Toyota South Africa Motors and Toyota Gazoo Racing SA are excited to announce significant changes to its strategy for Dakar 2017 and beyond. This includes a revolutionary new race vehicle, known as the Toyota Hilux Evo; as well as the inclusion of multiple winner of the Dakar Rally, Nasser Al-Attiyah, in the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA squad.
“It is an exciting time for us,” says Toyota SA Motors’s Glenn Crompton, Vice-President, Marketing. “We firmly believe in the Dakar Rally as a means to showcase our technological advances and the legendary toughness of the Toyota Hilux. The arrival of the new vehicle is the next step on this spectacular journey, and we welcome the Toyota Hilux Evo to our stable.”
The new race vehicle sports two-wheel-drive, increased suspension travel, onboard tyre inflation and deflation and a larger air restrictor, as some of the many changes that should allow Toyota Gazoo Racing SA to compete on a more competitive footing during Dakar 2017.
In addition to the new vehicle, the team is also overjoyed at the inclusion of former Dakar winner and newly crowned FIA Cross Country World Cup Champion Nasser Al-Attiyah and his navigator Matthieu Baumel, in the team. Al-Attiyah was rated as the FIA’s top driver during 2015, and will certainly bolster the team’s chances during Dakar 2017.
“Nasser has been extremely happy behind the wheel of our Toyota Hilux, winning round after round of the FIA’s World Cup,” says Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “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 driver line-up for 2017, while De Villiers will again be partnered by long-standing German navigator, Dirk von Zitzewitz. Poulter will have Rob Howie beside him in the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux, for their fourth Dakar together.
Poulter is currently leading both the South African National Rally Championship and the Donaldson Cross-Country championship, as he is unbeaten so far in both competitions for 2016. He has attained the top step of the podium in five rounds of each championship so far, behind the wheel of both the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Yaris S2000, as well as the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux.
This is already an unparalleled milestone, which may be even more spectacular should Poulter achieve his goal of winning both the cross-country and rally championships this year. The only South African to achieve this in the past was Hannes Grobler, who won both titles in 1986. He didn’t, however, win every race of both championships.
In the international arena, the South African-built and developed Toyota Hilux has notched up five victories on the 2016 FIA Cross-Country World Cup circuit, in the hands of Al-Attiyah and Baumel. The Toyota Hilux has become a familiar sight at global cross-country events, with no fewer than 28 Toyotas completing the 2016 Dakar Rally in the car category alone.
Big change as Toyota Gazoo Racing SA announce 2017 Dakar challenger
With Dakar 2017 less than six months away, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA unveiled the all-new Toyota Hilux Evo that will compete in South America, come January 2017. The new vehicle represents a revolution for the team, as it is an entirely new concept, utilising two-wheel-drive rather than the four-wheel-drive systems of the past. Opting for two-wheel-drive allows for a set of rules with more freedom than is afforded to four-wheel-drive vehicles.
“We are very excited about this new direction,” says Toyota SA Motors’ Glenn Crompton. “At its core this is very much still a true Toyota Hilux, but at the same time we firmly believe it offers us new opportunities for Dakar 2017 and beyond.”
The new vehicle conforms to all the rules as set out by the FIA, and used by the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), organisers of the Dakar Rally. This means the vehicle sports a significantly lower overall weight of 1,300 kg as a target, versus the 1,915 kg of the 4×4 version of the Toyota Hilux. It also features larger wheels and tyres of 940 mm (in diameter) versus 805 mm for 4×4, significantly greater suspension travel and an onboard tyre inflation/deflation system.
“Essentially, this is our take on what a two-wheel-drive Dakar challenger should be,” says Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “We’ve taken all the testing and real-world experience we gained with the four-wheel-drive Toyota Hilux over the past five years, and repackaged it in the lighter, faster Toyota Hilux Evo.”
Under its skin, the Toyota Hilux Evo features an innovative layout that sees all essential components – the engine and transmission – housed between the two axles. This gives the vehicle an advantage over its competitors in terms of weight distribution, and with all the heaviest components placed near the bottom of the vehicle, the centre of gravity is lower than ever before. More freedom in the regulations allowed the engineers to explore new ideas and avenues.
