TOYOTA ANNOUNCES FORMIDABLE LINE-UP FOR NATIONAL OFF ROAD AND RALLY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Toyota Motorsport has announced a formidable line-up of talent and experience to contest the national off road racing and rally championships.
Backed by the same sponsor with whom it has partnered for more than 30 years – together they have accumulated 10 national rally championships and nine off road racing championships – the Castrol Team Toyota squad will sport new livery, a brand new rally contender and a new off road co-driver.
In addition, Toyota Financial Service has joined the eminent group of sponsor partners that also includes the Imperial Toyota Group and the Innovation Group. “We’re delighted and proud to be associated with Castrol Team Toyota,” said Toyota Financial Services CEO Johan Brink. “Toyota Financial Services has been the Toyota customer preferred credit provider for more than a decade, underwriting nearly 50% of financed Toyota and Lexus dealer sales and close to 100 000 Toyota Hilux purchases since May 2000.”
Reigning off road champion Duncan Vos and championship runner-up Anthony Taylor will drive the two class SP Castrol Toyota Hilux double cab pickups that helped Toyota win the 2012 manufacturers’ championship. Vos and championship-winning co-driver Rob Howie will crew the #1 Toyota Hilux that won three rounds last year and in which they competed in the Dakar Rally in January.
Taylor will be accompanied by new co-driver Dennis Murphy in the #3 Hilux. Both vehicles have been completely rebuilt and share the specifications of the Vos/Howie Dakar Hilux.
The Castrol Toyota rally team has a new look about it that goes beyond the livery. While the driver/co-driver combinations remain unchanged – 2012 championship runners-up Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan in car #2 and Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee in car #23 – the big news is they will be competing in a brand new car. The long-awaited successor to the Super 2000 class Toyota Auris is the Yaris, which will make its debut in the Total Rally in KwaZulu-Natal on March 8 and 9.
It will be another first for South Africa and Toyota Motorsport, who helped pioneer the introduction of the S2000 class in South Africa in 2006 with the uniquely South African Corolla-based RunX rally car and its successor in 2008, the Auris. It will be the first Yaris to contest a national rally championship anywhere in the world and it has been designed and built in Toyota Motorsport’s Kyalami workshops.
“Currently, the Auris is 60 kg over the minimum weight and this has been a major challenge for us,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “The international launch of the Yaris has changed all that. We’re in motor sport to win and this new car will give us a much better platform to work from, allowing us more scope within the rally regulations.
“It’s been a major challenge building this new rally car alongside our Dakar Rally and local motor sport commitments. The lads in the workshop have been extremely busy. We took everything we know from the Auris and designed and used all of this knowledge together with some innovative thinking to produce what I believe is a championship winner. It’s more nimble and has a much better weight distribution. We’ve gone the two-door route because of the rear design of the car, which is aesthetically more pleasing, and for practical reasons like accessibility.
“I believe this new car is exactly where Toyota wants to be,” said Hall. “It explores the limits of technology and it looks sensational. I am very excited about it and feel the same way as I did when I first saw the evolution 2013 Dakar Hilux. The whole project has been inspirational for the team.”
The opening round of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship (previously known as the Absa Off Road Championship) is the RFS Magalies 400, which takes place around Tarlton International Raceway near Krugersdorp on Friday and Saturday (March 1 and 2).
The rally championship gets underway on March 8 and 9 with the Total Rally in KwaZulu-Natal.
Toyota Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Toyota Financial Services, Imperial Toyota Group, Innovation Group, Bosch, Donaldson, Edgecam, Ferodo, NGK, SKF and Spanjaard,