Toyota is almost ready to battle with the Pug in Dakar, this time using only two wheels.
DAKAR racing teams are preparing for a big race come December, fettling new race machines that range from trucks to quad bikes.
The main stage, however, belongs to the race cars, and this year all eyes are on the reigning Red Bull Pug and the allnew Hilux challenger.
The Pug that Team Peugeot Total and Red Bull will ship to South America in a few weeks for the 2017 Dakar car is officially called the 3008 DKR.
It has more torque at lower revs, a revised suspension and a new black-andwhite wardrobe than the 2008 in which Peugeot won the 2016 Dakar with Stéphane Peterhansel and the Silk Way Rally last month, with Cyril Despres at the wheel.
Peugeot said in a statement the latest Peugeot has tweaked suspension and damper settings and the drivers can now stay cool with air-con in the 3008 DKR.
“Air conditioning may sound like an unnecessary luxury in a race car, but Peugeot believes it will help team members perform at a higher level while doing 12hour stints inside a cockpit that regularly spikes over 60°C,” the statement read.
New engine regulations also means Peugeot has to drop down from a 39 mm to a 38 mm unit, losing about 20 kW in the process. Peugeot said its reworked three-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel engine now makes more torque at lower revs, which should make the car easier to drive and possibly faster on the rough Dakar course.
In the Toyota corner, the drivers for Toyota Gazoo Racing, however, think their racing bakkies will benefit more this year from Dakar restrictor regulations.
Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz last month tested the new two-wheel-drive racing Hiluxes, which are built near the Kyalami Racetrack, in the North West.
The new vehicle no longer uses a fourwheel-drive system, and it is going to very interesting to see if the team’s gamble with rear-wheel-drive-only pays off.
The all-wheel-drive systems currently rule the cross country roost in the local Donaldson Cross Country Championship, with Leeroy Poulter and navigator Rob Howie leading the championship. Team principal Glyn Hall said results of the first real-world test for the rearwheel-drive Toyota Hilux Evo were highly encouraging.
“The new vehicle is significantly faster over the rough stuff,” said De Villiers at the completion of the test session. “Granted, it takes some getting used to, and it certainly doesn’t feel the same as the four-wheel-drive. But man, it is quick!”
Team Toyota Gazoo racing still have a lot of tests to do and are cutting it fine before the SAA Cargo plane flies to deliver three new racing Hiluxes to De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz; Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie; as well as the new signings, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel.
GINIEL DE VILLIERS Toyota Gazoo Racing driver ‘The new vehicle is significantly faster over the rough stuff.’
In the Toyota corner, the new rear-wheel-drive Hilux has already proven lighter and a lot faster.
In the Peugeot corner, the 3008 DKR, tweaked to be stronger and maybe a lot faster than the 2016 winner.