Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al-Attiyah placed second on Stage 8 of Dakar 2019 to cement his place at the head of the overall standings, with just two stages to go.

On the day, the Qatari driver came in second behind Peugeot’s Sebastien Loeb, while Mini driver Stephane Peterhansel lost 24 minutes to fall to eighth on the day and third overall. This allowed Al-Attiyah to extend his lead at the top of the table to 46:29 minutes over Mini’s Nani Roma.

“We are really happy with our performance today,” said Al-Attiyah. “It was tough out there, but the car was absolutely perfect, and we didn’t make any serious mistakes. The team did an amazing job to prepare the car for us, and we hope to repay them by bringing home the big trophy.”

Third on the stage was Mini’s Jakub Przygonski, while Giniel de Villiers posted the fourth-fastest time to move back into the top 10 overall.

“We had a really good, clean stage today,” said De Villiers. “As always on the Dakar there were some small issues, but overall, we are really pleased with today’s performance. I must say that I think today was the toughest stage so far on Dakar 2019, even after yesterday’s monster stage. But our performance today puts us in an ideal road position to support Nasser to the finish – though we really hope he doesn’t need us.”

Teammate Bernhard ten Brinke, however, suffered what Toyota describes as a “terminal gearbox failure” on Stage 8, ultimately ending his and French navigator Xavier Panseri’s race.

“The second part of the stage saw them maintaining position through most of the stage, but then things went wrong after the final waypoint of the day,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team principal, Glyn Hall. “The pair ran into difficulties in the deep dunes near the end of the stage. They suffered transmission failure, and the T4 support truck was unable to fix the problem out on the stage.”

“Nasser and Mathieu are in an ideal position for tomorrow, having finished second on Stage 8,” said Hall. “So, they won’t have to open the road. In the end, all they have to do at this point is to protect their lead, and barring something entirely disastrous, we have every expectation that they’ll remain in the lead of the Dakar tomorrow.”

Just one more stage remains after Stage 9, and will see the Dakar return to the Lima via a 112 km-long special stage.

Stage 8 results:

1. Loeb
2. Al-Attiyah (Toyota):+07:27
3. Przygonski (Mini): +15:15
4. De Villiers (Toyota): +15:55
5. Roma (Mini): +15:57
6. Al Rajhi (Mini): +22:51
7. Prokop (Ford): +28:36
8. Peterhansel (Mini): +31:41
9. Lachaume (Peugeot): +36:22
10. Chabot (Toyota): +41:16

Overall standings:

1. Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
2. Roma (Mini): +46:29
3. Loeb (Peugeot): +46:45
4. Peterhansel (Mini): +53:30
5. Despres (Mini): +02:15:27
6. Przygonski (Mini): +02:19:50
7. Prokop (Ford): +02:56:07
8. Al Rajhi (Mini): +03:54:57
9. Sainz (Mini): +06:42:15
10. De Villiers (Toyota): +07:01:01