Toyota Gazoo Racing SA have revealed the new race vehicle, known as the Toyota Hilux Evo; to be raced in the 2017 Dakar Rally. The team is also excited about its new racing strategy, as well as the inclusion of multiple winner of the Dakar Rally, Nasser Al-Attiyah, in the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA squad.
The new Toyota Hilux Evo now sports rear-wheel drive, weighs about 600kg less than the previous Hilux racing vehicle, and the wheels are much bigger too, along with increased suspension travel. IT features onboard tyre inflation and deflation and a larger air restrictor and is powered by the proven Lexus IS-F V8 petrol engine.
The new vehicle represents a revolution for the team, as it is an entirely new concept, utilising two-wheel-drive rather than the four-wheel-drive systems of the past. Opting for two-wheel-drive allows for a set of rules with more freedom than is afforded to four-wheel-drive vehicles.
“We are very excited about this new direction,” says Toyota SA Motors’ Glenn Crompton. “At its core this is very much still a true Toyota Hilux, but at the same time we firmly believe it offers us new opportunities for Dakar 2017 and beyond.”
Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall says, “We’ve taken all the testing and real-world experience we gained with the four-wheel-drive Toyota Hilux over the past five years, and repackaged it in the lighter, faster Toyota Hilux Evo.”
Under its skin, the Toyota Hilux Evo features an innovative layout that sees all essential components – the engine and transmission – housed between the two axles. This gives the vehicle an advantage over its competitors in terms of weight distribution, and with all the heaviest components placed near the bottom of the vehicle, the centre of gravity is lower than ever before. More freedom in the regulations allowed the engineers to explore new ideas and avenues.
“The important thing for us was to retain as much as possible from the previous vehicle in terms of suspension setup and engine tech,” continues Hall. “With this in mind we’ve stayed with the same proven, state-of-the-art V8 engine, and used all our knowledge when designing and setting up the suspension.”
For the 2017 edition of the Dakar the ASO have announced the average altitude for the race is above 2000 metres. This means that the normally aspirated V8 will enjoy a 38 mm restrictor for the first time, allowing the modern Toyota engine to breathe more efficiently. It will also be the first time that Toyota, MINI and Peugeot will be using the same size restrictor, as previous years saw our competitors sport either a 1 mm or 2mm advantage.
”This is good news indeed,” concludes Crompton. “The new car, along with the bigger restrictor, will place us in a strong position, giving our drivers a platform to work from when starting the race in January.”
The new vehicle will now undergo rigorous testing and refinement, before being shipped off to South America at the end of the year, in time to take on the world’s most grueling motor sports event – the Dakar Rally.