The latest generation of the Toyota Hilux will compete in the 2018 Dakar Rally in South America next month. It is the first time that this new generation is entered for what is acknowledged as the world’s toughest off-road race.
Three Hilux pick-ups have been prepared by Toyota GAZOO Racing South Africa. The 4×4 vehicles are lighter than the ones which were used in the 2017 event. They have new independent rear suspension geometry which gives 12% more travel.
The unturbocharged V8 engine is mid-mounted, sitting just behind the front wheels, in between and slightly below the crew. It breathes through a larger FIA-approved 38-mm restrictor, as per new regulations for the 2018 event.
Team principal Glyn Hall said the combination of increased power, reduced weight and greater suspension travel will suit the soft sand sections of the rally’s opening stages in Peru. “We decided to radically alter the layout and geometry of the car, incorporating everything we’ve learned over the past 5 years,” he revealed.
“You can never be over confident in a race as tough as the Dakar, but at the same time we feel we’re onto a winning recipe here,” he added.
The crews for the entries include Giniel de Villiers and Nasser Al Attiyah, the former having won the Dakar Rally in 2009 (with co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz). He also collected 4 podium finishes in the event for Toyota over the years. De Villiers and Toyota are unbeaten in the South African Cross-Country Championship since 2015.
Al Attityah and Mathieu Baumel have won 3 FIA Cross-Country World Cup Championships in a Hilux. The third Hilux crew is Bernard ten Brinke and Michel Peron, giving Toyota GAZOO Racing SA a cosmopolitan team of a South African, German, Qatari, Dutchman and two Frenchmen.
The team has logged more than 3000 kms of testing in South Africa – equivalent to 60% of the competitive driving in the 2018 event. After completing the bulk of the development driving, de Villiers said the car ‘feels extremely fast and well balanced, and I’m looking forward to taking it on Dakar 2018’.
Toyota first officially entered the Dakar Rally in 2012, taking second place on debut. January’s Dakar Rally marks the tenth edition of the event since it moved to South America in 2009. The move was due to serious concerns about security and safety in Mauritania which was on the route that went along the western side of Africa.
The 2018 rally will be from January 6 to 20, beginning in Lima, Peru, travelling through Bolivia and finishing in Cordoba, Argentina. There will be 14 stages and 5,000 kms of competitive driving, with 4,000 kms of transport (non-competitive) stages.