Team Hilux Rally-Raid is a newly formed privateer rally team set to take the fight to the big boys in South African Cross-Country Rally.
Malalane and Komatipoort, deep within the Mpumalanga lowveld came alive this past week as a trio of Hilux Rally trucks took to the streets of these small towns to launch an all-new team: Team Hilux Rally-Raid is the newest team formed to fight in the T1 and T1+ categories of the South African Rally Raid Championship.
The 3-car Hilux Rally-Raid sees winning experience join forces with new-to-rally contenders. Leading the trio is the Malalane-based pairing of Johan and Werner Horn. The brothers have been competing in cross-country rally for over a decade now and are no strangers to the higher echelons of competition. The big news now, is that the pair have upgraded their wheels and race category into the T1+ big-hitters. Their new T1+ Hilux is of the same ilk as the Toyota Gazoo Racing factory teams and given their years of experience in the Class T Hilux, driver Johan Horn was quietly confident they could take the fight to the much larger, financially-backed factory teams. “Those guys are really good, but at least we now have the same tools and we’ll do what we can to stick with them or capitalise on their mistakes if there is an opportunity.”
Werner and Johan have multiple championships under their belt, in various categories. Winning isn’t foreign to them. Launching their new team and their new rally truck is something they’ve been looking at doing for a while now. Getting to grips with the new regulation truck has been immensely satisfying for both the driver Johan and navigator, Werner Horn. “The biggest difference with this new car is the balance and control we have especially over the really rough terrain. It’s very very different.” The new T1+ regulations have seen the suspension travel increased from the previous Class T Hilux. The wheel are also larger and this helps to tackle harder terrain with more aggression. Further to this, there have been changes to the overall layout and design of the car and the old V8 has been swopped for a 3.5-litre, V6 unit that develops similar power and torque but with the torque arriving lower down the rev range than before.
Sporting car number 301, Eben Basson and navigator Leander Pienaar make up another race duo within Team Hilux Rally-Raid. The pair have contested rally in various forms and categories, and now are looking to go a step further and fight for honours in the T1 category, just one category below the top-spec T1+ class.
The newest pairing of Team Hilux Rally-Raid is another team of brothers Fouche and Bertus Blignaut. The Witbank/Emalahleni-based team are newbies to cross-country rally and will compete in their first event on 24 June in Upington. They present a confident front and are looking to go out there and have a great time, before anything else. Navigator Bertus Blignaut told TopGear SA, “we’re new yes, but do we look scared?. No. We’re going to go out there and just have fun, one day at a time.”
Driver Fouche is equally in positive spirits having done some testing over the last few weeks with his new T1 Hilux.
The next race on the Rally-Raid calendar is the TGRSA 1000 Desert Race taking placing in Upington from 24 – 26 June. This also forms part of the Road to Dakar event where winning contenders from the TGRSA 1000 Desert Race, will win entry and some financial assistance to go to Dakar in 2023. There are some T’s and C’s to this, i.e. winners must be Dakar novices, but it’s a great step up into the toughest race of its kind.
All of Team Hilux Rally-Raid is on the entry list for the Desert Race in the Northern Cape.