Toyota Gazoo Racing SA is pleased to announce the team that will be competing at Dakar 2017, which starts in the Paraguayan capital of Ascension on January 2nd, 2017. The team will campaign two factory-prepared Toyota Hilux race vehicles, and includes two former winners of the world’s most grueling automotive event.
Joining the team for 2017 is double former Dakar winner, and top-ranked World Champion driver, Nasser Al Attiyah. Qatari Al Attiyah, who last won the event with MINI in 2015, will be partnered by long-standing navigator Matthieu Baumel (France).
“We are very excited about Nasser and Matthieu joining our team,” says Toyota SA Motors’ Glenn Crompton, Vice-President, Marketing. “The pair have proven themselves over the last number of years, winning not only Dakar, but also every round of the FIA’s Cross-Country World Cup they competed in. They also won that championship in 2015, and have notched up five consecutive victories on this year’s championship behind the wheel of one of our Toyota Hilux race vehicles – sealing the 2016 championship in the process.”
Toyota stalwart Giniel de Villiers, who won the event in 2009, will again be partnered by German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz. The pair have campaigned the locally built and developed Toyota Hilux in the race since 2012, achieving a third place (2012), second place (2013), fourth place (2014), second again in 2015 and third again in 2016.
“Both Giniel and Dirk are fired up to win again. They’ve got an impeccable record on the Dakar, but both are hungry to stand on the top step of the podium again,” says Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall.
Hall is positive that Al Attiyah’s influence will benefit the entire team: “Not only is Nasser a very popular driver with a truly massive global following, but he is also exceptionally fast.”
With the new race regulations, that allow for a slightly larger 38 mm restrictor in the Toyota Hilux, as well as the addition of Al Attiyah/Baumel to the team, Hall has every reason to be upbeat about Dakar 2017.
“Winning the Dakar isn’t easy,” concluded Hall, “there are a lot of people trying really hard. But winning Dakar requires more than just fast drivers, good navigators and a highly reliable car. We know we’ve got all of those elements, but you also need lady luck to smile over you. Who knows, maybe 2017 is our year?”
CAR 1: Race number 301
Driver – Nasser Al Attiyah (Qatar)
Navigator – Matthieu Baumel (France)
CAR 2: Race number 302
Driver – Giniel de Villiers (RSA)
Navigator – Dirk von Zitzewitz (Germany)
Source: Toyota SA