Qatari driver wins overall trophy at Dakar motor rally
• Toyota praises team for good performance
ALTHOUGH it did not come out first in the two -week long motor race events in Dakar, Toyota motor company, which came second in the car sporting events, said it had a successful outing and praised its team for doing well in the tournament with the use of its Hilux brand. Toyota team lost the first position to a Qatari driver, Nasser Al-Attiyah who took the main trophy.
The Dakar 2015 was without any doubt, the world’s toughest motor race. Competed over more than 9,000 km, across three South-American countries, the 2015 edition of the legendary Dakar Rally saw competitors from across the planet took part on motorcycles, quad bikes, in trucks and purpose-built racecars.
This year an intrepid South African team counted amongst the competitors for the fourth time, and despite facing off against some of the giants in the automotive world, the Toyota Imperial South African Dakar Team came back carrying a trophy.
It was a trophy hard earned on the fast rally tracks of Argentina, massive dunes of the Atacama in Chile, and high plains of Bolivia. The Toyota Imperial SA Dakar Team had been more prepared than ever before, heading into the 2015 Dakar, but questions remained about the high altitude performance of the naturally aspirated V8 engine in the Toyota Imperial Hilux versus that of the turbo-diesel machines fielded by some of the other teams.
However, the team from South Africa prevailed and proven Hilux toughness beyond any doubt; nipping at the heels of the eventual winner Nasser Al-Attiyah through the mammoth race and scooping a podium position (second) overall.
“Were it not for a navigational gamble that didn’t pay off the way we wanted, we may well have brought home a different trophy,” said Team Principal Glyn Hall. “But we are extremely proud of what we achieved – a second position in arguably the world’s toughest race.”
When the dust finally settled over the final stage of Dakar 2015, it was Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah who took the win – just 35:34 ahead of the Toyota Imperial team’s Giniel de Villiers and German navigator, Dirk von Zitzewitz who claimed their second second-place finish for the team.
“We drove a great race this year, and the Toyota Imperial Hilux never let us down,” said an ecstatic Giniel de Villiers after completing the podium formalities in Buenos Aires. “But Nasser is a very experienced and fast competitor, and catching him is never easy – never mind what you’re driving.”
Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie in the second Toyota Imperial Hilux (#327) showed exceptional pace throughout the race, but a broken suspension part cost them significant time early on. They also missed one waypoint during the event, and were docked 40 minutes for the transgression.
Beyond the two Toyota Imperial Hiluxes, Saudi privateer Yazeed Alrahji performed extremely well in an identical machine to those fielded by De Villiers and Poulter. Only an electronic problem halted the talented driver, who was clearly headed for a podium finish in his first ever Dakar.
“We are very proud of what Yazeed achieved on Dakar 2015,” said Hall about the Saudi racer. “His experience in the World Rally Championship was a great help, and it was a pity to see him forced to stop just three stages from the end of the race.”