Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa team principal Glyn Hall believes the T1+ regulations introduced on this year’s Dakar Rally played a ‘critical’ role in Toyota’s first event victory since 2019.
Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel picked up their third Dakar success together – Al-Attiyah’s fourth overall – in Jeddah on Friday following a dominant display in Saudi Arabia.
It is Toyota’s second triumph on the iconic rally raid, having finished second for the previous two editions.
The team’s 4×4 Hilux had struggled with significantly more punctures than the rival buggies that ran at the front of the car class before, resulting in calls for the Dakar’s organizers, the ASO, to change the technical regulations in order to bring performance levels closer together.
This included increased suspension travel and bigger wheels to alleviate the risk of punctures, while also providing additional safety measures.
Hall reckons that without these new regulations, Al-Attiyah’s 2022 victory would not have been possible.
“It’s exactly what we needed,” Hall told DirtFish. “It was absolutely critical that the new regulations came in when they did for us. They really are the future of cross-country, no question.
“The T1-Ultimate class which Audi is in, is a bit of a concern as the whole thing is a bit cloudy on where the performance levels of these cars need to be. But for us and the T1+, it’s absolutely fantastic.”
Proof, for Hall, that the new regulations worked was that every Toyota Hilux finished the event, with the team scoring the most stage wins with six, courtesy of Al-Attiyah, Henk Lategan and Giniel de Villiers.
And it wasn’t just the TGR SA-prepared cars that made the end of the mammoth endure, Belgian team Overdrive also managed a 100% finishing rate with its seven Hilux machines.
“We have not only got four new cars in South Africa with the turbo engine, plus one with the V8, to the finish, but we also had our partners Overdrive Racing in Belgium running seven cars,” added Hall.
“So, in total, all 11 of our cars got to the finish, which is testament [to the regulations] and to the effort of all involved.”
Hall also says that the Dakar has returned to “proper racing” following what he labelled as ‘chaos’ caused by a high puncture rate in the past.
“The punctures were really a bit of a lottery in the last couple of years. Make no bones about it, we need sportsmen to be able to race on equal terms and then it’s down to the team to prepare the car and drivers to drive them.
“The punctures were chaos. Last year, we nearly lost BF Goodrich from the sport because of it, and you can’t blame them. And honestly, now, it’s back to proper racing.”
Event winner Al-Attiyah added that victory in Saudi Arabia was “very important” to the team, particularly given the expedited design and build done on the GR Hilux DKR T1+ since the previous Dakar.
To build this car in one year and come here and win this race has not been easy but we had no problems all rallyNasser Al-Attiyah
“It was an unbelievable Dakar for us, our last victory was in 2019 and we are really satisfied with the new T1+ regulations,” Al-Attiyah said at the finish.
“There are three different teams that are capable of winning now, but we did a good job; myself, Mathieu, the team, we are always in good shape, so we are quite happy with this result, it was very important for us.
“To build this car in one year and come here and win this race has not been easy but we had no problems all rally, I was really careful because I knew that it was a new car. But we have a strong car, and we will do our best for the championship now.”