Toyota crews do well in Morocco
ZAGORA, MOROCCO — The opening stage (October 5th) of the 2015 Rally of Morocco proved a tough challenge for the Toyota SA Dakar Team.
Giniel de Villiers and German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz (Toyota Hilux) had a drive shaft problem at the start, forcing them to complete the 330 km stage near the city of Zagora with only rear-wheel-drive.
Team-mates Leeroy Poulter/ Rob Howie, driving an older specification Toyota Hilux, lost time in thick dust, after catching one of the competitors who started ahead of them. “Even so, Leeroy and Rob drove extremely well, and were third-fastest at the first checkpoint,” explains Toyota SA Dakar Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “They ended the day in sixth place, which sets them up nicely for Stage 2.”
Despite their problems, De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz drove well to finish in ninth place, 12:12 behind early rally leaders, Yazeed Al-Rajhi and navigator Timo Gottschalk (Toyota Hilux). The Saudi driver and his German navigator finished the opening stage with a lead of 17 seconds.
“Overall, Toyota enjoyed a good opening day,” continues Hall. “We’ve got Yazeed leading, with Russia’s Vladimir Vasiliyev in second place.”
Ricardo Porem (Portugal) and navigator Jorge Monteiro is in fifth place, also in a Toyota Hilux, and they are followed by Poulter/Howie in sixth. Multiple WRC Champion, Sebastien Loeb and navigator Daniel Elena (Peugeot) lost more than three hours on the opening stage, after their new vehicle ran into technical difficulties.
But that is the nature of cross-country racing, which the Rally of Morocco mixes with the best elements of rally racing to make life extra challenging for drivers. The Rally has timed stages where drivers race, and open road sections where they do not race against the clock, but still have to depart at set times to avoid time penalties.
Fans can follow the fortunes of the Toyota SA Dakar team by visiting www.toyota.co.za, or on @toyotaSA on Twitter. — WR.
Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie set the third fastest time driving in Morocco in their older specification Toyota Hilux, they were slowed only by thick dust on the first day of racing.