“The important thing for us was to retain as much as possible from the previous vehicle in terms of suspension setup and engine tech,” continues Hall. “With this in mind we’ve stayed with the same proven, state-of-the-art V8 engine, and used all our knowledge when designing and setting up the suspension.”
For the 2017 edition of the Dakar the ASO have announced the average altitude for the race is above 2000 metres. This means that the normally aspirated V8 will enjoy a 38 mm restrictor for the first time, allowing the modern Toyota engine to breathe more efficiently. It will also be the first time that Toyota, MINI and Peugeot will be using the same size restrictor, as previous years saw our competitors sport either a 1 mm or 2mm advantage.
”This is good news indeed,” concludes Crompton. “The new car, along with the bigger restrictor, will place us in a strong position, giving our drivers a platform to work from when starting the race in January.”
The new vehicle will now undergo rigorous testing and refinement, before being shipped off to South America at the end of the year, in time to take on the world’s most grueling motor sports event – the Dakar Rally.
Excitement as top driver joins Toyota Gazoo racing SA for Dakar 2017
Toyota Gazoo Racing SA is pleased to announce the team that will be competing at Dakar 2017, which starts in the Paraguayan capital of Ascension on January 2nd, 2017. The team will campaign three factory-prepared Toyota Hilux race vehicles, and now includes two former winners of the world’s most grueling automotive event.
Joining the team for 2017 is double former Dakar winner, and top-ranked World Champion driver, Nasser Al-Attiyah. Qatari Al-Attiyah, who last won the event with MINI in 2015, will be partnered by long-standing navigator Matthieu Baumel (France).
“We are very excited about Nasser and Matthieu joining our team,” says Toyota SA Motors’ Glenn Crompton, Vice-President, Marketing. “The pair have proven themselves over the last number of years, winning not only Dakar, but also every round of the FIA’s Cross-Country World Cup they competed in. They also won that championship in 2015, and have notched up five consecutive victories on this year’s championship behind the wheel of one of our Toyota Hilux race vehicles – sealing the 2016 championship in the process.”
Toyota stalwart Giniel de Villiers, who won the event in 2009, will again be partnered by German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz. The pair have campaigned the locally built and developed Toyota Hilux in the race since 2012, achieving a third place (2012), second place (2013), fourth place (2014), second again in 2015 and third again in 2016.
“Both Giniel and Dirk are fired up to win again. They’ve got an impeccable record on the Dakar, but both are hungry to stand on the top step of the podium again,” says Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall.
Leeroy Poulter and navigator Rob Howie will also continue with Toyota Gazoo Racing SA in Dakar 2017. The pair will race in their fourth Dakar together next year, and have arguably spent more time in the Toyota Hilux than either of their teammates. As defending South African Cross-Country Champions, Poulter/Howie have proven their pace in the local championship, as they also did during Dakar 2016.
“Leeroy proved that he was fast enough to win stages on the last race, and both him and Rob are determined to make their mark in 2017,” says Hall. “They have to keep building on their experience, and if they can win a stage or two on the coming race, they may just find themselves in a position to challenge for the podium.”
Hall is positive that Al-Attiyah’s influence will benefit the entire team: “Not only is Nasser a very popular driver with a truly massive global following, but he is also exceptionally fast. This will inspire both Giniel and Leeroy to raise their games, and especially Leeroy will be keen to gauge his performance against Nasser’s.”
With the new race regulations, that allow for a slightly larger 38 mm restrictor in the Toyota Hilux, as well as the addition of Al-Attiyah/Baumel to the team, Hall has every reason to be upbeat about Dakar 2017.
“Winning the Dakar isn’t easy,” concluded Hall, “there are a lot of people trying really hard. But winning Dakar requires more than just fast drivers, good navigators and a highly reliable car. We know we’ve got all of those elements, but you also need lady luck to smile over you. Who knows, maybe 2017 is our year?”