Following a successful international debut in the Morocco Rally last week, where a customer example entered by Belgian team Overdrive won two stages and ran with the leaders on each of the event’s six days, Toyota Motorsport’s 2012 Dakar Rally-bound racing Hilux double cab pickups head to Namibia next week for sand testing in the tall dunes of the Namib Desert.
The all-South African Dakar team will be testing with both of their racing Toyota Hilux double cab pickups, which are backed by Imperial Toyota, Duxbury Netgear and the Innovation Group. They will be driven by former South African off road champion and winner of the 2009 Dakar Rally Giniel de Villiers and four times national champion Duncan Vos.
De Villiers’ co-driver will be the experienced German Dirk von Zitzewitz, who has sat alongside the South African in each of the last four Dakars and is a veteran of eight. Both are Red Bull athletes.
Vos will be accompanied by his regular national championship co-driver Rob Howie, who is also general manager of Toyota Motorsport.
“The Morocco Rally was the first real test of our proudly South African Hilux and we’re delighted with its success in an event very similar to, but shorter than, the Dakar,” said Toyota Motorsport team principal Glyn Hall.
“Team Overdrive and their Argentine driver Orlando Terranova did a great job and provided us with valuable data ahead of the Dakar.
“We have a very hectic schedule to complete before we put our two pickups on the plane to Argentina towards the end of November, after we’ve competed in the final round of the domestic Absa Off Road Championship in Gauteng on November 12,” said Hall.
“Since competing in the recent Human Auto 400 national championship off road race in Bloemfontein, we’ve been hard at it preparing them for the sand test. Giniel will go ahead to establish a suitable test route and we’ll get straight into the testing on November 3. We expect to be there for four days.”
De Villiers, who will be competing in his 10th Dakar, will be using his considerable experience to evaluate the Imperial Toyota Hilux and give valuable feedback to the technical team as well as pass on his knowledge to Vos.
“The test will not only prepare us for the sand and the high temperatures we expect in Argentina, Chile and Peru, but it will provide invaluable training and hands-on experience for Duncan and Rob. Dirk will be joining the team for the first time and will be working closely with Rob to share his wealth of knowledge and prepare him for his first Dakar.
“Our test schedule will include both performance and endurance testing and we’ll be checking 95% of the actual parts we will be using on the Dakar. We’ll also be doing heat testing, engine mapping in the dunes, suspension testing and evaluating our satellite communications and equipment that we will be using to keep the media back in South Africa informed of our progress throughout the 14 days of the race.
“We have received tremendous support from our regular specialist suppliers and technical partners and a number of new supporters have come on board for this historic proudly South African adventure,” added Hall.
Imperial Toyota is part of the Automotive Retail Division of JSE-listed transport group, Imperial Holdings. Duxbury is a specialist IT networking distributor and sole distributor of Netgear. The CEO is former top motor sportsman and Daytona 24 Hour winner, Graham Duxbury.
The Innovation Group is a specialist global provider of software and outsourcing solutions to insurers and the associated fleet, automotive and property sectors.
The Dakar Rally will start in the Argentine seaside resort of Mar del Plata on the Atlantic coast of South America and will finish almost 9 000 km later in the Peruvian capital Lima on the Pacific coast on January 15. In between will be five racing special stages in Argentina, a crossing of the Andes Mountains, five stages in Chile including a crossing of the Atacama Desert before a rest day on January 8 in the Chilean town of Copiapo. Then, for the first time, the rally enters Peru for four stages and a ceremonial finish.
Toyota Motorsport Acknowledges Its Dakar Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners Imperial Toyota, Duxbury Netgear, Innovation Group, TFM, 4×4 Mega World, Blue Sky, Castrol, NGK, SKF, Ferodo, Spanjaard, Edgecam, Donaldson, Oakley.