Toyota South Africa DAKAR: NEW HILUX STRENGTHENS TOYOTA GAZOO RACING FOR 2024 DAKAR AND W2RC SEASON

NEW HILUX STRENGTHENS TOYOTA GAZOO RACING FOR 2024 DAKAR AND W2RC SEASON
  • New Toyota GR IMT Hilux EVO T1U breaks cover for 2024 season
  • 5 crews confirmed for Dakar 2024 – blending youth and experience to defend 2023 title
  • 2 crews to campaign full 2024 W2RC season

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR) will be competing in 2024 with the updated version of its Dakar-winning car, now known as the GR IMT Hilux EVO T1U – a name that reflects both the upgrades to the car and the new W2RC categorisation.

The team will enter five crews at Dakar 2024, including two rookie drivers taking on the world’s toughest automotive race. This will be the largest team that TGR has ever fielded at the iconic Dakar Rally, mixing unparalleled experience in the form of Giniel de Villiers with the undeniable pace of Lucas Moraes and Seth Quintero.

Finally, the team has also confirmed that both Lucas and Seth, together with their co-drivers, will be competing in the 2024 season of FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC).

Dakar 2024 will be Round 1 of the 2024 W2RC, and as such it will be a critical rally for TGR’s two confirmed W2RC crews: Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleon, as well as Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz.

These two crews will be keen to get their W2RC campaign off to a solid start, with four rounds following the season-opening Dakar Rally. These events are:

  • Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (25 February-2 March, 2024)
  • BP Ultimate Rally-Raid in Portugal (2-7 April, 2024)
  • Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina (2-8 June, 2024)
  • Rally of Morocco (5-11 October, 2024)

While these two crews will be fighting for victory in the W2RC after the Dakar Rally, the three South African drivers will be taking on the highly competitive and exciting South African Rally-Raid Series (SARRC), which also serves as the main testing programme for the development of the GR IMT Hilux EVO T1U.

Lucas Moraes was the revelation of Dakar 2023, running in second place for most of the rally in a privately entered Toyota Hilux, but eventually settling for third overall – making him one of the most successful rookies in the history of the Dakar Rally. This year, the young Brazilian will be paired with Armand Monleon from Spain, who initially competed in the Dakar on a bike, before switching first to SSVs and now to the top flight of rally-raid racing.

They will have Seth Quintero and co-driver Dennis Zenz for company throughout the year. Seth has been described as a rally-raid prodigy, and one of the biggest talents in the current pool of emerging drivers. His undeniable pace, together with a depth of experience that belies his youth, makes him one of the hottest properties in the bivouac, and TGR is excited to see what the fast, young driver can achieve from behind the wheel of the new GR IMT Hilux EVO T1U. Seth will have German co-driver, Dennis Zenz, beside him in the car, and will be looking forward to completing their fourth Dakar together.

Both these youthful crews will be looking to draw on the experience offered to the team by Giniel de Villiers, who won the Dakar Rally in 2009. Giniel has an unparalleled record in the event, having completed 20 Dakars to date. He has finished in the Top 10 19 times, achieved eight podium finishes and 15 Top 5 finishes. He will again be partnered with Dennis Murphy from South Africa, as he has been since Dakar 2022. The pair also won the SARRC title together in 2022.

They will be joined by young racing sensation, Saood Variawa and his co-driver, Francois Cazalet. Saood competes for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA in the Global Touring Car Championship in South Africa; and also drives a Toyota Hilux T1+ as part of the South African SARRC squad. Despite his youth (Saood is only 18 years old, and amongst the youngest works drivers ever to race at the Dakar Rally), the Johannesburg-based racer has a depth of experience, and will be looking forward to tackling the Dakar Rally for the first time in 2024. His father, Shameer, completed two Dakar Rallies as part of the same team, and Saood will be keen to follow in his father’s footsteps.

