Toyota South Africa Motors and Toyota Gazoo Racing SA yesterday unveiled the vehicle which they will be using in the upcoming Dakar 2017 Rally - the Toyota Hilux Evo.
Developed specifically for the competition, the Hilux Evo adopts two-wheel drive rather than four-wheel drive, which according to Toyota, has been able to bring a number of key benefits such as greater freedom within the FIA regulations, lighter kerb weight, and the ability to mount the powertrain between the axles.
Weighing 615kg less than a standard Hilux, the Evo, which conforms to all FIA regulations, comes with larger wheels (940mm diameter versus 805mm), offers a broader range of suspension travel, and has an on-board tyre inflation/deflation monitoring system fitted.
Powering the Hilux Evo is a naturally aspirated V8 engine with a wider 38mm air restrictor, now the same diameter as a number of key competitors that benefited from a 1-2mm advantage last year.
According to the team, the engine and transmission are relocated between the axles to centralise the weight distribution. Meanwhile, the heavier components are said to be mounted near the bottom to lower the centre of gravity.
With three units of the Hilux Evo set to rock the Dakar 2017, one of the trucks will be piloted by former Dakar winner and newly crowned FIA Cross Country World Cup Champion Nasser Al-Attiyah and his navigator Matthieu Baumel. Al-Attiyah will join Giniel de Villiers and Leeroy Poulter.
While De Villiers will 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.
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