• 3rd on stage for Al-Attiyah/Baumel
  • 8th on stage for De Villiers/Haro
  • 16th on stage for Variawa/Murphy
  • Al-Attiyah/Baumel retain 2nd overall
  • De Villiers/Haro into Top 10 overall
HA’IL, SAUDI ARABIA – Stage 6 of Dakar 2021 was a shortened route that saw the rally reach its mid-point at the city of Ha’il. The 347km timed section was another tough one, including large dune fields and rocky tracks, which made navigation difficult and punctures plentiful. Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro opened the road, but lost 22min 20sec due to continued pain in De Villiers’ neck, as well as two punctures. Even so, he is back in the Top 10 at the halfway mark, trailing rally leader Stephane Peterhansel (Mini) by 2hr 12min 12sec.

Stage 6 also saw Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel consolidate their 2nd position in the overall standings by recording the 3rd-fastest time on the day, just 7min 16sec behind stage winner Carlos Sainz (Mini). At the same time, they pipped Peterhansel to the finish by 18sec, which means that the Toyota Hilux crew is now 5min 53sec behind in the overall classification, despite suffering two punctures in the stage to Ha’il.

Shameer Variawa and Dennis Murphy had one puncture during Stage 6, but still brought their Toyota Hilux home in 16th place on the day, 35min 35sec behind the stage winners. They are now in 32nd overall, trailing by 6hr 28min 33sec.

“Today was a day of consolidation for the team, as we reached the mid-point of the race,” said TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Team Principal, Glyn Hall, from the bivouac at Ha’il. “We’re pleased to have Nasser and Mathieu in the thick of the fight, and Giniel and Alex back in the Top 10. Shameer and Dennis also recorded a good stage, and will have a good starting position for the Marathon Stage on Sunday.”

The so-called rest day of the Dakar offers some respite to the race crews, but is a day of mad activity for the technical crews who will strip the race cars down to bare bones and check every component before repairing, replacing, and reassembling the cars in preparation for the final week of the rally.

“Stage 7 is the Marathon Stage, which means the crews will race away from the bivouac at Ha’il to an isolated bivouac at Sakaka, where there will be no technical assistance. Any work that needs to be done on the cars, need to be done by the race crews themselves, using only tools and spares carried aboard the cars,” explained Hall.

The Marathon Stage marks the beginning of the final week of the race, as the rally heads first to Sakaka and then on to Neom for a looped stage, before finally turning back towards the city of Jeddah via the town of Al Ula. The race will draw to a close with Stage 12, which takes place on January 15th.