As Dakar 2018 draws inexorably closer, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA cleared the final hurdles before starting the world’s toughest automotive event on January 6th. This entailed the reassembly of all three Toyota Hilux race cars, a final test session, and the technical checks required by the event’s organizer, the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO).
“We’ve been working very hard to get everything ready for the race,” says Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “But we are confident that we’ve brought the best Toyota Hilux to the race that we’ve ever built, and our local test sessions certainly proved it.”
The team completed two test sessions in the dunes to the south of the Peruvian capital, Lima, with all three drivers expressing their satisfaction with the latest version of the Toyota Hilux.
“There’s no doubt that this is the best Toyota Hilux we’ve ever fielded on Dakar,” said Giniel de Villiers after the test. “The car feels quick on all surfaces, and while we don’t know how much the opposition have improved, we’re looking forward to measuring the new car against our competitors.”
With the tests completed, all that remained for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA was to complete the administrative and technical checks. These checks have to be completed by all team members, including the technical crews, and can be quite challenging in certain respects.
“It is absolutely imperative that all our paperwork is done correctly; all the boxes are ticked; and every member of the team is cleared for participation on Dakar 2018,” says Hall. “But beyond that, we also have to clear the technical checks with our cars and equipment.”
The technical checks are not only designed to ensure that all competitors conform to the required safety standards as set out by the ASO, but also to confirm that all the cars in the race adhere to the strict rules that govern each class.
“The good news is that we completed the checks without a hitch, and we’re now officially ready to start Dakar 2018 on the 6th of January,” concluded Hall. “Tomorrow we’ll do some final preparation of the support vehicles, while the race crews take a moment to relax before starting the grueling event.”
The race gets under way on Saturday, January 6th, with a ceremonial podium in the heart of Lima. The crews will then make their way to the city of Pisco, where Stage 1 of Dakar 2018 will both start and finish.
“We expect a lot of dunes on the opening stages,” says De Villiers. “But they lie at low altitudes, which suit our naturally aspirated Toyota Hilux engines. So, we’re confident of a strong start. With that said, we also know that this is the Dakar, and anything can happen when the flag drops – so we’ll take it one day at a time, and hope for a good result.”