Toyota GAZOO Racing South Africa has prepared three Toyota Hilux pick-ups for the 40th running of the Dakar Rally 2018, dubbed as the world’s toughest rally.
The team continues their partnership with driver-navigator pairing of Giniel de Villiers from South Africa and Dirk von Zitzewitz from Germany in Hilux number 304. The pair last won the world’s most gruelling automotive race in 2009, but have gone on to attain four podium finishes for Toyota.
The second Toyota Hilux number 301 will have driver-navigator pairing of Qatari cross country racing multiple winner Nasser Al Attiyah and French navigator Mathieu Baumel.
Toyota GAZOO Racing South Africa’s third Toyota Hilux entry, bearing number 309, will be Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke and French navigator Michel Périn. Ten Brinke competed in Dakar 2016 in a privately entered Toyota Hilux. 2018 will be his first outing as a full works driver.
The specially prepared Toyota Hilux Dakar 2018's biggest change compared to the 2017 machine is the mounting position of the naturally aspirated V8 engine. It is now mid-mounted, sitting just behind the front wheels, in between and slightly below the crew. New 2018 regulations also relaxes the air restrictor size, to a larger 38mm dimension.
The V8 engine with increased in performance now deliver power to all four wheels, as opposed to the 2017 machine which was designed to only propel the rear axle. A newly designed independent rear suspension enables the geometry to have 12% more travel. Weight reduction strategies were also incorporated into the 2018 machine.
The combination of increased power, longer suspension travel and reduced weight will suit the soft sand sections of the rally’s opening stages in Peru. Team principal Glyn Hall added “We decided to radically alter the layout and geometry of the car, incorporating everything we have learned over the past five years.” The team has logged more than 3,000 kilometres of testing in South Africa, equivalent to 60% of the competitive driving in the 2018 rally.
Dakar 2009 winner De Villiers, did the bulk of the Toyota Hilux development driving, says the car “feels extremely fast and well balanced, and I am looking forward to taking it on Dakar 2018.”
Dakar 2018 will take place from 6th to 20th January 2018, encompassing 14 stages, across 3 countries (starting in Peru, travelling through Bolivia and finishing in Argentina), with a total driving distance of almost 9,000 kilometres.