Giniel just outside Top 10, midway through 48 hour Dakar stage

The innovative 48 hour ‘Chrono’ stage of the 2024 Dakar Rally started near the bivouac at Shubaytah on Thursday, 11 January, and has proven an extremely tough test for all the crews.

The unique setup of Stage 6 saw the crews start at the bivouac near Shubaytah, from there they raced along a conventional stage until 4pm local time. At that moment, all the crews were stopped, and directed to one of seven bivouacs dotted along the stage. Crews had to clock in at the bivouac nearest their position, where they would overnight without the benefit of service to their cars, before resuming racing at 7am the next morning. They would then complete the remainder of the 549km-long stage, after which both the cars and the race crews would be ferried to the Saudi capital of Riyadh for the Rest Day, which takes place on Saturday, 13 January.

For TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, the stage was largely trouble free, with all five GR DKR Hilux EVO T1Us making it safely to various bivouacs. Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy made it safely to Bivouc D - one of the later bivouacs along the route - setting the 11th-fastest time at that point; while Guy Botterill and co-driver, Brett Cummings, set the 17th-fastest time by the same point in the stage.

Fastest of the five works crews was Lucas Moraes and his co-driver, Armand Monleon, who was in 4th place according to the rankings at Bivouac D. Teammates Seth Quintero and his co-driver, Dennis Zenz, were 8th-fastest by the time the race was paused, bunking in the same bivouac as Lucas and Armand. The American driver is out of contention for the race, but keen on setting competitive stage times throughout the remainder of the rally.

The team's final pairing consists of rookie driver Saood Variawa, who is paired with co-driver Francois Cazalet for the race. The young driver struggled to select reverse gear in his car, but the problem was quickly sorted. He made good progress after that, only to fall foul to the dreaded motion sickness - a problem that many crews face in the sea of dunes that mark Saudi Arabia's so-called Empty Quarter. Saood and Francois were the 36th car into Stage 6, and as such they were running further down the order than their teammates. They made it to Bivouac C by the end of play at 4pm and will resume racing from that point in the morning.

While all the TGR crews made it safely to the various bivouacs, the privately entered Toyota Hilux EVO of Yazeed Al Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk was severely damaged in a heavy crash early in the stage. The overall race leaders rolled their car end-over-end, and while the crew were uninjured in the crash, the car was unable to continue.

This is a bitter blow for the privateer, who had hopes of becoming the first Saudi Arabian to win the Dakar Rally - and to do so on home soil. The car will now be returned to Riyadh, where his team's technicians will assess it in order to determine if it can be safely repaired, and re-entered in for the remainder of the race, so that Yazeed and Timo can continue scoring points towards the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC).

In the meantime, the remaining crews will resume racing at 7am on Friday, 12 January, in order to complete the remaining distance of Stage 5. Once the stage is complete, the crews will have to drive a liaison of 110km, at which point the cars will be loaded onto trucks to be ferried to Riyadh, while the race crews board aircraft that will also bring them to the Saudi capital.

This marks the end of the first week of a very tough Dakar Rally. The Rest Day follows on Saturday, January 13th, after which six more stages will bring the event to the coastal city of Yanbu, where the winners will be crowned on Friday, 19 January.


Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: "A stage such as today's 48 hour Chrono is always a worry. The fact that we can't service the cars in their remote bivouacs, and that we can't speak to the crews, is very frustrating from a team management point of view. With that said, we do know that all five our cars have arrived safely after racing was paused, and from what we can tell they are all ready to go racing again in the morning."


1. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz

(Team Audi Sport)


2. #207 M.Ekstrom / E. Berg

(Team Audi Sport)


3. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin

(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)


4. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


5. #302 E. Gogzal / O. Mena

(Energylandia Rally Team)


6. #200 N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel

(Nasser Racing)


7. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq

(Overdrive Racing)


8. #216 S.Quintero / D. Zenz

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


9. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka

(Orlen Jipcar Team)


10. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri

(Overdrive Racing)


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

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


16. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


N/A #216 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)

Bivouac C


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 Factory 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)