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TOYOTA GAZOO RACING READY FOR THE SANDS OF SAUDI ARABIA

Date: 18 Dec 2019 Author Type: Press Release
Author: Toyota South Africa
Source: Toyota South Africa
  • TOYOTA GAZOO Racing to field four updated Toyota Hilux race cars
  • Giniel de Villiers partners with Alex Haro
  • Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel returns for Dakar 2020
  • Bernhard ten Brinke reunited with Tom Colsoul
  • Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma to compete in first Dakar Rally
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will be fielding a four-car team in the upcoming Dakar Rally, which sees the race relocate from South America to Saudi Arabia. The team will be utilizing the latest version of the race-winning Toyota Hilux, when the race gets underway in the Saudi city of Jeddah, on January 5th, 2020. Having won the 2019 edition of the iconic race, the team will be under pressure to perform right from the start, once the flag drops for Stage 1.

Spearheading the attack will be defending champions Nasser Al Attiyah (Qatar) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (France). The pair not only achieved victory during Dakar 2019, but also won each race they entered, with the exception of the Rally of Morocco. This makes them the odds-on favourites to take victory in Saudi Arabia, though they’re sure to be pushed hard by teammates Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Alex Haro.

The South African, now partnered with Spaniard Haro, claimed victory during the 2019 Rally of Morocco, and have the advantage of regularly testing the South African-built Toyota Hilux throughout the local cross-country championship (SACCS). The man from Stellenbosch is hungry for more silverware, thanks to his victory in Morocco.

The third Toyota Hilux will be driven by Bernhard ten Brinke (Netherlands), who has signed up the services of his former co-driver, Belgium’s Tom Colsoul. The pair have proven very quick in the past, and Ten Brinke found himself at the sharp end of the Dakar Rally two years running, before cruelly bowing out due to technical issues with the finish almost in sight.

Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma, both from Spain, will be taking charge of the final South African-built and developed Toyota Hilux. The pair have spent months preparing for the race, and while Alonso has made it clear that he still has a lot to learn, he has shown exceptional pace in the car, and will be aiming for a steady run, rather than all-out victory.

The 2020 version of the Dakar-winning Toyota Hilux features numerous small tweaks over the 2019 version, but it retains the same suspension geometry and engine layout as the previous car. Testing in South Africa has allowed the team to work on refinements and reliability of key components, and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Team Principal, Glyn Hall, is quietly confident of the latest version of the Toyota Hilux.

“We’ve made significant gains while racing in the South African Cross-Country Series, which serves as our main test bed during the year,” explains Hall. “As one would expect, the gains have been incremental rather than the evolutionary leap we saw when we introduced the all-new car two years ago; but when you add up all the improvements we’ve made, I’m confident that we’re fielding the best Toyota Hilux we’ve ever seen.”

In addition to local testing, the Toyota Hilux has also taken part in a variety of tough International cross-country races, including the Silk Way Rally, Qatar Cross-Country Rally and the Rally of Morocco – and it came away victorious in each of those outings.

In recent years, altitude has played a key role in the Dakar Rally, thanks to the Andes mountain range which feature along most of the length of the South American continent, where the race has taken place since 2009. However, the shift to Saudi Arabia will see the race run at lower altitudes, where the naturally aspirated V8 engine of the Toyota Hilux will be right at home.

“With that said, the engine’s abilities will still largely be determined by the size of the intake air restrictor, which has been limited to 37mm for the 2020 Dakar Rally,” says Hall. “The purpose of the restrictor is to help the organizers balance the power output of the various engines in the race, and while we’d always prefer a larger restrictor, at least we won’t have to deal with the complexities of extreme altitudes this year.”

The race will start in the Saudi’s second city, Jeddah, which is located on the Red Sea, in the western part of the country. Stage 1 is scheduled to start on January 5th, after which the race winds its way northwards to the city of Neom, before heading inland along a southerly course that takes the Dakar to Saudi’s Empty Quarter for the second week of the race.

