Toyota's new Dakar Rally challenger fared well in its first shakedown test conducted near the Tarlton International Raceway on Sunday, November 11, 2012.The latest off-road racing version of the Toyota Hilux completed around 50 laps of a four-kilometre course carved out of the veld.TOUGH TESTCurrent South African off-road championship leaders Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, who finished 10th overall in the 2012 Dakar Rally, provided the feedback. Toyota Motorsport boss Glyn Hall said: “We’re very happy and relieved to have completed this initial shakedown of our new racing Hilux. "The Hilux ran without any problems and initial feedback from the crew is very positive. All systems ran without a glitch and we were able to gather sufficient data to move on to the next stage. “It was all about getting a feel for the new Hilux, making sure that everything works and preparing ourselves for the first proper test with the full back-up team in attendance. This will take place later this week at Tarlton and Giniel (De Villiers) will fly up from Cape Town to drive.”UPGRADED HILUXDe Villiers and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, were third overall in the 2012 Dakar Rally and will crew the evo Hilux in the 2013 race. Vos and Howie will be in an upgraded version of their 2012 Hilux. Hall said: “We’ve completely stripped and rebuilt Duncan’s Hilux and incorporated as many of the evo’s improvements as we could. We will use the final round of the SA Off-Road Car championship to give both Dakar Toyotas a thorough test before we partially disassemble them for shipment by SAA to South America in the middle of December (2012).“The new Hilux is now probably 80% the same as when it finished the Dakar. The five-litre version of Toyota’s latest technology all-aluminium V8 engine develops more torque than this year’s (2012) 4.6-litre version. This gives better sand performance, but surprisingly makes little difference on gravel. The extra 40kg puts us in a higher weight category, but doesn’t seem to hamper performance too much. “Changes we’ve made since the Dakar and tested in our national championship have made it a little easier to drive, we’ve got better traction out of the corners, better turn-in and a better ride. “Although we’re proud of what we achieved in Dakar 2012, we’ve got to do better in 2013 and that’s a big challenge. There are a lot of good teams we have to beat and the competition is very strong," Hall concluded.