Toyota SA Motors is pleased to announce the team that will tackle to 2016 Dakar Rally, which takes place from January 2nd to 16th in Argentina and Bolivia. The race, often billed as the toughest motorsport event in the world, will see three race Toyota Hilux vehicles from South Africa take part under the new team name of Toyota Gazoo Racing SA.

The new name reflects a global move by the Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) to unify its racing efforts, and will be expanded to include more racing formulae during 2016. The word ‘Gazoo’ has a long and proud history in Japan, and is synonymous with driving pleasure, fun and racing excellence.

For 2016, the new name will be proudly displayed on the three race Toyota Hilux vehicles that will compete at Dakar. These vehicles will be the New Generation Hilux which debuts in South Africa during February 2016. The latest evolution of the locally developed and built race Toyota Hilux features a new engine and transmission, with many refinements to the suspension and electronic systems, in addition to the bodywork being aligned with the latest New Generation Toyota Hilux.

These vehicles will be crewed by Dakar veteran Giniel de Villiers and his long-serving German navigator, Dirk von Zitzewitz; South African Cross-Country champions Leeroy Poulter and navigator Rob Howie; and Saudi racing sensation Yazeed Al Rajhi and German navigator Timo Gottschalk.

Al Rahji and Gottschalk campaigned a privately-entered Toyota Hilux during the 2015 Dakar Rally, and impressed all by running in third place until a technical problem halted their progress. Now, as part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team, Al Rahji and Gottschalk will enjoy additional support and the expertise of the technical crew on the event.

“It is an exciting time for us,” says Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing, Calvyn Hamman. “We’ve done a lot of development on the race Hilux this year. Now, with a three-car team, we feel that we’re in a better position than ever to take on the Dakar.”

The Argentine capital of Buenos Aires plays host to the start of the 2016 Dakar, on January 2nd, 2016. This is followed by 13 tough stages, stretching away from Buenos Aires and into Bolivia, before turning southwards again to the finish in the Argentine city of Rosario on January 16th, 2016.

The 2016 route was changed as a result of the country of Peru withdrawing from the race. This means that the bulk of the Dakar takes place in Argentina this time, though the stages on the high plains of Bolivia (altiplano) will add the element of extreme altitude to this edition of the race.

“The Dakar remains an amazingly tough race,” says Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing SA, Glyn Hall. “There are many surprises along the way, and winning it is never easy. With that said, the latest evolution of our race Toyota Hilux, together with a highly talented and motivated crew, certainly gives us a great shot at it. But if there’s one thing you can count on at Dakar, it is that there’s no such thing as a ‘sure thing’.”