After stunning the international cross country car racing world by finishing third and then second in its first two attempts at the Dakar Rally, Toyota Motorsport South Africa returns to South America for the 35th running of the world’s longest and toughest motor race in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile in January 2014.
Carrying the hopes of all South African sport fans will be 2009 winners and 2013 runners-up Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz and Dakar rookie Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie, who navigated Duncan Vos to 10th place in 2012. They will be at the wheels of two new racing Toyota Imperial Hilux 4x4s designed and built by Toyota Motorsport and currently nearing completion in their workshop in Johannesburg.
Team principal Glyn Hall explains that the new Dakar Hilux is not radically different to its predecessor.
“It’s an improved version of the previous one. The two new bakkies, which will feature independent rear suspension, are the ninth and 10th Hilux V8 off road racers we have built in our Johannesburg workshop since we built the first one for the domestic championship in 2010.”
The most significant difference between the 2014 version and the bakkie that did duty so impressively in January is the Toyota engine.
“This time we will be using the 2UR-GSE all-alloy 32-valve quad camshaft 5,0 litre (4 969 cc) engine that powers the Lexus IS-F,” said Hall. “It has petrol direct injection, high-flow cylinder heads, dual variable valve timing with electric inlet camshaft actuation, titanium inlet valves, high-lift camshafts and produces over 310 kW of power and more than 500 N.m of torque at only 2 000 r/min.
“The significant increase in torque at low revs is the most important improvement over the previous engine, which gave nothing away in terms of reliability and overall performance.
“This engine is the most powerful – horsepower per litre – in the Toyota stable. It is a high-end performance ‘green’ engine that scores exceptionally well in terms of gas emissions and fuel economy while still achieving the highest levels of performance. It is an engine that will take us to the next level.
“We’ve been able to adapt its characteristics to suit the conditions and challenges we will experience on the Dakar – specifically in the exhaust manifold and the engine management system areas, which the Dakar regulations allow,” Hall added.
“We will have a completely different exhaust system to suit the new engine.
“We have also added air conditioning this time, something Giniel and Dirk have been pressing us for. Obviously with temperatures that rise above the 40 degree Centigrade mark – over 60 degrees inside the cabin – in the Atacama Desert and drop well below freezing crossing the Andes Mountains, anything we can do to make the conditions more comfortable for the crew is important. The challenge has been to find ways to save the 20 kg weight we’ve added.”
The chassis of the latest version of the Dakar Toyota Hilux is little different to the 2013 bakkie that finished second with De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz in January. Changes include the use of composite materials for the fuel box and interior floor, to reduce weight, and some of the bolt-on parts.
The 2014 Dakar Rally starts in Rosario in Argentina on January 5 and ends in the Chilean city of Valparaiso on January 18. There will be seven special stages in Argentina as well as a rest day in Salta on January 11. Chile will host six special stages. The motorcycle competitors will also have a marathon stage and an overnight stop in Bolivia.
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Dakar Sponsors, Specialist Official Suppliers and Technical Partners
Toyota, Imperial Toyota Group, Duxbury Netgear, Innovation Group, Toyota Financial Services, Blue Sky, Bosch, Castrol, DeWalt, Donaldson, Edgecam, 4×4 Mega World, Hallspeed, Mastercraft, Michelin, Mistral, NGK, Oakley, SKF, Spanjaard, Sparco and TFM.