Dakar 2020 will draw to a close in Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh, on January 17th, 2020. The race will consist of 12 stages plus one rest day, and it will cover a variety of terrain types, including mountains, riverbeds and many dunes.

The 2020 race will be the 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally, and over the years the race has visited 30 countries – three in Europe, five in South America and 21 in Africa, with Saudi Arabia now added to the list. It is the second-largest motorsport event in the world, eclipsed only by F1.

“There can be no doubt that the Toyota Hilux is one of the toughest bakkies ever made. Taking on the extreme challenges offered by the Dakar Rally serves as the perfect platform for us to demonstrate the unparalleled toughness and reliability that has always set the Toyota Hilux apart from its competitors,” says Leon Theron, Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at Toyota SA Motors. “To us, coming together is a beginning. Staying together equals progress, and working together leads to success. We remain humble, yet undeniably hungry for victory.”

DAKAR 2020: CREW LINE-UP

The 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally will see TOYOTA GAZOO Racing field a four-car team. South Africans will be able to cheer on local hero Giniel de Villiers, who is now partnered with Spanish navigator Alex Haro. The pair won this year’s Rally of Morocco, and are upbeat about their chances in the Dakar. Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah will again be in action with French co-driver Mathieu Baumel. The pair were victorious at Dakar 2019, and have since won all but one of the races they entered with their South African Toyota Hilux.

They’ll be partnered by Dutchman Bernhard ten Brinke and Belgian co-driver Tom Colsoul. The pair have raced together before, and immediately gelled again during races earlier in the year. Ten Brinke has proven his pace many times, and he’s sure to be in the hunt for a podium position if the chips fall his way in Saudi Arabia.

The final TOYOTA GAZOO Racing entry will arguably be the one that draws the most attention, thanks to its all-star crew of Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma. The former track champion will be contesting his first Dakar Rally, but has the highly experienced Coma beside him in the Hilux. The pair have clocked up thousands of kilometres during their accelerated training programme, and while they will not be aiming for overall victory this time round, the Spanish duo have proven that they have the pace to match many of the more established crews in the race.

“Our team for Dakar 2020 has grown significantly, thanks to the addition of Fernando and Marc,” says TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “On the other hand, we have great stability in the team, thanks to Nasser, Giniel and Bernhard, who have all been with us for multiple Dakars. We’re also lucky to welcome Alex and Tom to the fold, and look forward to what promises to be a very exciting Dakar in 2020.”

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NASSER AL ATTIYAH
The world of cross-country racing has been dominated by Al Attiyah for the last four years, as the Qatari star won the FIA’s Cross-Country World Cup in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – the last two behind the wheel of a South African Toyota Hilux. He has won the Dakar Rally three times, most recently in 2019 (Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa), and has also competed in the World Rally Championship, Complete World Touring Car Championship and a multitude of other global race series. The affable racer is also an accomplished Skeet Shooter, and won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games. He won the Rally of Morocco for a record fifth consecutive time in 2018.

MATHIEU BAUMEL
French navigator Mathieu Baumel has partnered with Al Attiyah on many occasions, and have notched up three FIA Cross-Country World Cup titles with the Qatari superstar. Baumel, who hails from Manosque in France’s Luberon region, specializes in cross-country racing as well as rallying, and recorded his first title in the Dakar Challenge of 2005. Since then, the approachable Frenchman has notched up six championships in a variety of disciplines, including the 2015 and 2019 Dakar Rallies, WRC2 class of the World Rally Championship and the FIA World Cup.

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GINIEL DE VILLIERS
De Villiers has become a household name in many parts of the world, thanks mainly to his victory in the 2009 Dakar Rally. However, the quiet Stellenbosch racer has also notched up numerous championships in a wide variety of racing disciplines, including the 2017 and 2018 South African Cross-Country Series titles. De Villiers has raced in 15 Dakars to date, and only finished outside the Top Ten on one occasion (2007, due to an engine fire). He has recorded eight podium finishes on the Dakar Rally, five of those behind the wheel of a South African Toyota Hilux. He has also won the Rally of Morocco four times, most recently in 2019.

