Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel arrive at the 2018 Dakar Rally with a clear target – win the race to hand Toyota their first victory at the famous rally. To give themselves the greatest chance of success the Qatari driver and the team have been working tirelessly throughout the year to ensure they arrive in South America in top form.
Al-Attiyah says, “Our new Toyota Hilux is unrecognisable from the car we raced at the last edition of the Dakar. I now have a better view due to a change of seat position and this is something that can help a lot. There’s lots of changes under the hood to comply with the new race regulations. This car is capable of doing something really special and I believe I can drive this new Toyota Hilux to victory in South America.
“For the 2018 Dakar Rally we go back again to Peru and that means we’ll start in the dunes. It will five days of sand dunes and this will be interesting because we have a lot of experience on this terrain.”
Al-Attiyah and his French co-driver Baumel have been in imperious form all year as they won Cross-Country Rally World Cup events in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Spain, Hungry, Poland and Morocco. These victories handed Al-Attiyah and Baumel a third consecutive FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup title.
“My target is the same as it always is before the Dakar, I’m going there to win the race.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Mathieu Baumel and Nasser Al-Attiyah © Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool
While winning rallies all over the world Al-Attiyah has been working alongside the mechanics and engineers of Belgium’s Overdrive and Toyota Gazoo Racing in South Africa to make improvements to the vehicle they will bring to the next Dakar. The Toyota Hilux that comes to Lima to take on motorsport’s toughest test of endurance has been completely revamped over the past 12 months.
Special attention has been put into the new chassis concept which took advantage of the new regulations allowing bigger suspension travel for the all-wheel drive vehicles. The other area to watch out for is the new location of the engine which allows better weight distribution between the four wheels. Soon we’ll see if enough has been done to ensure the all-new Hilux can compete with best of the best at the Dakar.
The 40th anniversary edition of the Dakar returns to Peru which means that there’ll be plenty of sand on the menu for the offroad racers. The fact that the first five days of competition take place on the dunes could end up being a massive advantage to Al-Attiyah as he is considered the fastest driver on sand in the race. Witness what the Qatari can do on the dunes in this clip.
“Giving Toyota their first Dakar win would be right up there with the best achievements of my career,” Nasser Al-Attiyah
Source: Red Bull Content Pool