solid times, despite starting the Prologue down the order. Saood Variawa and co-driver Francois Cazalet were 23rd, just 1min 41sec behind the leaders; while Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings were 33rd, 2min 15sec adrift.
With the Prologue done, the race will start in earnest, with Stage one following on Saturday, January 6th. The stage will start with a liaison of 84km, before a timed section of 414km. A final liaison of 46km will bring the crews to the bivouac at Al Henakiyah. Dakar 2024 consists of 12 stages, with the event drawing to a close on January 19th, in the coastal city of Yanbu.