Saood/Francois fastest for TGR on Dakar 2024 Stage 10

Dakar 2024 may be heading towards its conclusion, but the race seems to be far from over.

Stage 10 of the twelve-stage race proved a tough one for many of the top crews, including TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's leading pairings. Even so, the team managed to retain its overall positions, and is well-placed for the final two stages, which will take the rally to the finish in the coastal Saudi Arabian town of Yanbu on Friday, January 19th.

The fastest TGR crew in the tenth stage, which started and finished at the bivouac near the tourist town of Alula, was rookie driver Saood Variawa, and his French co-driver, Francois Cazalet. The pair had been steadily improving their pace over the course of the event thus far, and their tenacity paid off when they set the 11th-fastest time on the 371km-long special stage. While they relinquished 13min 1sec to the leaders on the stage, they remain in 22nd place overall, with just two stages to go in Saood's first ever Dakar Rally.

Saood and Francois were followed home by Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon, who set the 12th-best time on Stage 10. The Brazilian driver and his Spanish co-driver were just 1min 31sec slower than their teammates, but were left wondering what might have been, were it not for two punctures that forced them to slow their pace significantly. They also survived a scare when their car ground to a halt with a fuel pressure warning, but a quick reset of the system was all that was needed to get the GR IMT Hilux EVO back on its way. The pair remain in third place overall, with a comfortable buffer of 25min to the car behind them. What's more is that their finishing position on Stage 10 puts them behind the car in fourth place on Stage 11, which is an ideal position from which to monitor and control their pace.

Stage 10 brought disappointment for TGR's Guy Botterill and co-driver, Brett Cummings. The pair were the pick of the TGR crews on the previous stage, but a navigational error early on Stage 10 cost them dearly. The pair lost nearly 20min to the leaders, and recorded only the 19th-fastest time on the day. Despite this setback, they are still in 9th place overall, just 7min behind teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy.

Giniel and Dennis were forced to slow down after two mid-stage punctures. The TGR crew were running an experimental setup on their rear dampers, but this made the GR IMT Hilux EVO all but undrivable. They may have suffered the punctures as a result of the car's errant handling, and the best they could muster on the day was the 27th-fastest time, 26min 56sec behind the stage winners. They remain in 8th place overall, with two stages to go.

TGR's Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz made their intentions of winning stages after dropping out of contention early in the race clear. However, this ambition was dealt another blow on Stage 10, after a particularly hard landing following a steep drop-off that was not marked in the road book. The pair managed to retain control over their car, but both rear dampers were irreparably damaged in the landing, and they were forced to wait for assistance from the team's technical truck. This dropped them out of contention on the stage, but they will re-enter the race for Stage 11, with the hope of securing valuable World Rally-Raid Championship points.

After their mishap, the pair had the presence of mind to warn the crews behind them of the danger, and most likely saved a number of crews from a similar fate. While the team is disappointed with their result on the day, one can applaud their camaraderie, which is clearly in the spirit of the Dakar Rally.

Stage 10 was won by Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winoq, driving a privately-entered version of the Toyota Hilux EVO, with Eugenio Amos and Paolo Ceci achieving 4th place on the stage in a similar machine. Romain Dumas and Max Delfino brought their Toyota Hilux hom in 5th on Stage 10, while Juan Yacopini and Daniel Carreras were 7th. The final Toyota Hilux in the Stage 10 Top 10 was that of Guillaume de Mevius and Xavier Panseri.

Stage 11 follows next, and will take the crews from the bivouac at Alula to the coastal city of Yanbu via a stage totalling 529km. This includes a starting liaison of 6km, as well as a closing liaison of 103km. The terrain for Stage 11 is expected to consist mainly of dirt and stony tracks, which may cause more punctures for the crews. This is the penultimate stage of the rally, and the final long stage of the event, which will come to an end in Yabu on Friday.


Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: "One thing that you can be sure of on the Dakar Rally, is that you can never be sure of anything! Today proved that once again, when our crews dealt with a variety of challenges during the stage. We are proud of what our crews have achieved thus far in the race, and with only two stages remaining, we are hopeful for a good result. Our latest GR IMT Hilux EVO has proven to be equal to the task of taking on the Dakar Rally, and we are looking forward to the final two days of the rally."

Saood Variawa: "We had a puncture about 10 kilometres in, and we had to change that. Chicheret got past us, and then we were with him for a long time. Then he had a puncture and we overtook him again, and we were driving together up until 60 or 80 kilometres in. Eventually, he started to pull away from us and unfortunately, my shoulder got really sore. I was in a lot of pain, so I backed the pace off a lot. I'm feeling a little bit better, but my shoulder is killing me at the moment."

Guy Botterill: "Avery tricky stage again today. We didn't start off so good, we got lost right in the beginning and it took us some time to find the road. Then we sat in the dust for 450km, so very tricky, lots of rocks, very easy to make a mistake. But I think our pace was good, so I know our overall result won't show the speed that we were going, but we were with the Audis all the time. Lucas was in front of us and then we overtook him when he got a puncture. Unfortunately, we lost an epic amount of time right in the beginning."

Lucas Moraes: "For us, the stage was nerve-wracking. We got two punctures and to be honest, I don't know where because we were driving the same way that we have been driving the whole rally. Then, 10kms to the end, the car just stopped. We reset the car and went off again! But hey, we are here, we're good and still third overall, so let's keep fighting. We probably lost eight minutes, despite all the things that happened, so we were probably going to be right there in the top five again.  But to be honest, we are in a great position for the for the next stage, because we are right behind the crew in fourth place overall, so we can keep an eye on them over the whole stage."

Giniel de Villiers: "Yes, it was a tough stage. Made it a bit tougher for ourselves, as we tried something different in the rear dampers. But it made the car almost undriveable, and I think it's because of that that I had two punctures after 30km in the rear. Then we had no more tyres, so it was like driving like a grandma to the finish. There was nothing else we could do..."

Seth Quintero: "Everything was good and we were on the right line, but then there was an unmarked danger that it seems like everybody hit. But, I think the leaders got to throw a couple more rocks, so by the time we got there, the rock caught us. The drop wasn't too bad, but the way that we caught the rocks that were down there was kind of the end for us. We broke two dampers even though it really wasn't too hard of an impact. All the force had to go somewhere, and it went to the dampers... We sat there for an hour or two, making sure nobody else made the same mistake. So, definitely not the day we wanted."


1. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq

(Overdrive Racing)

03h 19min 27 sec

2. #219 B. Baragwanath / L. Cremer

(Century Racing Factory Team)


3. #233 B. Vanagas / K. Sikk

(Toyota GAZOO Racing Baltics)


4. #227 E. Amos / P. Ceci 

(Overdrive Racing)


5. #231 R. Dumas / M. Delfino

(Rebillion Racing)


6. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier 

(Century Racing Factory Team) 


7. #205 J. Yacopini / D. Oliveras Carreras

(Overdrive Racing)


8. #245 C. Baumgart / A. Andreotti



9. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka

(Orlen Jipocar Team)


10. #221    G. de Mevius / X. Panseri

(Overdrive Racing)


11. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


12. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


19. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


27. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


136. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)



1. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz

(Team Audi Sport)

41h 35min 12sec

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. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq

(Overdrive Racing)


6. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier

(Century Racing Factory Team)


7. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka

(Orlen Jipocar 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)


11. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


12. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)