Giniel the pick of the bunch for TGR on Dakar Stage 5

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s South African pairing of Giniel de Villiers and co-driver, Dennis Murphy, were the pick of the TGR crews on Dakar 2024’s 5th stage, between Al-Hofuf and the bivaouc at Shubaytah.

They posted the 7th-fastest time on the stage, relinquishing only 4min 20sec to the stage winners. They are now in 11th place in the overall standings, 1hr 1min 44sec behind race leader Yazeed Al Rajhi, who campaigns a privately entered GR IMT Hilux EVO T1U.

Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings, another TGR pairing from South Africa, were 45th-fastest on the day. This was Guy’s first full stage in the dunes, and despite losing 11min 55sec to the leaders, the man from Durban was positive about his results, and looking forward to the two days of racing that remain before the Rest Day. Despite the time loss on Stage 5, Guy and Brett are in 13th position in the overall rankings, and still in touch with the leading pack.

Stage 5 brought more challenges for Saood Variawa and Francois Cazalet, as they started well down the order, in the dust of many slower competitors.

They found the going tough in the dunes but improved on their overall position despite finishing the stage in darkness. Their stage time of 1h 56min 41sec was good enough for 67th place on the day, and the rookie driver now finds himself in 29th place in the overall standings.

The stage also proved to be a tough one for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Lucas Moraes and co-driver, Armand Monleon, who had been cruising in fourth place in the overall standings. The short, sharp stage of 118km consisted solely of dunes, which resulted in a case of motion sickness for Lucas. The Brazilian driver slowed down to recover his senses, but in doing so miss-judged a dune and rolled his GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U over gently. While the car was undamaged, he lost time waiting for a fellow competitor to tow his car back on its wheels.

Help came in the form of fellow Brazilian Marcus Baumgart, who quickly assisted the TGR crew before continuing with his stage. As for Lucas and Armand, they lost 37min 16sec in the process, dropping them to 110th on the stage. By the time they reached the bivouac at Shubaytah, on the edge of Saudi's so-called Empty Quarter, the pair had dropped down to 10th in the overall standings. They will be aiming to improve on this over the coming days.

After his troubles of Stage 4, Seth Quintero and co-driver, Dennis Zenz, dropped out of contention in the overall standings. The young man from California and his German co-driver did not complete Stage 4, and incurred penalties for the waypoints they missed. They were also penalised by twenty hours for changing the engine in their GR Hilux EVO, following the problems of the previous stage. The second penalty was applied during Stage 5, which dropped them down the order in the stage results. However, their time was just 2min 52sec behind the stage winners, which would have put them in fifth place on the day.

With both penalties now reflected on the time sheets, Seth and Dennis may be out of contention, but they are still eligible to record points in the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), and as such will now shift their focus to that task. At the same time, Seth has voiced his goal of winning the so-called 48-hour “chrono” stage, which starts on Thursday, January 11th.

The 48-hour chrono will serve as Stage 6 of the rally, even though it is effectively run over two days. The crews will start from the bivouac at Shubaytah in southern Saudi Arabia, and race over a set course until precisely 4pm. Then, they will stop racing and sleep at the bivouac nearest to their position. There will be six bivouacs available, with no service crews and no communications allowed. This will effectively cause an information blackout for the race crews, who will resume racing at 8am the next morning. To complicate the stage, the cars and bikes will use different routes, making navigation tricky for the front-runners.

Once they reach the end of the stage, all the race cars will be loaded onto transporter trucks and ferried to the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The race crews will fly from the end of stage to the capital, where the rest day will follow on Saturday, January 13th.


Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: “Firstly, I would like to thank the team of technicians who worked tirelessly to prepare Seth’s car for the stage. Changing an engine overnight is a tough ask at the best of times, but doing it under pressure, after the car arrived late in the bivouac, is testament to the toughness of our team. Today, Giniel proudly flew the flag for the team, showing amazing tenacity after a few unlucky stages. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come over the next two days, as well as the final week of the event. Tomorrow’s ‘chrono’ stage promises to shake things up a lot, and we wish our race crews well with this new and unique challenge.”

Lucas Moraes: "We were going very well until about halfway, when I started feeling sick with motion sickness. I stopped to take a rest, but I rolled the car as we were coming to a stop. So, I had to wait for the car behind us to recover the car and then we kept going. But, I was feeling sick four times in a row, so we lost a bunch of time. Still, we're here; we survived somehow, ready for the 48-hour stage. The car is not too damaged, so all good."

Guy Botterill: "It went okay, considering this was my first proper 100% dune stage. A little bit nervous in the beginning I know, but in these very tricky dunes we just tried to keep it smooth and tidy and not make any mistakes. I think we went pretty well considering the little experience I've got in the dunes, so I'm not unhappy with that. I know it's not the quickest time, but we needed to get the car to the end and I need to build on my experience, so I'm really happy with today and how it went.”

Giniel de Villiers: "Very tricky dunes today. In the beginning it was very difficult to read and with the bright visibility it was quite tricky. So, we just tried to keep it nice and clean. Tomorrow's stage and the day after is going to be very important. I think we got a reasonable finishing position. So, I think that's very good for tomorrow. We had a good day today, no punctures, no issues."

Saood Variawa: "We started right at the back, I think in 107th. And we started late in the day. We passed a lot of trucks, a lot of cars. It was a tricky day in the dunes. A lot of drop-offs when we were going in the dunes. But we made it to the end. I think we also climbed our overall position up from back where we were. And at least we're in a better sort of position for tomorrow in the chrono stage. So, we look forward to going forward and learning from that. And obviously picking up the pace and get towards the faster pack. Unfortunately, the last 20 kms we were driving in the dark, so we couldn't even see the dunes properly."

Seth Quintero: "Actually, this stage wasn't too bad. I mean, it was only 118 kilometers or so. So, it was a short one, but took us a while to get through here. That sand is super soft coming from the back all broken up, but all in all, had a great day. I mean, considering the mechanics finished up the car at four or five this morning, I took off at seven. It's an impressive feat to bring it back here and be pretty close to the top guys again. But yeah, I'm stoked for tomorrow, 48 hours long. I don't really know what to expect out of it. We got a great starting position and we'll see what happens."


1. #200 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel 

(Nasser Racing)


2. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq

(Overdrive Racing)


3. #205 J. Yacopini / D. Oliveras Carreras

(Overdrive Racing)


4. #201 Y. Al Rajhi / T. Gottschalk

(Overdrive Racing)


5. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri

(Overdrive Racing)


6. #301 F. Lopez / J. Latrach Vinagre

(CAN-AM Factory Team)


7. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


8. #207 M.Ekstrom / E. Berg

(Team Audi Sport)


9. #305 A. Jones / G. Gugelmin

(CAN-AM Factory Team)


10. #302 E. Goczal / O. Mena

(Overdrive Racing)


45. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


67. #216 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


110. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


163. #216 S.Quintero / D. Zenz

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)



1. #201 Y. Al Rajhi / T. Gottschalk

(Overdrive Racing)

17h 24min 04sec

2. #200 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel

(Nasser Racing)


3. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz

(Team Audi Sport)


4. #207 M.Ekstrom / E. Berg

(Team Audi Sport)


5. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier

(Century Racing Team)


6. #202 S. Peterhansel / E. Boulanger

(Team Audi Sport)


7. #214 V. Zala / P. Fiuza

(X-Raid Arijus Team)


8. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri

(Overdrive Racing)


9. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin

(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)


10. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


11. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


13. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


26. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


61. #216 S.Quintero / D. Zenz

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)