The final crew in the line-up is Guy Botterill and co-driver Brett Cummings. Cummings is a familiar face in the team, as he usually co-drives for Henk Lategan, who cannot compete due to a shoulder injury following a heavy crash in South Africa earlier in the year. Guy will be facing his first Dakar Rally, and will be hoping that Brett’s experience on the event will stand him in good stead. Guy has an impressive record in South African rallies, and moved across to the rally-raid discipline full-time during 2023. He finished as runner-up in the SARRC this year, narrowly missing out on a title.

New GR IMT Hilux EVO T1U

The new car is 100 mm wider than its predecessor and incorporates several refinements. The suspension has seen specific attention and the air conditioning unit has been relocated for more efficiency. In addition, the car has been fitted with a new cooling package, allowing for greater redundancy.

Toyota’s focus on quality, durability and reliability was a key factor in the development of the new car.

As such, the car has been in constant development throughout the year and TGR’s crews have completed nearly 30,000km of racing and testing in 2023 season of W2RC and SARRC.

Additional tests were conducted in the Kalahari Desert, and considerable test mileage was added in the Namib Desert as part of its final preparations for the Dakar Rally, leading into next year’s W2RC.

Newly-developed biofuel

At the same time, the team has also been integrating its plans for a more sustainable future, with an eye on the Dakar Future project. As part of its commitment to this project, the TGR Dakar Team has partnered with Repsol, to attain the required targets well ahead of the 2026 deadline.

Repsol supplies fuels to TGR with 70% renewable content, using advanced biofuels with a reduction of the carbon footprint of at least 70%, compared to conventional gasoline. These renewable fuels have been designed and produced at the Repsol Technology Lab in Madrid from renewable waste material, such as used cooking oil. They have been produced in installations certified under the ISCC EU sustainability scheme, and the raw materials as well as the production processes comply with the sustainability requirements under in the European Renewable Energy Directive. 

TGR has been an extensive research and development partner to Repsol over the last 18 months; first bench-testing and then extensively field testing the Repsol Renewable Fuel 70R+ in various locations, with the final pre-Dakar tests concluding recently in Namibia. The blend used by the team was formulated exclusively for TGR, in accordance with the FIA’s regulations.

Dakar 2024 is set to start on January 5th, with a short prologue near the northern city of Alula. Six tough stages will follow the prologue, including an innovative ’48-hour Chrono’ stage, which is essentially an extended marathon stage. This will be followed by the traditional rest day, which again takes place in the Saudi capital of Riyadh (January 13th, 2024). Six more stages will take the rally back towards the northern part of the country, before the event comes to an end in the coastal city of Yanbu, on January 19th.

QUOTES:

Alain Dujardyn, TGR W2RC Team Principal: “To have achieved everything we did in 2023 is an amazing feeling. We won the Dakar Rally, as well as the W2RC titles for a second successive year, thanks to our highly durable and reliable GR DKR Hilux T1+, as well as the skills and dedication of Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel. Now, we stand at the start of a new chapter, with our GR IMT Hilux EVO T1U, which promises to raise the bar yet again. Not only that, but we are fortunate to have one of the most competitive driver line-ups in the bivouac, and we simply cannot wait to go racing again. We are excited about the future and look forward to 2024 as our new crews grow into their roles as TGR works drivers. At the same time, we are counting on the experience of Giniel and Dennis, as well as all our technical staff, to guide and nurture our new talents into the future.”

Andrea Carlucci, Vice President, Product & Marketing Management, Toyota Motor Europe: “We are excited to start the 2024 W2RC with our largest team ever at Dakar, and I’m looking forward to following Seth and Dennis, and Lucas and Armand on their journey with the new GR IMT Hilux EVO T1U.”

Glenn Crompton, Vice-President, Marketing: Toyota South Africa Motors: “The Dakar Rally has a reputation as the toughest automotive race on the planet, and as such it is the perfect place for us to prove the quality, durability and reliability of our Toyota Hilux. We’ve been working hard to make our GR IMT Hilux EVO T1U even better than its predecessor, and I look forward to seeing the new car in action early in January.”

Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: “We are very pleased with the progress we made in developing the Toyota Hilux for the upcoming Dakar Rally. The car continues to evolve, and now the latest evolution of the GR IMT Hilux EVO T1U, sports numerous refinements that should enable our crews to compete at the very highest level. We believe the new car is even faster and more reliable than its predecessor, which is saying a lot, since that was the car that won the previous two Dakar Rallies.”

