South Africa’s Toyota Motorsport Hilux team, which secured the third and tenth spots in the 2012 Dakar Rally with their locally made racing bakkies, will return to South America for the 2013 Dakar Rally.
Toyota Motorsport announced recently that Imperial Toyota, a member of the JSE-listed Imperial group, has agreed to back the team for the next three years. This means team South Africa will take part in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Dakar rallies.
Cosponsors Innovation Group and Duxbury Netgear will also, again, offer their support.
South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and Germany’s Dirk von Zitzewitz, who were third overall in the 2012 rally in their South African-built Imperial Toyota Hilux, have also signed up to again make an appearance, as did De Villiers’ fellow countrymen Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, who were tenth overall.
“As South Africans, we are very proud of the third and tenth 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 of the fine performance of Argentina’s Lucio Alvarez in the third SA-built Hilux,” says Toyota South Africa Motors president and CEO Dr Johan 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 at the Dakar Rally in January, the two Toyota Motorsport Hilux bakkies have been competing in the Absa South African Off-Road Championship in Castrol colours. They are being raced by current championship leaders Vos and Howie, and the current runner-up team of Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin.
Vos and Howie have won three of the first four rounds of the series, while Taylor and Birkin were runners-up in two of the rounds, including the recent Toyota 1000 Desert Race, in Botswana.