SA Dakar team warming up in Namibian dunes

16 September 2021 | Sports

The Toyota Dakar Rally racing team, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa (TGRSA) arrived in Walvis Bay via Walvis Bay International Airport on Wednesday.

A source confirmed that the team is once again on a highly secretive mission which involves them testing new vehicles at a stretch of dunes in the location of Sandwich harbour on the outskirts of the harbour town until Friday, in preparation of the next edition of the Dakar Rally.

“They are here to work and do not want to be bothered. All they want to do is drive.”

The experienced racers in the team consist of the drivers Nasser Al-Attiyah (Dakar Rally winner in 2011, 2015, 2019 and FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies Winner in 2008, 2015, 2016, 2017) from Qatar, Giniel de Villiers (Dakar Rally winner in 2009 and Rally of Morocco winner in 2003, 2006, 2007, 2019) from South Africa, Shameer Variawa (South African Off-Road Champion in 2000) from South Africa and Henk Lategan (South African Cross-Country Champion in 2019 and 2020), also from South Africa.

The navigators are Mathieu Baumel (Dakar Rally winner 2015 and 2019) and FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies Winner (2015, 2016, 2017) from France, Alex Haro Bravo (Dakar Rally 2nd place in 2019) from Spain and Dennis Murphy (South African Cross-Country navigator champion in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2018) and Brett Cummings (Dakar Rally winner in 2012, South African Cross-Country navigator champion (2019, 2020) from South Africa and 2nd place finisher in the Malle Moto, Dakar 2014 from South Africa.

Toyota entered four South African-built and developed Toyota Hilux vehicles in the 2021 edition of the Dakar Rally.
Al-Attiyah and Baumel (No. 301) finished in 2nd position in a time of +13min 51sec. The pair trailed rally winner Stéphane Peterhansel by 13 min 51 sec after twelve competitive stages with a total timed race distance of 4 400 kilometres.
De Villiers and Haro (No. 304) finished 8th in a time of +3 hr 57 min 39 sec with Variawa and Murphy (No. 330) finishing in the 21st position in a time of +8 hr 42 min 39 sec.

In total, Toyota Hilux entries topped eight out of the 12 stages at the 2021 Dakar Rally.

Known for being the toughest rally in the world, the Dakar is famous for its desert, mud and mountain pass racing ,with more than half of the vehicles usually failing to finish the race.

Proud racing history

Since 1979, when 13 of the 74 vehicles that finished were Toyotas, every Dakar has had Toyota vehicles racing in them.
The official Toyota team, TGRSA first entered the T1 (Improved Cross-Country Vehicles) class in 2012 with their Toyota Hilux, and since then the TGRSA Hilux has performed well, earning a spot in the Top 10 every year. Since 2020, the team continues to strive as restructured into a works team of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing.

2022 Edition

On 11 May this year, rally organiser A.S.O. (Amaury Sport Organisation) announced the 2022 Dakar Rally outline, saying the next rally would be held in Saudi Arabia for a third time between 2 and 14 January, for a period of 13 days with a total of twelve stages.

Details regarding routes and camp locations are expected to be announced by the end of November.
The rally will be starting in northern Saudi Arabia from Ha’il with a rest day in the capital, Riyadh.

The organiser also announced the route would be finishing in the city of Jeddah which overlooks the Red Sea and is also where the rally started and finished for the 2021 edition.

The first half of the 2022 rally will head south from Ha’il to the main stage, which will be held at the Empty Quarter (a vast area of empty land) in the Rub' al Khali desert.

Three stages are planned to take place on 100% sand dune terrain, and the marathon stage where mechanics are prohibited from providing maintenance and spare parts, is also set to take place on the dunes.

The dunes continue in the second half, which is sure to be difficult stages for the navigators.

About 80% of the routes are entirely new from last year’s rally, and there was an announcement about two locations that have been prepared as loop stages.

Drivers will come from over 50 countries and fight it out against the elements while being watched by one billion viewers in 190 countries.

Additional Sources: TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and TOYOTA AUTO BODY Co

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