Lucas Moraes: “Dakar 2023 was an amazing experience for me. Finishing on the podium at my first attempt was simply amazing, and while it would have been nice to stay in second place to the end, I was ecstatic with third place, too. More importantly, I proved that I am capable of sustaining the necessary pace over the entirety of the Dakar, and hope to do so again in 2024. At the same time, I have learnt a lot from my various racing activities this year, and I’m looking forward to expanding on this as part of TGR’s W2RC squad for 2024.”

Giniel de Villiers: “The Dakar Rally is one of my favourite events of the year. One of the things that make it so exciting for me, is the fact that I’m closely involved with the development of each new version of the Hilux, and to see it all come together at the race is a highlight. I remain as competitive as ever, and will be aiming for a solid performance come January. I know the car is good, the team is good, and I am inspired to give Dakar 2024 my best shot.”

Seth Quintero: “Stepping up from SSVs to the fastest rally-raid cars in the world is very exciting for me. I’ve basically come through the ranks, and 2024 will be my first chance to compete with all the biggest names in the sport. The new version of the GR IMT Hilux EVO has impressed me no end, and I’m confident that we’ll be able to take the fight to the competition from the get-go.”

Saood Variawa: “I’m so excited about taking on the Dakar Rally for the first time. I’ve been learning a lot about rally-raid racing this year, and constantly finding ways to improve, especially in the dunes. My experience with the new GR IMT Hilux EVO has been limited but very positive. The car is simply superb, and I can’t wait to go racing in Saudi Arabia.”

Guy Botterill: “To me, taking part in my first Dakar Rally is a life-long dream that has come true. I’m a fairly new rally-raid convert, having come from the world of rallying. Even so, I feel confident with the car as I’ve been racing it all year in the SARRC. Now, it is time to step up to the biggest race of them all, and I’m excited to have Brett beside me in the car. His experience will be invaluable, as we aim to finish Dakar 2024.”

CAR NUMBERS:

206 –     Lucas Moraes / Armand Monleon

209 –     Giniel de Villiers / Dennis Murphy

216 –     Seth Quintero / Dennis Zenz

226 –     Saood Variawa / Francois Cazalet

243 –     Guy Botterill / Brett Cummings

SPECIFICATIONS: GR IMT HILUX EVO T1U (2024)

Engine V35A Production Engine
DonorLand Cruiser 300
Engine TypeTwin Turbo, Petrol
Control RegulationBoost Limited by FIA Reference Power Curve
Power264 kW @ 5,300 rpm
Torque620 Nm
Engine Management Motec
TransmissionSadev 6-speed, Sequential Shift
DifferentialsAll Limited Slip (front, centre, rear)
ClutchCeramic Twin Plate, 215 mm
ConstructionTubular Frame
Wheel Base3,140 mm
Track2,025 mm
Overall Length4,810 mm
Overall Width 2,300 mm
Overall Height 1,890 mm
Overall Mass2,010 kg, FIA Regulated Minimum (dry weight)
BodyToyota Hilux Double Cab Pick-Up, Full Composite
Front SuspensionDouble Wishbone, 350 mm Travel
Rear SuspensionDouble Wishbone, 350 mm Travel
WheelsEvo Course, 17 inches
TyresBF Goodrich, 37 inches
Fuel TankFT3 Safety Cell, 540 litres

DAKAR RALLY 2024 ― TGR TEAM SETUP

TeamNo.Driver / Co-driver
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing206DriverLucas Moraes (Brazil)
Co-driverArmand Monleon (Spain)
209DriverGiniel de Villiers (South Africa)
Co-driverDennis Murphy (South Africa)
216DriverSeth Quintero (United States)
Co-driverDennis Zenz (Germany)
226DriverSaood Variawa (South Africa)
Co-driverFrancois Cazalet (France)
243DriverGuy Botterill (South Africa)
Co-driverBrett Cummings (South Africa)

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