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