Over the years, Toyota has been participating in many different forms of motorsport, including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race. These activities were conducted by separate entities within the company, such as “Toyota Racing”, “Lexus Racing” and “GAZOO Racing”.
Of those, “GAZOO Racing” in particular first entered the Nürburgring 24 Hours race in 2007 with two used Altezzas, supported by a team of mechanics that comprised employees selected from various departments within Toyota, under the belief that “the roads build the people, and the people build the cars”.
This was very much in line with the thinking of Toyota’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, who said already in 1952: “Car racing is more than just entertainment. It is vital to the development of the Japanese passenger vehicle industry. Just as athletes test their capabilities by competing with all their strength in the Olympics, automakers use racing as an opportunity to push a vehicle's performance to the limits and compete for supremacy, enabling them to discover new ways of advancing automotive technology.”
With this in mind, in April 2015, Toyota went back to the basis and united Toyota’s motorsports activities into “TOYOTA GAZOO Racing”, placing motorsports as a fundament in its commitment to make ever-better cars.
By competing under the umbrella of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in major worldwide motorsports events, including the WRC, WEC and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race, Toyota is developing its people, improving its products and producing ever-better cars.
CROSS COUNTRY RALLIES
The Dakar Rally is the toughest motorsport in the world and the most famous rally raid in the world, which unfolds across undeveloped terrain, such as deserts, mountain passes, etc.
The Toyota Group is well represented in the Dakar Rally with several teams, including Toyota Auto Body and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa, entering Land Cruisers and other Toyota vehicles.
RACING TEAMS AT THE DAKAR RALLY - 2017
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SOUTH AFRICA
TGRSA will be fielding an upgraded version of their four-wheel-drive Hilux. The newer Hilux boasts a bigger air restrictor, a necessity for the Dakar Rally which has an average altitude of over 2000m. Tests in Dakar-like conditions in South Africa also proved to be promising with Team Principal, Glyn Hall stating that the performance was “highly encouraging” and that they have “unlocked even more potential in the four-wheel-drive Toyota Hilux.”
While a two-wheel drive Hilux was experimented with, TGRSA found that the four-wheel-drive was overall more reliable, better equipped and better suited for the demands of the rally.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa will be entering two teams into the 2017 Dakar Rally. The teams are made up of Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah with French navigator Matthieu Baumel in #301 and South African driver Giniel de Villiers with German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz in #302.
De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz have raced together for Toyota since 2012, finishing on the podium in all but one attempts. The pair won the event together in 2009 and De Villiers has proven himself to be a viable asset to the team as he has only missed out on a top 10 finish once since he began taking on the race in 2003. This will be Al-Attiyah’s first year with Toyota, however he has enjoyed great success in the Dakar Rally, earning first place in both 2011 and 2015 and hopes to emulate this success once again in the 2017 rally.
The upgraded car has proven to be successful under the wings of Al-Attiyah and Baumel having won races in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Italy, Poland, Spain and Morocco as part of their FIA Cross Country Really World Cup defense this year.
TEAM LAND CRUISER TOYOTA AUTO BODY
Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body will be driving the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series and will be competing in the production ctlass, due to this, there are harsh restrictions on the modifications available. However this year’s car features remodeled front and rear suspensions and boasts a V8 biodiesel 1VD-FTV engine. The car was tested by driving over 16,000km, this included both the Morocco Desert Challenge rally and the racing in the Silk Way Rally for the first time. The Silk Way Rally takes place over 10,000km, starting in Moscow and ending in Beijing. The cars run on a biodiesel that is a mixture of vegetable oil and algae, which was first used in 2007. The cleanliness and performance have steadily increased alongside the ratio of usage of the fuel. By 2012, both cars entered were 100% fully powered by biodiesel for the entirety of the rally and the cars to be entered for the 2017 rally will be no different.
The entry of the Land Cruiser to the Dakar Rally is part of the effort by Toyota to create Ever-Better Cars. This is the initiative run by Toyota wherein they test road cars in harsh environments, so that they can make overall improvements to the cars. The thought is that you learn much more about a car by pushing it to its limits rather than just driving it on a test track. Toyota is currently involved in the yearly 5 Continents Drive Project wherein Toyota takes a number of their cars to the harshest environments in five different continents across the globe, with this year taking part in South America.
Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto body will also be entering two teams into the 2017 Dakar Rally. The teams are made up of French driver Christian Lavieille and navigator Jean-Pierre Garcin in #327 and Japanese Toyota Auto Body employee driver Akira Miura with French navigator Laurent Lichtleuchter in #332. While it is Christian Lavieille’s first year with Team Land Cruiser, he is a Dakar veteran having first appeared in the 2006 rally, where he has since been a consistent top 20 driver since. Navigator Jean-Pierre Garcin has raced with Toyota since 2000 and has achieved great success with 6 victories in its category. Akira Miura first participated in the rally in 2007 appearing many times as a navigator and drove the rally for the first time in 2016, overall earning victories in his class twice all while working his regular job at Toyota Auto Body. This will be his second year driving with navigator Laurent Lichtleuchter, who will race his second Dakar Rally with Toyota and seventh rally overall.
TOYOTA SOUTH AFRICA
Senior Manager: Promotions & Events | Toyota South Africa Motors (Pty) Ltd
Tel: +27 11 809 2178
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/toyotasouthafrica
Information date: 17 May 2017