Dakar Rally leader Nasser Al-Attiyah has been hit with a suspended disqualification from the event and his Toyota team a €5000 [$5649] fine for a breach of the sporting regulations.
Al-Attiyah’s Toyota Hilux T1+ was found to have its data logger not connected to the power supply following the completion of Monday’s second stage, something the team’s representative Jean-Marc Fontin said was a ‘simple mistake’ to the stewards.
Toyota was found to have breached Article 13.1.2 of the FIA Cross-Country Rally Sporting Regulations and was handed the resulting penalty accordingly.
The team has its right to appeal the decision, within the applicable time limits.
The stewards’ decision said that, in addition to the €5000 fine that is payable within 48 hours, Al-Attiyah faced “disqualification from Rally Dakar 2022, which is suspended until the end of the rally subject to no further breach of similar nature committed by the competitor with the car #201 during this period”.
Toyota said that data loggers are disconnected after every stage from the battery overnight for safety reasons and that it had made a simple error not reconnecting it for the second stage. Al-Attiyah’s car had already left the bivouac when the team was informed by the stewards that the data logger had not been connected.
The sporting regulations state that it is the responsibility of the competitors to ensure the data logger is connected to the power supply before each stage and that a breach of this regulation would result in a fine and disqualification as per ‘jurisprudence in the past’.
According to the stewards, exceptional circumstances prevent a straight disqualification, in that the rally is only in its early stages and the team has time to rectify the breach.
Suspended disqualification is a common practice on the Dakar Rally, with Chinese driver Wei Han penalized 10 hours and handed a suspended disqualification for his car being 40kg underweight.
T3 Lightweight Prototype crew Geoffrey Moreau and Pascal Chassant received a €500 [$565] fine and a suspended ban for the next round of the FIA Rally Raid Championship season for presenting their car at scrutineering with modified gussets, one of several crews to do so.
Al-Attiyah maintains his nine-minute lead of the Dakar and will likely increase his margin over Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Sébastien Loeb later on Tuesday after the Prodrive driver punctured early on the Al Qaisumah loop stage.