24 January 2014
TOYOTA HILUX TAKES 1-2-3 PLACING AT DAKAR
Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz piloted their HiLux to victory in the 13th and 14th (final) stages, achieving a class victory for the event and earning them fourth place overall in the car category.
The toughness of HiLux, its drivers and team was put to the test over 9200 kilometres and 13 days of rugged South American terrain, which included the ravines of the Sierras Pampeanas, high altitudes and temperatures of the Atacama Desert, and a stage in the driest region in the world – Antofagasta in Chile.
De Villiers and von Zitzewitz completed the event, which started in Argentina and finished in Chile, in a time of 52:04:05 – less than two hours behind the overall winner.
Their HiLux, which competed in the Petrol 4×4 Improved Cross-Country class, is modified from standard with a five-litre V8 engine.
The bespoke unit produces 310kW and 500Nm of torque at a relaxed engine speed of just 2000rpm – useful when negotiating sand dunes and water crossings.
The HiLux also has numerous suspension, body, interior and driveline modifications over the standard vehicle, as well as a new addition for 2014 – a custom air conditioning system to help the drivers remain focused at critical moments.
The 2014 event was the toughest in years according to De Villiers, who began competing in the Dakar Rally in 2003.
“We had an amazing Dakar this year,” de Villiers said.
“The team did a great job to get everything up and running and we got tremendous reliability from the HiLux.”
Placing second and third in the same class were two more Toyotas.
The HiLux of Marek Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor (who have both raced motorcycles at Dakar in the past) came in second, with a time of 56:19:23.
Ex-Olympic ski jumper Adam Malysz and co-driver Rafal Marton took their HiLux to third place in the class, posting a time of 60:43:29.