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Feb 21 19, 1:19 pm

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by | News

Feb. 21, 19 | 1:19 pm

DUBAI: From the Arabian Desert to the frozen polar wastes, Toyota’s vehicles proved themselves as trusted top performers, whatever the environment. Now it has gone further in its world-conquering achievements by claiming Toyota’s first victory in the 41st edition of the gruelling Dakar Rally.

GAZOO Racing South Africa’s modified Hilux led throughout ten days and more than 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometres) of harsh desert driving in Peru to claim the win in the car category.

Even though the pick-up was specially adapted to deal with the challenge – including a mid-mounted V8 engine – its success is another demonstration of the reliable and hard-wearing quality of the engineering that has defined Hilux for decades. Customers who use the Hilux for their day-to-day business will enjoy a versatile pick-up with built-in ruggedness that combines the essence of Toyota’s learnings from tough motorsports events with high levels of safety and comfort, making it a robust all-rounder.

“I would like to sincerely thank all teams that chose Toyota for this year’s Dakar Rally. Thank you for your hard work! Nasser and I drove the winning Hilux in Spain in late 2017. At that time, the team presented me with the second-place trophy from a past event, promising me that next time they would secure the first-place trophy. I am thrilled that they were able to fulfil that promise!” said Toyota President Akio Toyoda.

He added: “There are no proper roads in the desert! However, if cars cannot run in such harsh conditions, they are without a raison d’être. Cars must be able to run wherever drivers want to go. I believe passionately that, ‘roads make cars.’ This year and going forward, the Toyota Group as a whole will strive to continue making ‘ever-better’ cars by traversing a wide variety of roads and terrains across the world. Thank you for your continued support.”

The challenges faced by the GAZOO Racing South Africa Hilux on the Dakar were exceptional, but Nasser Al Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel successfully negotiated the ten stages to seal a historic first victory for Toyota in one of the world’s toughest motorsports events. Their triumph adds to the recent impressive successes Toyota has clinched in international competitions, such as the Le Mans 24 Hours and the manufacturers’ title in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Nasser Al Attiyah, who has won Dakar Rally twice previously, said: “We are so happy to win, not only for ourselves but also for Toyota and the entire GAZOO Racing SA team. Everyone has worked so hard for so long and really deserve this. Thank you for letting us drive this car.”

Since 2012, the team had posted five podium places and seven top-five finishes, whereas Al Attiyah’s win comes after a second-place result in 2018. The Hilux was also the first petrol vehicle in its class to take victory since the start of the Dakar’s South American era, being powered by a mid-mounted, normally aspirated V8.

There was further success for Toyota in the event with the Team Land Cruiser Auto Body (TLC)’s #350, driven by Christian Lavieille and Jean-Pierre Garcin, winning the Dakar Production Division category for the sixth consecutive year. Meanwhile, #349, driven by Akira Miura and Laurent Lichtleuchter, secured second place in the category.

Over the years, Toyota has been participating in many different forms of motorsports, ‎including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), and the Nürburgring 24 ‎Hours endurance race. Toyota’s participation in these events was overseen by separate ‎entities within the company until April 2015, when Toyota established GAZOO Racing (GR), ‎to consolidate all of its motorsport’s activities under one in-house brand. Representing ‎Toyota’s belief that ‘the roads build the people, and the people build the cars,’ GR highlights the role of motorsports as a fundamental pillar of Toyota’s commitment to ‎making ‘ever-better’ cars. Harnessing years of experience gained under the extreme ‎conditions of various motorsports events, GR aims to forge new ‎technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.

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It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

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