Imperial Toyota, part of the Automotive Retail Division of JSE-listed transport group, Imperial Holdings, has announced that it is to back Giniel de Villiers in an S2000 Toyota Auris in the remainder of the 2012 South African Rally Championship.
Red Bull athlete De Villiers and co-driver Ralph Pitchford will compete in the Volkswagen Rally in the Eastern Cape on July 13 and 14 as part of a three-car team entered by Toyota Motorsport.
The Imperial Toyota Auris has been built by Toyota Motorsport under the direction of Glyn Hall at the team’s Barbecue Downs workshop and joins the two Team Castrol Toyota Auris rally cars crewed by Johnny Gemmell/Carolyn Swan and Leeroy Poulter/Elvene Coetzee in the fourth round of the national series.
“We are delighted to extend our already very successful partnership with Giniel and Toyota Motorsport into rallying,” said Imperial Toyota CEO Andrew Miller. “We recognise the value of motor sport and the powerful role it plays in brand building and we also greatly value our association with Toyota Motorsport, which goes back to 2010 and which grew to a higher level with our partnership with Toyota in the hugely successful Imperial Toyota South Africa team in this year’s Dakar Rally.
“When the opportunity presented itself to expand our association with motor sport into the national rally championship, it made perfect sense to support Giniel in a Toyota. We know how important it is for Giniel to keep his hand in between his Dakar Rally commitments and we look forward to watching him fly the Imperial Toyota colours high in this exciting form of motor sport, just as he and the rest of the team did so effectively in the Dakar.”
De Villiers finished a remarkable third overall in the Dakar Rally in South America in January in the South African-designed and built Toyota Hilux’s first attempt at the world’s longest and toughest motor race. “I have been keen to get back into rallying after my debut year with Ralph in 2011. We have unfinished business there and were just getting into our stride when the season ended.
“Racing a four-wheel-drive rally car over loose gravel roads at high speeds is also a great way to sharpen my driving skills and keep me focused between Dakar Rallies. A big ‘thank-you’ to Imperial Toyota and the other sponsors for making this possible and also to Glyn and his team at Toyota Motorsport for building me a new car. I can’t wait to try it out on the Volkswagen Rally.”