A notable South African export achievement happened last week with the airfreighting of an off road racing Toyota Hilux Double Cab from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to Europe for its new owner, the Belgian team Overdrive.
The lightweight V8-engined 4×4 Hilux has been built to the latest Dakar Rally specifications and will compete in the 33rd edition of this legendary marathon off road race to be held in Argentina, Chile and Peru from January 1 to 14 in 2012. It will be in the hands of top Argentine Rally Raid driver Orlando Terranova.
It has been built by the talented and internationally renowned team of Glyn Hall at his Hallspeed workshops, the home of Toyota Motorsport in South Africa, in Johannesburg. Hall, contracted by Toyota South Africa to manage the company’s motor sport programme, which includes the domestic off road and rally championships, has been building cars for the Dakar Rally since 2002 and has already enjoyed considerable success.
Next year’s Dakar Rally will see four locally-built Toyota Hilux Double Cabs competing in the premier class T1. In addition to the Terranova entry, a second customer vehicle is under construction in the Hallspeed workshops for Argentine Lucio Alvarez (it will be shipped to Argentina in November).
The first two V8 Hilux pickups built at the Hallspeed workshops in Barbecue Downs workshop, within earshot of the Kyalami grand prix circuit, will be in the hands of South Africa’s 2009 Dakar Winner and 2001 national off road champion Giniel de Villiers and four-time national off road champion Duncan Vos. They will make up the Imperial Toyota South Africa Team, a proudly South African entry backed by local companies Imperial Toyota, Duxbury Netgear and the Innovation Group.
De Villiers, who will be competing in his 10th Dakar Rally and first in a Toyota, will be paired with German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, who navigated the South African to his historic Dakar victory as well as second place in the 2011 Dakar.
Reading the route notes for Vos will be his regular national championship co-driver Rob Howie, who is general manager of Hallspeed and Toyota Motorsport. The pair is currently lying joint second in the domestic championship with two rounds remaining. They will be competing in their first Dakar Rally.
These two pickups made their debut in this year’s domestic Absa Off Road Car Championship in the colours of Toyota Motorsport’s Castrol Team Toyota, with Vos and co-driver Rob Howie in one and circuit racing champion Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin in the other. There are still two rounds of the championship remaining, the Human Auto 400 in the Bloemfontein area on October 14 and 15 and the season-ending RFS Magalies 400 in the Tarlton area on November 11 and 12.
Immediately after the final round Hall’s team will set to work completing preparations of the two vehicles for shipment directly to South America. “We still have to re-build the vehicles and fit many specific parts and equipment to prepare the cars for the Dakar like the on board hydraulic jack system. Like much of the vehicle, this was designed and built in South Africa,” said Hall.
“We’re very proud of the mostly South African local content of our racing Hilux. Apart from the Group N engine, which is a standard production 4,6-litre all-aluminium V8 made by Toyota in Japan and fitted with a 35 mm restrictor to meet Dakar regulations, and the French-built Sadev 6-speed sequential gearbox, almost all the other components have been built in South Africa.
“A new feature on the Terranova car is a rear-mounted radiator which we fabricated using two production Toyota Land Cruiser cores. The braking system was specially made for us by Power Brake and has 320 x 32 mm ventilated discs all round and 6-piston calipers front and rear,” Hall added.
The double cab passenger cell itself is made of South African steel in the Toyota assembly plant in Durban, while the front and rear panels and bonnet are locally made from lightweight composite materials. The specially designed exhaust system is handmade.
The vehicle is left-hand drive to conform with overseas export market requirements. The Reiger shock absorbers from Holland give the vehicle a regulation 300 mm of wheel travel at the rear and 250 mm at the front. The suspension and live axle were designed and custom made in South Africa. Ground clearance is 300 mm and the vehicle conforms to the 1 937 kg weight class with two spare wheels fitted at the back. Special Rally Raid competition tyres are made by BF Goodrich.
The Dakar Rally will start in the Argentine seaside resort of Mar del Plata on the Atlantic coast of South America and will finish almost 9 000 km later in the Peruvian capital Lima on the Pacific coast on January 15. In between will be five racing special stages in Argentina, a crossing of the Andes Mountains, five stages in Chile including a crossing of the Atacama Desert before a rest day on January 8 in the Chilean town of Copiapo. Then, for the first time, the rally enters Peru for four stages and a ceremonial finish.