|Dakar Rally 2014: Toyota to start desert testing in the Namib in August.|
Tough just got tougher as Toyota Motorsport South Africa announced a new look team to kick start their Dakar Rally campaign in preparation for the world’s toughest race in January 2014. Dakar champions Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz will return for the 2014 race and this year they will be joined by Toyota racers Leeroy Poulter (driver) and navigator Rob Howie.
Construction of the first of two all-new racing Toyota Hilux 4x4s has commenced in Toyota Motorsport’s Barbecue Downs workshop near Kyalami. The Toyota Imperial South Africa Team will return to the Namib Desert near Walvis Bay at the beginning of August for four days of testing in the sand dunes with the 2013 Toyota Hilux in which Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz finished second in this year’s Dakar Rally.
“The Hilux has shown its mettle in the past two Dakar rallies and have mounted a strong charge for the top of the podium. We believe the youthful energy of Leeroy, and the experience of Giniel will combine to make a strong team in 2014,” says Calvyn Hamman, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Toyota South Africa Motors. “Know that you carry the hearts and hopes of all South Africans with you on the back of your Hilux!”
De Villiers and von Zitzewitz, winners of the Dakar Rally in 2009, will reunite for the first time since their heroics in South America in January to begin their preparations for their third Dakar together in the all-South African team and the locally-built and developed racing Toyota Hilux.
After finishing third in Toyota South Africa Motors’ first attempt at the world’s longest and toughest motorsport event in 2012 and second last year, the Toyota Imperial South Africa Team will attempt to win the iconic event in what would be a major coup for South African motorsport.
The team will again enjoy the backing of Toyota South Africa Motors and South African companies the Imperial Toyota Group, Duxbury Netgear, the Innovation Group and Toyota Financial Services.
“The Dakar Rally is a huge challenge and we must be realistic about our chances of winning,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “Just to complete the 8 500-kilometre route through two countries over 14 days, with its 13 timed special stages, is an achievement. We are very proud of our podium finishes in the last two events and we will be aiming to finish on the podium again. A win would be a great reward for the whole team and for its sponsors.”
Commenting on the new Dakar Hilux, Hall confirmed it would again feature independent rear suspension and would incorporate a number of changes designed to make it faster. “We will be taking into account everything we have learnt on the past two Dakars as well as looking at how we can obtain some more power.
“The rules require that you use a production engine from the manufacturer’s stable and while the 5-litre, normally aspirated V8 in our racing Hilux has done a great, trouble-free job to date, we are looking at ways we can be more competitive in terms of outright speed with our main rivals and their turbo-charged cars,” Hall added.
2013/07/30 | 22:19 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/JACKSON