4WDrive - - Pre­view -

here seems to be a chang­ing of the guard in the rugged sport of Rally Raid. Iron­i­cally, rally raid ve­hi­cles are de­signed specif­i­cally to race across the desert for up to two weeks straight - a task best han­dled with all four wheels putting power to the ground. How­ever, the once dom­i­nant 4WDs are slowly re­lin­quish­ing their po­si­tion as the top spec com­pe­ti­tion ve­hi­cles in the sport.

Un­til 2016, only three 2WD ve­hi­cles have ever won the iconic Dakar rally, a Re­nault 20 in 1982, and two Sch­lesser bug­gies in 1999 and 2000. Other than these three cir­cum­stances, 4WD Peu­geots, Citroens, Porsches, Mit­subishis, Volk­swa­gens and Mi­nis have dom­i­nated the desert clas­sic.

Then came the re­turn of Peu­geot in 2015. In­stead of build­ing the clas­sic T1 Class 4WD rally raid ve­hi­cle like ev­ery­one else, Peu­geot showed up in Ar­gentina with the 2008 DKR, a 2WD buggy loosely re­sem­bling the car­maker's pro­duc­tion CUV. A year later in 2016, the 2008 DKR would be­come the first 2WD ve­hi­cle to win the Dakar in 16 years.

Fast for­ward to the present and the Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing South Africa team (peren­nial Dakar podium fin­isher) has just pulled the cov­ers off their lat­est rac­ing ma­chine, sur­pris­ing fans by chang­ing the pop­u­lar Toy­ota Hilux from a 4WD spec ve­hi­cle to 2WD, dub­bing the new racer the Hilux EVO.

So, why are in­ter­na­tional rally raid ve­hi­cles ditch­ing 4WD for 2WD? Well, the an­swer is pretty sim­ple re­ally, the re­lax­ing of the rule­book for the 2WD class has al­lowed team en­gi­neers much more flex­i­bil­ity to build a ve­hi­cle that more than makes up for the lack of two ex­tra wheels grab­bing at the desert sand.

The 2WD buggy class al­lows for larger 37" tires, lower weight re­stric­tions, a larger air re­stric­tor on the en­gine and more free­dom in en­gine place­ment and sus­pen­sion ge­om­e­try. The re­sult, Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing now has a Hilux that weighs in at 1,300 kg, 615 kg lighter than its pre­de­ces­sor. The 5.0L V-8, lifted from the Lexus

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