South Africa’s Toyota Motorsport Hilux team, which under the banner of IMPERIAL Toyota distinguished itself by finishing third and 10th in the 2012 Dakar Rally in South America at the team’s first attempt at the world’s longest and toughest motorsport event, will return to South America in January for the 2013 Dakar Rally.
Toyota Motorsport announced today that IMPERIAL Toyota, a part of the Automotive Retail Division of JSE-listed group, IMPERIAL Holdings, has agreed to back the Imperial Hilux teamfor the next three years, covering the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Dakar Rally. The co-sponsors Innovation Group and Duxbury Netgear will again be offering their support.
Giniel de Villiers and Germany’s Dirk von Zitzewitz, who were third overall in the 2012 Dakar Rally in the South African-built Imperial Toyota Hilux, has signed up for the team, and Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, who were 10th overall in their Hilux, will again crew the two vehicles.
“After our great success in the 2012 Dakar Rally, we are very pleased to announce that we will return to the Dakar Rally for the next three years with the Toyota Hilux team backed by IMPERIAL Toyota, Duxbury Netgear and the Innovation Group,” said Dr Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors and a Managing Officer of Toyota Motor Corporation.
“As South Africans, we are very proud of the third and 10th places achieved by the two South African-built Imperial Toyota Hilux bakkies in the hands of our own Giniel de Villiers and Duncan Vos, and also by the fine performance of Argentina’s Lucio Alvarez in the third SA-built Hilux,” said Dr van Zyl.
“We are also very pleased with the enormous amount of publicity that our involvement in the Dakar Rally and our subsequent success generated, not only in South Africa but around the world.
“It is a very important milestone in the building of our brand and it emphatically demonstrated the qualities that make Toyota, and in particular Hilux, so successful in the marketplace. In the next three years, we will be aiming for a win in the most famous off road race in the world with a racing version of the best-selling bakkie in South Africa.”
Since their success in Argentina, Chile and Peru in January, the two Toyota Motorsport Hilux bakkies have been competing successfully in the Absa South African Off-Road Championship in Castrol colours and in the hands of current championship leaders Vos and Howie and current runners-up Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin.
Vos and Howie have won three of the first four rounds of the series, including the last three in succession. Taylor and Birkin were runners-up in two of the rounds, including the recent Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana.
The first real pre-Dakar test for the team took place in mid July the sand dunes of the Namib Desert, where both vehicles and their Dakar Rally crews were in action.