|Dakar Rally 2014: Toyota Auto Body T2-team to start with eco-biodiesel.|
Since years we always can see a nice battle in the T2-production class - between the Spanish Toyota Land Cruiser of Xavier Foj and the Japanese "Toyota Auto Body" (TLC) factory Land Cruiser, in 2014 with former T2-Dakar winner Jun Mitsuhashi from Japan (born in 1970) and also former T2-winner Nicolas Gibon from France (1981).
Officially TLC is a Japanese team, but since years the crew is a mix of Japanese and Europeans. In the cars, Mitsuhashi will be navigated by French Alain Guehennec - whilst Nicolas Gibon´s navigator will be Akira Miura from Japan. In the mechanics, seven members are from Europe, four from Japan.
Like in 2013, the team will start with two Toyota Land Cruiser VDJ 200, fitted with 4.5 liter twinturbo-diesel engines with 245 hp. With nearly 5 meters the cars are not only long, they are also heavy-duty. As a special feature both cars will run on biodiesel made from used cooking oil, emitting 60 percent less carbon dioxide than regular diesel.
“I want to compete in a Japanese car and with Japanese technology,” driver Jun Mitsuhashi said Wednesday at the official team presentation in Japan. Mitsuhashi has long-standing experience in rallyraid. He started his career on two wheels in the 1999 "UAE Desert Challenge" and participated three times with a bike in the Dakar Rally (2001-2003).
In 2003 he switched in the cars category and became first in the French amateur-rally "AMV Shamrock". From this year he stayed on four wheels and started in all Dakar rallies: 2004 he retired, 2005 11th, 2006 retired, 2007 24th.
"My first Dakar was a real challenge on a bike. All was big, it was so impressive for a rider coming from a small island in Asia. It was the last real ´Paris-Dakar Rally´. When I found myself under the rain in Paris, I realized that my challenge had just begun," Mitsuhashi remembered his first Dakar.
Since the Dakar is on South American soil in 2009, he has improved his position: In 2010 and 2011 he clinched the T2 production-class title and in 2012 he became 2nd behind Xavier Foy from Spain. In 2013 Mitsuhashi he had to retire - and the winner was again Xavier Foy.
Also Nicolas Gibon is a big talent. He started his Dakar-career in 2002 on the wheels of a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and switched to the T1-prototype class with a Bowler Wildcat in 2007 - in this year he reached the 18th position from 180 cars and won the amateur class.
Since 2009 he is involved in the T2 Toyota Auto Body team and directly won the T2-production class. After a break to finish his private house, in 2012 Toyota contacted him again and with "his" VDJ200 he participated in the Pharaons Rally in Egypt as preparation for the Dakar 2013, in which he achieved the second position in T2 (behind Foy).
In 2014 both Toyota teams from Spain and Japan will have more competitors in the T2 class - the most (sure) with a Toyota Land Cruiser 200. All aim for the title - and to be honest, in the T2 production class the chances are much more better for each partipant: Because the cars due to the strict regulations are very similar, it depends more on driver and navigator than in technology...
2013/12/17 | 23:11 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS