Mixed results for Toyota Gazoo Racing on Dakar Stage 9

The 9th stage of the 2024 Dakar Rally brought mixed results for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, as their five GR IMT Hilux EVO race cars completed the 661km-long stage between Ha’il and Alula.

The stage included an opening liaison of 76km, as well as a closing liaison of 149km, and was run over mixed terrain that included sand, dunes and rocky traverses. The fastest TGR crew on the day was rookie driver Guy Botterill, together with his experienced co-driver, Brett Cummings.

The pair recorded the 5th-fastest time on the stage, relinquishing only 10min 1sec to the stage winners, after a clean run through the tough stage. The man from Durban remains in 9th place in the overall rankings, 2hr 29min 51sec behind the leading crew. With three stages remaining in the 2024 Dakar Rally, Guy and Brett will be aiming to remain in the Top 10, which would be a remarkable achievement for the rookie driver.

Next-fastest for TGR was Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon, who started the stage with the aim of cementing their third place in the overall rankings. While they managed to retain this position, they lost 11min 3sec to the stage winners, despite running near the front of the pack from most of the stage.

Tricky navigation put paid to their hopes of a better stage result, but they will be happy to remain in third place overall. Their deficit to the lead is now 1hr 12min 2sec, and they have a buffer of nearly 30min to the car behind them.

Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy started Stage 9 in fine form, all but matching the pace of the crews at the head of the field. A missed waypoint mid-way through the stage, however, cost them dearly. This was followed by another challenging waypoint further into the stage, where they lost more time. Their time loss on the stage was 19min 14sec, but the 15min penalty for the missed waypoint was added later, dropping them further down the order. They were running in 5th place in the overall ranking after eight stages, but have slipped back to 8th place following their troubles on Stage 9.

The team’s second rookie driver, Saood Variawa, who is partnered with French co-driver Francois Cazalet, recorded a solid performance in Stage 8 of the race, and followed up with another good performance in Stage 9. Were it not for an errant water pressure sensor in their car, they may well have finished higher up the order. They elected to stop to check on the sensor, however, losing time in the process. In the end, they relinquished 19min 50sec to the leaders, and now find themselves in 20th place overall.

The final TGR pairing of Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz are out of contention for the Dakar Rally, following a mishap earlier in the race. However, they are still pushing for good stage results, in order to score points towards the 2024 World Rally-Raid Championship, of which the Dakar Rally is the opening round. Stage 9, however, brought a disappointing result, following navigational difficulties together with mechanical niggles that slowed their progress. They lost 20min 21sec on the stage, posting the 17th-fastest time on the day.

Three stages remain in this year’s Dakar Rally. Next up is Stage 10, which starts and ends at the bivouac in Alula. At 371km the stage promises to be another stern test over mixed terrain. The penultimate stage will take the rally to the coast city of Yanbu, where the final stage will also take place on Friday 19 January.


Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: “Today’s stage was a tough one for most of our team, as navigation seemed to play a big role in the outcome. Even so, I am pleased that all five our GR IMT Hilux T1Us remain in the race, with just three stages to go. Dakar 2024 has proven to be one of the toughest editions in recent memory, and we are encouraged by the toughness and reliability of our cars. The next three stages are a critical part of the event, and while our positions in the overall standings are secure, the race isn’t over until the final stage is complete.”

Guy Botterill: “Yes, we had a good run. Brett was fantastic on the notes. We were driving on these flat rocks and you can’t see any tracks. So, it’s very, very tough to see the road. But we pushed a bit harder today. I think we did a fantastic job and our pace was really good. The car ran fantastic, and we are really happy.”

Lucas Moraes: “Yeah, almost a great stage, to be honest. I think we were second on the splits and just two, three minutes behind Loeb. But then we got badly lost. I believe we lost around eight minutes trying to find a way. It was a tricky, tricky job today, but hey, we’re still third overall, we can’t complain. The car is one piece and we’ll keep going.”

Giniel de Villiers: “It was actually quite a beautiful stage. It all went well for us until about 260km in, then we missed the waypoint. We triggered the next one before we could turn around, so you can’t go back and get it. So, obviously got a penalty for that. And then we had a puncture, and the next waypoint was also tricky. We lost another 10-15 minutes there trying to find that waypoint, so not a good stage at all.”

Saood Variawa: “It was actually a really nice stage. I enjoyed the whole stage even though there were a few tricky parts. We got through it and our pace was actually quite good. We stopped around the 230km mark, because we had a water pressure warning. So, we stopped and checked everything, but I think it’s just a sensor. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of time there but we’re at the end another safe day, so we’re looking forward to the next few days.”

Seth Quintero: “I started off really well, had a lot of fun cruising with all the guys. And then, I don’t know, right off the start we kind of felt something that was wrong with the car. It got progressively worse, so we have some things to figure out back in the bivouac. But I’m sure team will get it all dialled in, and we’ll be back to fight another day.”


1. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin

(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)

04h 17min 33sec

2. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz

(Team Audi Sport)


3. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier 

(Century Racing Factory Team)


4. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri

(Overdrive Racing) 


5. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


6. #202 S. Peterhansel / E. Boulanger 

(Team Audi Sport)


7. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


8. #207 M. Ekstrom / E. Berg

(Team Audi Sport)


9. #231 R. Dumas / M. Delfino

(Rebillion Racing)


10. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka

(Orlen Jipcar Team)


13. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


15. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


23. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)



1. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz

(Team Audi Sport)

37h 50min 57sec

2. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin

(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)


3. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


4. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri

(Overdrive Racing)


5. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier 

(Century Racing Factory Team)


6. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq

(Overdrive Racing) 


7. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka

(Orlen Jipcar Team)


8. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


9. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


10. #223 B. Vanagas / K. Sikk 

(Toyota GAZOO Racing Baltics)


20. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


38. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)