If this isn't a testament to Toyota's commitment to motorsports, we don't know what is. There's no other company that is actively entering and competing in so many different race series around the world, except perhaps Red Bull - but they're not exactly a car manufacturer. The latest notch in Toyota Gazoo Racing's belt is the Dakar Rally, in which they took a class win with their Hilux.
Over 10 days and 4,800 kilometres of gruelling desert and mountains, their modified Hilux managed to push through to take that win. Now, this Hilux is a far cry from what we're used to seeing on our roads, what with a mid-mounted V8 engine and far more specialized equipment and systems to deal with these harsh environments. There were two Hiluxes fielded in the rally, with the team of Nasser Al Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel taking the top spot.
There was further success for Toyota in the event with the Team Land Cruiser Auto Body (TLC) winning the Dakar Production Division category for the sixth consecutive year and Hino Team Sugawara claiming an exceptional 10th win in a row in the Truck category (10-litre engine or smaller) with the Hino Ranger. While these vehicles are in varying levels of distance from their road-going versions, the engineering behind them is top notch and eventually transfers back into the cars you can buy in a showroom.
Because that's what motorsports is after all, isn't it? It's not merely the thrill of going fast or the pursuit of glory, but the accelerated development of vehicles by putting them through some of the most difficult conditions you can subject a vehicle to. The constant stress and the harsh terrain is no better gauntlet for an off-road vehicle to run, just as the 24 Hours of Nurburgring is the best litmus test for a performance car.
This was the 41st running of the Dakar Rally, and while it is no longer held between Paris and Dakar, it still remains an important motorsport event on the calendars of various professionals. It's not the same kind of challenge as, say, our Borneo Safari, but it requires the same level of skill when navigating and negotiating your way across South America, entirely off the beaten path.