With just one month to go before the start of the world’s greatest motor race, the Imperial Toyota South Africa Team that will contest the 2012 Dakar Rally in South America in January is involved in a race against time.
While the main challenge of racing nearly 9 000 kilometres through Argentina, Chile and Peru from January 1 to 15 lies ahead, the immediate task is to meet the December 9 deadline to load the team’s two Hilux double cab pickups and four tons of equipment and spare parts on pallets for the South African Airways flight to Buenos Aires in Argentina on December 15.
The Toyota Motorsport workshops in Barbecue Downs, within earshot of the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, have been a hive of activity ever since the final round of the Absa South African Off Road Championship ended on November 12. The two V8-engined Toyotas, which contested the eight-event championship, had to be stripped down and rebuilt to full Dakar specification in preparation for the race through Argentina, Chile and Peru.
Once completed, they will undergo a brief ‘shakedown’ run before being partly disassembled again in order to fit them into the cargo hold of the SAA Airbus that will fly them to South America.
“The entire team has put in maximum effort over the past few months to get this show on the road,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “It’s been a massive, seven days a week effort with precious little time to sleep. Once the vehicles are safely tucked away in the cargo hold of the SAA Airbus, we’ll be able to think about enjoying Christmas with our families before we fly out to Buenos Aires on December 26.
“To enter and compete in the Dakar Rally is a major – and expensive – undertaking and our all-South African participation would not have been possible without the generous assistance of our sponsors, IMPERIAL Toyota, Duxbury Netgear and the Innovation Group, together with the support of a number of specialist suppliers and technical partners,” Hall added.
“We are also very grateful to South African Airways for their generous support and are pleased to be partnered by Proudly South African, the ‘buy local’ marketing campaign.”
The team will reassemble the two Toyotas at the Toyota Argentina plant in Zarate, 100 kilometres north of Buenos Aires, before a pre-race test and shakedown at Toyota’s 4×4 test track on December 28. Toyota Argentina builds Hilux and Fortuner at Zarate for the local market as well as export to other countries in South America.
The following day the race vehicles will be transported the 450 kilometres to the Argentine coastal resort city of Mar del Plata, where they will be scrutineered on December 31 before the rally starts there on January 1.
The 33rd Dakar Rally, which will cover some 9 000km including more than 4 000 km of timed special stages, is the third to be held in South America since the 2008 edition was cancelled due to political unrest and terrorist activities in Africa, its traditional home.
The Imperial Toyota Hilux pickups are among 171 cars entered. There are also 185 motorcycles, 76 trucks and 33 quads.
They will be driven by 2009 Dakar Rally winner and former South African off road champion Giniel de Villiers and four times SA off road champion Duncan Vos. De Villiers’ co-driver will be German Dirk von Zitzewitz, while Vos will be accompanied by regular national championship team-mate Rob Howie.
Toyota Motorsport Acknowledges Its Dakar Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
IMPERIAL Toyota, Duxbury Netgear, Innovation Group, SAA, TFM, 4×4 Mega World, Blue Sky Satellite, Castrol, NGK, SKF, Ferodo, Spanjaard, Edgecam, Mastercraft, Donaldson, Oakley, Sparco, Shatterprufe and Supreme Spring.