Toyota’s Dakar Rally Hilux ready for 2013

Toyota Motorsport revealed the machine that will carry some of South Africa’s best off-road drivers and navigators through the 2013 Dakar Rally in January next year.

Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewits, who placed third this year, will be in a racing version of the Hilux, as will Duncan Vos and Rob Howie. The latter, younger pair came 10th overall in January, and are certainly a team to keep an eye on.

The team, like the Hilux, is almost all South Africa – save for Von Zitzewitz. They’ll traverse the gruelling 15 day rally with the help of the Japanese manufacturer, Imperial Toyota, Duxbury Netgear, SAA, Innovation Group and Toyota Financial Services. With that and the entire SA racing-enthusiast population behind them, the pressure is on the more senior team especially to repeat their 2009 victory.

“It’s been a very busy period for the lads,” admitted team principal Glyn Hall – who is overseeing the development of the Hiluxes. “With new Dakar rules for 2013 and the ongoing need to develop and improve our racing vehicles, we’ve had to come up with a better Dakar contender while at the same time continuing with our national champion-ship off road and rally campaigns.

“So we’ve been preparing and racing three Auris rally cars and two Hilux off-road bakkies, while designing an evolution version of the Dakar Hilux and building it alongside our other vehicles. We’re also designing and building a new contender for the 2013 South African rally championship.”

The initial construction of the chromoly (chromium and molybdenum) tubular steel space frame chassis and integrated roll cage is complete and the fabrication team under Toyota Motorsport general manager Rob Howie have handed over over to the assembly team under workshop manager and chief technician Wimpie “Mac” Botha.

In mid-December the two Hilux bakkies will be loaded onto pallets and flown by SAA to South America. Before this, however, testing and a shakedown still need to happen – which we expect to take place in the Western Cape some time this month.

“In addition, we’ve been making spare parts to support our and customer Hilux owners’ Dakar efforts and we’ve also been supplying assembly kits to the Belgian Team Overdrive who have begun building their own SA-designed Hilux racers under licence to us. They’re manufacturing the chassis in Belgium, while we’re supplying all the components.”

The first two Belgian-built Hilux pickups competed in the Morocco Rally in preparation for the Dakar. The combined Toyota Imperial South Africa Dakar team and Team Overdrive will enter six Hilux V8s for the Dakar Rally – making it the second biggest team to participate in Dakar 2013.

You can win

Toyota’s dedicated Dakar Rally website allows readers and fans to ask the team questions, get fresh updates on their progress, and enter into a draw for a Hilux of their own. Go here to find out more.