Toyota’s Dakar results
When your chief opposition – Peugeot - claims a podium clean sweep at this year’s Dakar Rally in South America you could be forgiven for slipping away and licking your wounds. Not Toyota.
Instead, the Japanese carmaker has come out accentuating the positive with its tough-as V8-powered, South Africa-built Hilux 4x4s utes.
Spaniards Nani Roma and co-driver Alex Haro Bravo (# 305) finished fourth and won the Improved Production class in a double cab Hilux with the similar ute # 302 of South Africans Giniel de Villiers, and Dirk von Zitzewitz reaching the Buenos Aires finish in fifth place.
“We are happy to be in the top ten,” said von Zitzewitz. “We have learnt a lot about the 4WD Hilux and there is room for improvement.”
Meanwhile, in the Standard Production Diesel class Frenchmen Christian Lavielle and Pierre Garcin took the class laurels in # 327 with Akira Muira (Japan) and Laurent Lichtleuchter ( France) runners-up. Both crews were driving Toyota Land Cruisers, for a fourth consecutive class victory for the diesel Land Cruiser.
Starting in Paraguay, this year’s Dakar included high altitude stages in Bolivia over 4000 metres above sea level and several days in the Andes mountains.
Some stages were several hundred kilometres long and required accurate navigation with large numbers of entrants getting lost after taking wrong turns.
The fact that Peugeot dominated one of the toughest Dakars in recent years using hand-built 2WD ( rear) prototypes powered by turbodiesel engines has rung alarm bells around the world and led the FIA to consider a rule change for rally/ raid events which would mandate petrolfuelled 4WDs like the Hilux for the main competition with 2WD prototypes relegated to support class status.
Toyota Gazoo Racing did develop a 2WD version of its V8 Hilux with the 2017 Dakar in mind but in the end decided to run the 4WDs.
Roma, Haro Bravo and crew celebrate.
Spaniards Nani Roma and Alex Haro Bravo finished the 2017 Dakar rally fourth in a Toyota Hilux.
The Standard Production diesel class was won by French pair Christian Lavielle and Pierre Garcin in a Toyota Land Cruiser.