- Dakar racers go rear-wheel drive
- ‘It’s an exciting time’ – Glyn Hall
- Higher ride, on-board tyre inflators
KYALAMI, Gauteng – Toyota SA and Toyota Gazoo Racing SA are making major changes to their strategy for Dakar 2017 and beyond, including a new race bakkie and a new driving team.
The vehicle: the Toyota Hilux Evo (image above), the new driver multiple Dakar winner Nasser al-Attiyah and his navigator Matthieu Baumel, formerly driving for Mini. He rolled out of contention in the 2015 event but was still rated was rated as the FIA’s top driver during 2015.
Toyota SA’s markieting boss Glenn Crompton told The Corner in a media release: “It’s an exciting time. We believe in the Dakar Rally as a showcase for our technological advances and the toughness of the Toyota Hilux.
“The arrival of the new vehicle is the next step on this journey – we welcome the Hilux Evo to our stable.” (Read the Carman’s Corner special feature on Toyota and the 2015 Dakar.)
The new racing Hilux rides higher but has only rear-wheel drive. That’s weighed against on-board tyre inflation/deflation and a larger air-intake restrictor – just some of the many changes that, Toyota believes, will put the Gazoo team on a more competitive footing fro 2017.
Gazoo Racing SA team boss Glyn Hall told The Corner: “Nasser has been extremely happy behind the wheel of our Toyota Hilux, winning round after round of the International Automobile Federation’s World Cup.
“We’re looking forward to his input in the development of the new vehicle and even more to him donning the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA colours for Dakar 2017.”
Al-Attiyah will join Giniel de Villiers and Leeroy Poulter in the drivers’ line-up for 2017, De Villiers again partnered by his long-time navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz. Poulter will have Rob Howie with him for their fourth Dakar.
Poulter is leading both the SA National Rally and the Donaldson Cross-Country 2016 championships, unbeaten so far in either’s five round in which he drove, repectively, a Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Yaris S2000 and a Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux.
This is already an unmatched achievement which could become even more spectacular should Poulter win both championships this year. The only South African to do so was, in 1986, the awesome Hannes Grobler.
He didn’t, however, win every race of both championships, while driving first for Datsun and then for Nissan when the latter absorbed the Datsun brand.
Internationally, the South African-built (in Prospecton, Durban) and developed Hilux has notched up five victories on the 2016 FIA Cross-Country World Cup circuit in the hands of al-Attiyah and Baumel.
“The racing bakkie,” Toyota says, “has become a familiar sight at global cross-country events. There were 28 Toyotas the 2016 Dakar Rally in the car category alone.”