The countdown to the 34th running of the Dakar Rally is almost over and, with just two days to go to the start in Lima, Peru, on January 5, the Toyota Imperial South Africa team is good to go.
It’s been a hectic few days since the team flew in from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo international airport on December 28. Both Imperial Toyota Hilux 4x4s have been reassembled in Toyota Peru’s workshop since their flight across the Atlantic in an SAA Airbus, the six tons of spares and equipment needed to support the 15-day race have been off loaded and packed into the team’s support trucks and both bakkies have successfully completed two days of shake-down testing.
“We’re good to go,” declared team manager Glyn Hall. “The lads have been extremely busy since arriving here and everything has gone according to plan. The planned test went very well and both drivers are happy and ready for Saturday’s opening stage.
“The test area provided us with just the right terrain – big sand dunes and camel grass and also a 10-kilometre gravel road that included crossing a dry river bed. We worked through the tests we had planned and found the best settings. The two crews practised with the sand ladders and tested different tyre pressures.
“We just have scrutineering and documentation to complete in the next few days and then the long build-up is over. We’re well prepared – better than last time – and we all feel good about the challenge that lies ahead,” said Hall.
2009 Dakar Rally winners Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in the #301 Hilux will start Saturday’s opening special stage in second place behind former winner Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Lucas Cruz of Spain in an American-built V8 buggy. South African off road champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie in the #312 Hilux will start in 13th position.
Saturday’s stage consists of a 250-kilometre liaison section followed by a 13-kilometre special stage that will end in Pisco. This mini special stage on the outskirts of Pisco will not be as stiff as the drink that made the region famous and it will be one of the few opportunities competitors will get to admire the picturesque landscape as they settle down for the long haul in the days ahead
STORY BY TOYOTA