The Imperial Toyota Dakar Team began its preparation for the 2014 Dakar rally in the Namib Desert near Walvis Bay last week, to try and better a third place finish in 2012 and second overall at this year’s event with a win in 2014.
This marks the third time that Toyota Motorsport South Africa will have a go at the mother of all rally raids. Winners in 2009 Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz are back to head up the team’s title charge, while seasoned navigator Rob Howie will partner Dakar rookie Leeoy Poulter.
In preparation for the strenuous conditions experienced during the two weeks of Dakar, the quartet and the rest of the South African Dakar effort are using the wilderness of the Namib to simulate some of the dune fields , fast gravel tracks and generally hostile terrain of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina that make up the Dakar stages.
“Since our success in the 2013 Dakar Rally in January we have continued our development of the Toyota Hilux in the Donaldson South African Cross Country Championship, which is one of the toughest and most respected national championships in the world,” said team principal Glyn Hall.
The team has decided to stick with the current 5,0-litre V8 powerplant that served on this year’s Dakar and is currently doing service in the two Hiluxes on home soil, opting to concentrate on the suspension, gearing, brakes and even aeronamics amongst others to further improve the current formula.
The Dakar Rally will once again take place in South America, from 5-18 January 2014. But the local Hiluxes will be in action for the rest of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship – the next round being the Vryburg 400 in the North West province (6-7 September).