Toy­ota’s Hilux team heads for Dakar again

THE MO­TOR­SPORT LAP/ Three-ve­hi­cle con­tin­gent seek­ing elu­sive win in world’s tough­est of­froad race

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA’s team for next month’s 2019 Dakar Rally has been an­nounced, and a three-car team will take the lat­est evo­lu­tion of the Toy­ota Hilux to South Amer­ica.

Vet­eran race driver Giniel de Villiers will once more at­tempt to win the race at the wheel of a Toy­ota, while long-time nav­i­ga­tor, Ger­man Dirk von Zitze­witz, will again pace the South African to mount a win­ning chal­lenge against 2018 win­ners Car­los Sainz and Lu­cas Cruz. Sainz, who won the Dakar with Peu­geot last year, ar­rives at the start in Lima, Peru, at the wheel of the X Raid Mini JCW team.

The other two South African­built Hiluxes will be crewed by Qatar’s Nasser Al At­tiyah with French co-driver Mathieu Baumel, and Dutch­man Bern­hard ten Brinke with French nav­i­ga­tor Xavier Panseri, the lat­ter mov­ing to Toy­ota af­ter Peu­geot’s exit from the Dakar.

The stiffest com­pe­ti­tion to the trio of Toy­ota Hiluxes is the Mini of­fen­sive, which brings five cars with some se­ri­ous wheels­men at their helms. Apart from Sainz, there is also leg­endary Stephane Peter­hansel, who fin­ished fourth over­all be­hind De Villiers last year, and the wily Nani Roma to con­tend with.

The Hilux has achieved a num­ber of podium po­si­tions since its Dakar de­but in 2012 but has yet to win the world’s tough­est of­froad race.

The lat­est evo­lu­tion of the Toy­ota Hilux saw a ma­jor re­vamp in 2018 when it was up­dated with a mid-en­gine lay­out and new sus­pen­sion ge­om­e­try. Fur­ther re­fine­ments to the en­gine, sus­pen­sion and over­all weight of the car were per­formed dur­ing 2018 but the 37mm air in­take re­stric­tor rule amend­ments will be a key fac­tor in Dakar 2019.

“The FIA has been work­ing hard to try to bal­ance the per­for­mance of the tur­bod­ieselpow­ered cars [in­clud­ing the Minis] and the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V8s, such as ours,” ex­plains Glyn Hall, Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing team man­ager. “This is an on­go­ing process, and while nei­ther camp will prob­a­bly ever be en­tirely happy with the rules, we have no choice but to abide by their rules. The smaller re­stric­tor is sure to count against us some­what this year, but with the lower al­ti­tudes of Peru, we may just have enough grunt to make it work re­gard­less.”

Other com­peti­tors who will fly the South African flag in the 2019 Dakar rally in­clude Joz­i­born and Dubai res­i­dent Shameer Vari­awa with co-pilot Za­heer Bod­hanya driv­ing a Nis­san Navara in the car class; and Stu­art Gre­gory (KTM 450 EXC) and Ken­neth Gil­bert (Husq­varna FR 450) in the mo­tor­cy­cle class.

The Dakar Rally runs from Jan­uary 6-17. It will take place in only one coun­try for the first time in its his­tory, with Peru the sole host na­tion for the event.

GLOBAL RAC­ING SE­RIES FOR WOMEN

More than 100 ap­pli­cants world­wide have sought to join a new all-fe­male mo­tor rac­ing se­ries aimed at get­ting them into For­mula One, where no woman has com­peted since 1976.

Or­gan­is­ers have is­sued a list of 55 en­trants who will be whit­tled down to 18 driv­ers for the W Se­ries, which is set to launch in May 2018. The driv­ers will be rac­ing 1.8l For­mula Three cars for a $1.5m prize fund.

The driv­ers, whose ages range from 17 to 33 and in­clude some fa­mil­iar names to fans who fol­low the var­i­ous ju­nior se­ries, now face on and off-track tests, with for­mer grand prix rac­ers David Coulthard and Alex Wurz among the judges.

Spain’s ex-Lo­tus and Re­nault For­mula One de­vel­op­ment driver Car­men Jorda, 30, who also sits on the gov­ern­ing FIA’s women’s com­mis­sion, was one to go on to the next phase.

Amna al-Qubaisi, 18, the first fe­male rac­ing driver from the UAE who has com­peted in Ital­ian For­mula Four and will test a For­mula E car in Saudi Ara­bia next month, was an­other.

So too was Bri­tain’s Jamie Chad­wick, 20, who in 2015 be­came the first fe­male driver to win a British GT cham­pi­onship and this year be­came the first woman to win a round of the British For­mula Three se­ries, fin­ish­ing eighth over­all.

In­dian rac­ers Mira Erda, 18, and Sneha Sharma, 28, also made the ini­tial list.

The W Se­ries or­gan­is­ers say they hope to pro­vide a plat­form for women to de­velop their skills be­fore tak­ing on male driv­ers fur­ther up the mo­tor­sport lad­der. The first race is in Hock­en­heim, Ger­many, on May 3 and the over­all se­ries win­ner will take $500,000, with prize money down to 18th place.

MO­TOGP CHANGES RULE FOR FALLEN RIDERS

Mo­toGP riders can be clas­si­fied as race fin­ish­ers in fu­ture even if they and their mo­tor­cy­cles cross the line sep­a­rately, the sport’s gov­ern­ing body (FIM) has de­clared. Un­der pre­vi­ous rules, riders had to be still on their ma­chines at the che­quered flag to fin­ish and score points but the FIM’s Grand Prix Com­mis­sion de­cided a change was needed.

“There have been sit­u­a­tions when, due to a crash, the rider and ma­chine have crossed the line sep­a­rately,” the In­ter­na­tional Motorcycling Fed­er­a­tion said in a state­ment. “In fu­ture the fin­ish time will be de­ter­mined by the first part of the rider or his mo­tor­cy­cle, whichever crosses the fin­ish line last.”

Dutch Moto3 en­trant Bo Bend­sney­der fell me­tres from the fin­ish at his home grand prix at Assen last year and was dis­qual­i­fied from 10th place be­cause his KTM skid­ded across the line ahead of him.

De­spite a string of podi­ums the SA-built Toy­ota Hilux has yet to win the Dakar Rally. Could 2019 be its year?

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