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Dakar: SA Toyota team good to go

2014-01-04 13:07

READY TO RACE:Toyota SA/s Hilux crews have done their shake-down drives in Argentina after fettling at the brand's local plant. Let battle commence... Image: MARC BOW

ZARATE, Argentina - The countdown to the 36th Dakar Rally is almost over – the start will be in Rosario, Argentina, on Sunday and the Toyota SA team is good to go.

The team reports a hot-and-hectic few days since flying in to into Buenos Aires from Johannesburg on December 29. Technicians have been working in Toyota Argentina’s plant in Zarate, 100km from Buenos Aires, in heat-wave conditions above 40 degrees since their arrival.

They have to deal with nine tons of spares and equipment to be carried in support trucks for the 14-day race and both Hilux’s have successfully completed a day of shake-down testing in Zarate.

'BUILD-UP IS OVER'

“We’re good to go,” declared team manager Glyn Hall. “The lads have been extremely busy since arriving and everything has gone according to plan.  The test went very well and both drivers are happy and ready for Sunday’s opening stage.

“We just have scrutineering and documentation to complete on Saturday and then the long build-up is over.  We’re well prepared and we all feel good about the challenge ahead.”

2009 Dakar winners Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in the #302 Hilux will start Sunday’s opening special stage third behind former winners Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean Paul Cottret of France in a Mini and Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar and Lucas Cruz of Spain in another Mini.

South African’s Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie (#323 Hilux) will start 23rd.

Privateers and Dakar rookies Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr (Hilux #404), the vehicle in which Villiers and Zitzewitz finished second in the 2013 Dakar, will start 103rd.

Sunday’s stage will involve a 629km liaison followed by a 180km special stage that will end in San Luis. The early start will send the competitors off along the road in the region of Cordoba and on the stage they will encounter narrow tracks, stony sections and blind jumps that will require some vigilance and will set them up nicely for the long haul in the days ahead.

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