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Monday, January 21, 2019

Toyota Hilux is Proven as World's Toughest Pickup Truck as It Wins Dakar Rally

Toyota Hilux has triumphed with a milestone first victory in the world’s most grueling rally, Dakar.

Champion driver Nasser Al Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel cruised to the finish line with a 46-minute cushion after the 3,000-km marathon dominated by Peru’s tricky and often treacherous sand dunes.

Competing under the Toyota GAZOO Racing SA banner, they avoided taking any risks on the short 10th and final stage of one of the toughest Dakar rallies in the past decade.

A day earlier, Al Attiyah set the pace, winning his third stage and edging closer to victory on a day that caused major problems for three of his closest rivals.

The Qatari master has now won three Dakar titles. Not only was it a first win for Toyota, but it was also the first petrol-powered car to win the Dakar in the South American era.

Toyota GAZOO Racing SA led Dakar 2019 from the first to the last stage, with Al Attiyah drawing first blood, before handing the mantle to South African teammate Giniel de Villiers during stage two.

Al Attiyah retook the lead on stage three - a position he did not relinquish despite some of the toughest stages yet seen on any South American Dakar.

De Villers finished ninth overall and a third Toyota Hilux rounded out the top 10.

“We are so happy to win the Dakar - not only for ourselves, but also for Toyota and the entire Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team,” Al Attiyah said.

“Everyone has worked so hard for so long, and really deserve this. Thank you for letting us drive this car.”

The Toyota Hilux Dakar may look like the production pickup truck that carries its name, but is actually a special-built racer. It features independent suspension all around, a mid-mounted normally-aspirated V8 engine, and all-wheel drive.

The 2018 rally car is a heavily-revised of Toyota’s 2017 entry and thus enabled the team to concentrate on giving it added durability and reliability. Among the changes done this year included a revised rear suspension with 12 percent more travel and less weight. The engine and gearbox were largely carried over from the year before.

The victory means that Toyota GAZOO Racing has now won both of the world’s toughest automotive races - the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Dakar Rally.

De Villiers, who tumbled out of contention after hitting a rock in thick dust during stage three, said he was happy to support Al Attiyah once his dream ended.

“If we couldn’t win it ourselves, the next best thing was for one of our teammates to take the victory, and I am overjoyed at the final result,” he said.

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