A week of concentrated testing in the Namib Desert near Walvis Bay has taken Toyota Motorsport South Africa a big step forward in their preparations for the 2014 Dakar Rally in South America from January 5 to 18, 2014.
It will be the third time the Toyota Imperial Dakar Team tackles the world’s longest and toughest motor race following a third place in 2012 and a second in 2013. The team will again enjoy sponsorship support from commercial partners Imperial Toyota, Duxbury Netgear, Innovation Group and Toyota Financial Services.
2009 Dakar winners Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz, third in 2012 and second in 2013, and Imperial Toyota Hilux team-mates, Dakar rookie Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie, who navigated Duncan Vos to 10th place in 2012, travelled to the vast, open expanse of desert, some 32 kilometres south east of Walvis Bay and within 18 kilometres of the Atlantic Ocean, to take advantage of the combination of sand dune fields and gravel tracks closely resembling the geography they will experience in the Dakar Rally.
“Since our success in the 2013 Dakar Rally in January we have continued our development of the Toyota Hilux in the Donaldson South African Cross Country Championship, which is one of the toughest and most respected national championships in the world,” said team principal Glyn Hall.
“Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy are leading the championship with three rounds remaining after winning the last three rounds and Duncan Vos and Rob Howie are third, so we are happy with our progress. I’d say that the local championship satisfies 55% to 65% of what we need to know to tackle the next Dakar with confidence, with the obvious exception of driving on sand dunes.
“The local championship gives us the opportunity to test the reliability of the vehicle’s components. For the rest we’ve come to Namibia – for the sand dunes and the semi-desert environment that is so similar to geography of the South American coastal areas, specifically in Chile’s Atacama Desert, reputed to be the driest in the world.”