The most successful racing team in South African history is ready for 2018. Toyota Gazoo Racing SA has revealed its latest evolution of the Hilux V8, a machine which finally benefits from fairer regulations for the world’s most challenging race.
For 15 days in January the world’s best off-road racers will battle South America’s most challenging terrain – and each other – to see who is fastest after 10 000km of endurance racing. The terrain is brutal, fatigue numbing and there’s a terrific toil on mechanical components too. It’s the calibre of racing and kind of place where you’d expect South Africans to thrive – and thus far, they have.
Despite a tiny budget, compared to the other teams, Toyota Gazoo South African designed and built bakkies have always been podium contenders at the Dakar. For 2018 the rules are allowing a larger air restrictor, 12% more suspension travel (promising fewer punctures/better traction) and a lower racing mass – which should increase brake life on the longer stages.
“The FIA has been working hard to try and balance the performance of the turbodiesel-powered cars and the naturally aspirated V8s, such as ours,” explains Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “This is an ongoing process, and while neither camp will probably ever be entirely happy with the rules, we are confident that the latest changes give us a better shot at Dakar 2018.”
For 2018 the Dakar will start in Peru, with its huge dunes, before transferring to Bolivia, with its extreme altitudes, before rolling back down in Argentina. The Bolivian stages have always put the naturally-aspirated Hilux V8 at a particular disadvantage, compare to its turbodiesel rivals, but with a larger restrictor, 2018 will see it yield less of a power loss at altitude.
The Hilux V8s have always been crowd favourites in South America, a continent which shares the South African obsession with bakkies. Latin American Dakar fans appreciate the tone of a proper petrol V8 too. For 2018 the three-bakkie Gazoo team will feature former Dakar winner and long-time Hilux lead driver, Giniel de Villiers, the amazingly fast and always entertaining Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah and Dutchman Bernard ten Brinke.