The 2019 Dakar Rally: Toyota battles in the sand.

In just a matter of weeks, the 41st Dakar Rally will race over 5000km on a Peruvian round-trip adventure. Competitors face two weeks of sand, soft and hard, and Toyota is once again ready for the challenge.

On January 6th, 2019, the world's toughest motor race, the Dakar Rally returns for its 41st edition. Competitors from over 50 countries will compete in a variety of vehicles such as bikes, quads, cars, experimental SxS and trucks. The 2019 Dakar Rally will be the 11th time that the rally has taken place in South America and will take place 100% in Peru.
The competitors will challenge themselves through 10 stages, starting off from Lima, making their way down south through Peru to Tacna, all before returning to their starting place, Lima. Toyota competitors will take part once again in the rally, putting all their faith into their trustworthy Hilux and Land Cruisers.

Peru first appeared in the Dakar Rally in 2012 and provided an exciting finish in Lima. The same city hosted the start of the 2013 Dakar Rally and soon introduced the competitors to the intimidating Ica Dunes. However, after this, there was a five-year absence for the country in the rally, where it eventually returned to in 2018. The 2018 Dakar Rally provided the deepest expedition into the country, with 5 days of sands soft and hard and dunes large and small. The unending dunes required expert navigation to conquer and caused almost 30 cars alone to drop out of the race.

The 2019 Dakar Rally will act as a love letter to Peru, being the first ever to take place wholly within one country. For over 5000km, 3000km of which will be spent racing, competitors will be kept on their toes as they race over 70% sand filled with hidden holes and differing hardness. While this year may not feature the high-altitude mountain pass racing like previous years, it more than makes up for it with its endless perilous dunes, rocky roads and “fesh-fesh” a superfine powder-like sand. The tricky landscapes take on a further layer of difficulty as temperatures are expected to reach over 40-degrees regularly.
The 2019 Rally will have two mass starts thanks to the large open Peruvian desert space, for stages 5 and 9.

One place where the Dakar Rally may have become kinder is the new second chance rule for the 2019 Rally. Those who retire in the first half of the race will be given a chance to re-join the rally in the second half of the race. Taking part in a separate classification, competitors with a second chance will start further back in the pack to avoid interfering with those still racing.

The 100% Peruvian Rally will come to an end on the 17th of January where the competitors will be celebrated at the podium on the beautiful Magdalena beach.

Meeting the teams

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa (TGRSA) will be entering the Super Production category, fielding a highly revised and refined version of their 2018 4WD Hilux. With enhanced suspension, more engine power and several other tweaks, the 2019 TGRSA Hilux is described by team principal Glyn Hall as “a significantly improved car”. TGRSA will be represented by three teams in the 2019 Rally. In car #301 will be the returning Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah with French navigator Matthieu Baumel. 2018 saw them place on the podium in second overall. In car #302 is committed South African driver Giniel de Villiers with German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz who have raced together since 2012 and came in third overall in 2018. In car #309 will be returning Dutch driver Bernhard Ten Brinke alongside Frenchman Xavier Panseri, after legendary navigator Michel Perin retired from racing in 2018.

Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body (TLC) will be once again piloting two Land Cruisers and competing in the Production category. While the Super Production category allows for heavy modifications, the Production category has harsh restrictions on the modifications available. While there are no major overhauls to the vehicle for next year’s race, heavy testing has been carried out on sandy terrain. These tests include competing in the Rallye du Maroc and exercises in the Saharan desert. These experiences ensured that the drivers were not only used to the desert terrain but were able to thrive in it.
TLC plans to yet again take top podium with their Dakar proven machines and sage and sand tested pilots. Competing in the 2019 Rally are familiar TLC faces, in #349 is TLC Japanese stalwart Akira Miura appearing alongside French navigator Laurent Lichtleuchter for the 4th time together. In the 2018 Rally, Akira Miura picked up his first victory in the Production category as a driver. The pair is joined once again by French driver Christian Lavieille and legendary TLC navigator Jean-Pierre Garcin in #350.

HINO team Sugawara will once again be sending two teams into the Dakar Rally. For the 2019 Dakar Rally, they will be going for their 10th straight victory in the under 10-liter class. In Car 1, #517 is Dakar Rally legend, 77-year-old Yoshimasa Sugawara, competing in his 36th rally. Already satisfied with his machine, Yoshimasa decided to change little for the 2019 rally, only softening the suspension slightly. He will be joined by newcomer Ahito Sakurai, who is taking part in his first Dakar Rally.
His son, Teruhito is in car 2, #510 has a much-changed machine packed with the latest technology. This has improved the shock absorption, riding comfort maneuverability and stability. The machine has a stronger frame, an expanded, and a new cab suspension. Teruhito is joined by long time Hino member Katsumi Hamura, who has teamed up with Yoshimasa 14 times before.
To test out these machines, the teams took on the Silk Way Rally, to see the limits of their vehicles. Joined by a new navigator and team of mechanics, the teams did well and matched other vehicles with much larger engines. The new team of mechanics was put to work with several bits of damage picked up by the vehicles, however, this did not stop both teams from finishing in top 10 positions.
The teams learned a lot about their vehicles and feel more ready than ever about the Dakar Rally 2019.