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2017-01-05 10:19

Charlen Raymond

DARK DAY FOR SA: Toyota Gazoo Racing retired Nasser Al-Attiyah's Hilux from the 2017 Dakar rally. Image: Wheels24 / Sean Parker

Argentina - Following the gutting news of Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Nasser Al-Attiyah’s suspension failure during the third stage of the 2017 Dakar rally, the team has announced that the Qatari has been forced to retire from this year’s event. 

The damage suffered by Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel’s Toyota Hilux has been too severe to fix, with the bakkie’s chassis also sustaining damage.

Sad moment for South Africa

The pair won the opening stage of the 2017 event but drop at the end of Stage 2, which was won by Peugeot driver Sebastien Loeb.

Stage 2 was one of the fastest stages in the Dakar’s history, with cars averaging 120km/h. Normally this is between 90-100km/h.

READ: Dakar 2017 - Disappointment for SA's Toyota Gazoo Racing on Stage 3

Image: Wheels24 / Sean Parker

Once Stage 3 was underway, Al-Attiyah and Stephane Peterhansel were battling it out for victory on day three. Al-Attiyah and Toyota Gazoo Racing regained the overall lead of the Dakar and built up a comfortable margin of more than three minutes ahead of his nearest competitor on the overall log.

Sadly, tragedy struck when the Toyota driver hit a ditch and damaged the suspension on his Hilux. The stage was eventually won by Peterhansel, with Al-Attiyah finishing more than two hours behind.

Peugeot has now won two stages on the trot and Toyota Gazoo Racing one. South African Giniel De Villiers and his Dutch navigator Dirk Von Zitzewitz will continue the fight for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA on Stage 4 on Thursday.

Image: Wheels24 / Sean Parker

LONG NIGHT: The Toyota Gazoo Racing team loading Al-Attiyah's retired Hilux onto the truck. Image: Sean Parker


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