Toyota clears latest Dakar hurdle
The two Imperial Toyota Hilux bakkies that will contest the 2012 Dakar Rally have met a key deadline in their race preparations.
The bakkies are on their way to Buenos Aires in Argentina, along with four tons of parts and equipment, after the Toyota Motorsport team met a South African Airways deadline for collection. SAA was to fly the cargo to Argentina for the start of the Dakar Rally on January 1, 2012.
Rob Howie, a co-driver in the event, said: "It’s been a wild ride already. Once the official announcement was made at the Johannesburg International Motor Show that Toyota Motorsport would contest the Dakar we’ve been flat-out preparing the Proudly South African racing Toyotas for this great adventure.
TESTS AND SHAKEDOWNS
"In between, both bakkies have competed in the final two rounds of the South African Off-Road championship and in five days of testing in the sand dunes of the Namib Desert. That was a major logistical exercise on its own.
"We had a final shakedown test at the RallyStar facility near Bapsfontein of both trucks and a third Hilux we have built for an Argentine privateer. All three drivers - Giniel de Villiers, Duncan Vos and privateer Lucio Alvarez - were on hand and completed around 50km without any problems."
Howie is the co-driver for Vos on their first Dakar. De Villiers’ and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz of Germany won the Dakar Rally in South America in 2009.
SOUTH AMERICA BECKONS
The South African team will now have a few weeks to spend with their families before flying to Buenos Aires on December 26.
Once in Argentina, the vehicles will be reassembled at the Toyota Argentina plant 100km north of Buenos Aires, before a pre-race hakedown at the automaker’s local test track on December 28.
The vehicles will be transported 450km to the Argentine resort city of Mar del Plata on December 29, ahead of scrutineering there on December 31.
The 8300-km Dakar Rally will be run through three countries in 15 days, starting on January 1, 2012, and cross South America from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean.