Toyota Gazoo Racing has unveiled its new T1+ car to take on next year’s Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia as well as an unchanged four-car driver line-up.
Three-time Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah will again team up with co-driver Mathieu Baumel, while 2009 victor Giniel de Villiers is joined by Dennis Murphy. Multiple South African Cross-Country Rally Champion Henk Lategan returns for a second Dakar with the team, as does Shameer Variawa, partnered by Brett Cummings and Danie Stassen respectively.
Initial testing of the new Hilux has already started in Namibia – with an interim raw-carbon livery – and TGR South Africa team principal Glyn Hall is pleased with the progress so far.
“Our new GR DKR Hilux T1+ is progressing well, and we are confident that the new car will allow us to compete on a new level, come January,” Hall said.
“We are very pleased to announce a team that is very similar to last year. With Nasser and Giniel heading up our attack, and Henk gaining confidence, we are excited to take on the 2022 edition of the Dakar Rally.”
Conforming to the updated T1+ category regulations, the new-look Hilux features a number of changes to the previous generation of the 4×4 car.
The most notable of these changes comes via the size of the wheels, which has been increased from 32 inches to 37, to fall in line with those seen on the buggy prototypes.
Suspension travel is also modified for T1+ cars and the GR DKR Hilux will benefit from 350mm of travel compared to 280 in previous years. Both Al-Attiyah and de Villiers suffered numerous punctures during the 2021 Dakar, effectively forcing the revamp in the technical regulations.
The biggest unseen modification in the new car will be under the hood, with more engine power permitted courtesy of a 3.5-liter twin-turbo petrol V6 engine, derived from the all-new Land Cruiser 300 GR-S model.
One of the key differences between the 4×4 cars and the buggies has centered on the power outputs, which are generally higher in the buggies, and the latter’s ability to inflate and deflate the tires to gain better traction in the dunes.
For de Villiers, the upgrades to the car should give the team a better chance to compete with the buggies in 2022, something which has proven difficult in previous years.
“The Dakar is one of the toughest races on the planet, but it suits our new Hilux perfectly,” de Villiers said.
“The new wheels, suspension travel and especially the move to the turbo-powered petrol engine from the Land Cruiser, is sure to make a big difference to our campaign.
“The engine is highly responsive and allows us to push the new car to the limit. Saudi has proven to be a worthy host for the race and we expect that this will again be the case in 2022.”
Al-Attiyah’s co-driver Baumel is also keen to avoid the sort of puncture drama that heavily impacted the pair’s fight for victory in 2021, costing them over 20 minutes.
“The new car is very promising,” he explained.
“And if our first tests are anything to go by, the new petrol engine, bigger suspension travel and increased tyre sizes may just bring the additional power, control and puncture-protection that we lacked in the recent past”
The 2022 Dakar Rally takes place between January 2-14.