Toyota’s Stage 9 performance was its best of the 2022 Dakar Rally, as Giniel de Villiers led a 1-2-3 finish for the Japanese manufacturer, ahead of Henk Lategan and overall leader Nasser Al Attiyah.
The three Toyotas battled for victory in the 287km long race in Wadi Ad Dawasir after the Audis of Mattias Ekstrom and Stephane Peterhansel were obliged to open the road after their 1-2 finish on Monday.
Early in the stage, lategan had the lead in his Hilux T1 + car, but was unable to pull away from teammates de Villiers and Al Attiyah, as Peterhansel and Prodrive’s Sebastien Loeb also provided a tough fight to the Toyotas.
De Villiers took the lead at the third waypoint on 118 kilometers and held on for a nine-second victory against fellow South African Lategan making his first stage win of Dakar 2022.
After losing time on Monday due to a broken rear differential, Al-Attiyah finished third, slightly over a minute behind his teammates, bolstering his drive for a fourth Dakar victory. Mattias Ekstrom finished fourth, just 2m07s behind the Toyotas, with Loeb a further four seconds down in fifth after running as high as second early in the day.
For the remaining Audi duo, Sainz and Peterhansel finished sixth and eighth respectively, neither losing more than 4 minutes to de Villiers, while 2014 champion Nani Roma returned from a difficult run of results to finish 10th. Al-Attiyah now leads Loeb by 39m05s going into the final three stages of the rally, with Overdrive Toyota’s Yazeed Al Rajhi nearly an hour behind.
Prodrive’s Orlando Terranova is currently fourth overall, while de Villiers has jumped X-raid Mini’s Jakub Przygosnki to fifth place following his Stage 9 victory. Audi is yet to break into the top 10 with its top contender Ekstrom currently placed 11th and 10 minutes behind Century’s Matthieu Serradori.
Overall standings after Stage 9:
|3||Yazeed Al Rajhi||TOYOTA||31:08:48||+00:58:44||00:00:35|
|5||Giniel de Villiers||TOYOTA||31:55:05||+01:45:01||00:05:00|