|SA-Dakar 2013: Toyota South Africa and Team Overdrive will enter six Hilux.|
The striking-looking design for the racing version of the top-selling Toyota Hilux, which will contest the 2013 Dakar Rally in South America in January, is destined to become a familiar sight to South African fans during the nightly television coverage on Super Sport of the 15-day race.
Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz, winners of the Dakar in 2009 (with Volkswagen) and third this year on Toyota, and Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, 10th overall in January and currently leading the "ABSA South African Off Road Championship" for production vehicles, will again crew the two South African designed and built entries.
The all-South African team, with the exception of German von Zitzewitz, who navigated De Villiers to victory in the 2009 Dakar, made a big impression in this year’s event in Argentina, Chile and Peru and have set the bar high for themselves to better their significant achievement in their first attempt at the world’s longest and toughest motor race.
Since Toyota’s announcement on July 20 that Toyota Motorsport, in partnership with Imperial Toyota, Duxbury Netgear, South African Airways, Innovation Group and Toyota Financial Services, would return to South America to contest the 2013, 2014 and 2015 editions, the pressure has been on at the Toyota Imperial South Africa Team’s workshops.
"It’s been a very busy period for the lads," admitted team principal Glyn Hall. "With new Dakar rules for 2013 and the ongoing need to develop and improve our racing vehicles, we’ve had to come up with a better Dakar contender while at the same time continuing with our national championship off road and rally campaigns.
"So we’ve been preparing and racing three Auris rally cars and two Hilux offroad bakkies, while designing an evolution version of the Dakar Hilux and building it alongside our other vehicles. We’re also designing and building a new contender for the 2013 South African rally championship."
The new, evolution Toyota Hilux that will be driven by 2009 Dakar Rally winners Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz, is taking shape under Hall’s expert and watchful eye. It will be the best racing Hilux ever built.
The initial construction of the chromoly (chromium and molybdenum) tubular steel space frame chassis and integrated roll cage is almost complete and the fabrication team under Toyota Motorsport general manager Rob Howie will hand over to the assembly team under workshop manager and chief technician Wimpie "Mac" Botha this week.
A tight timeline before the two Dakar Hilux pickups are loaded on to pallets and flown by South African Airways to South America in mid-December includes shaking down the cars and additional sand dune testing.
"In addition, we’ve been making spare parts to support our and customer Hilux owners’ Dakar efforts and we’ve also been supplying assembly kits to the Belgian Team Overdrive who have begun building their own SA-designed Hilux racers under licence to us. They’re manufacturing the chassis in Belgium, while we’re supplying all the components."
The first two Belgian-built Hilux pickups competed in the Morocco Rally last week in preparation for the Dakar. The combined Toyota Imperial South Africa Dakar team and Team Overdrive will enter six Hilux V8s for the Dakar - making it the second biggest team to participate in Dakar 2013.
2012/10/24 | 19:35 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/TOYOTA SA