ALEX HAROM
Alex Haro is firmly entrenched as one of the top cross-country navigators in the world. The diminutive Spaniard has racked up numerous accolades in the sport, most notably a second place finish at Dakar 2019, alongside Nani Roma in an X-Raid MINI. He teamed up with Giniel de Villiers later in 2019, making the switch from MINI to Toyota Gazoo Racing SA. The pair’s first international outing together was the 2019 Rally of Morocco, which they won.

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BERNHARD TEN BRINKE
Sports fanatic Bernhard ten Brinke hails from the Dutch town of Zeddam, where he was born on 6 September 1977. The experienced businessman owned an established kitchen company in the Netherlands, but his true passion lies with sport – and more specifically, motorsport. Ten Brinke has been racing since 2004, cutting his teeth on the Renault Clio Sport Cup circuit, before adding rallying to his experience in 2009. He made his Dakar debut in 2012, finishing in a highly credible eighth place, with navigator Mathieu Baumel beside him. In 2014 Ten Brinke joined Overdrive Racing, and significantly expanded his cross-country racing experience the following year. He finished Dakar 2015 in seventh overall, suffered a DNF in 2016 and focused on his rallying in 2017, missing out on the Dakar Rally as a result. He suffered another DNF in Dakar 2018, but recorded an epic stage win at Fiambala, and was on course for a podium finish until the penultimate stage of the rally.

TOM COLSOUL
Belgian navigator Tom Colsoul is synonymous with the world of cross-country racing. He triumphed in the Dakar Rally of 2012, alongside Dutch truck racing legend Gerard de Rooy, in an Iveco. He also claimed the 2018 World Cup for Cross Country Rally navigator’s title, navigating for MINI’s Jakub Przygonski; and has navigated for a number of the top rally-raid drivers in the world. He recently reunited with Ten Brinke, and the pair took on the Rally of Morocco in 2019 together. Their results belied an excellent performance, hampered only by an altercation with an unmarked ditch, which took them out of contention for victory.

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FERNANDO ALONSO
Fernando Alonso needs no introduction. He is a two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, reigning FIA World Endurance Championship title holder with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, two-time Formula 1 World Champion, and winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona. The Spaniard joined TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in 2019, and competed in a number of South African and International events with the team. He finished in the Top 10 at the 2019 Rally of Morocco, and recorded a podium finish at the Al Ula-Neom Rally in Saudi Arabia later the same year. He announced his participation in the 2020 Dakar Rally as part of his ambition to try different motorsport disciplines and become an even more complete racing driver.

MARC COMA
Marc Coma is another Spanish motorsport legend, who boasts six FIM Cross-Country World Championships and five Dakar Rally victories. He also served as the Race Director of the Dakar Rally during 2015-2018, but signed on with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing as navigator for Alonso during 2019. His vast experience of the Dakar Rally is sure to be of great value to the team, and specifically to Alonso, who will be relying on his countryman for direction and wisdom during the race. Coma has raced in 12 Dakar Rallies, recording five wins and two second place finishes.

GLYN HALL, TEAM PRINCIPAL
Glyn Hall’s motorsport career started in the United Kingdom after he joined Chrysler UK as a student apprentice in 1975. He progressed through many departments in the company during his training, but it was the competitions department that captured his imagination the most.

He joined the competitions department on completion of his training and enjoyed what he describes as “three great years”. This period enabled him to meet many influential people in his life such as Tony Pond, Henri Toivonen and Jean Todt, to name but a few, as well as to be involved in the prototype Lotus Sunbeam rally car.

Hall blossomed in South Africa, a country the quiet Briton adopted in 1980 when he came here as a 22-year-old to work for Geoff Mortimer Motorsport. Tony Pond was driving for Mortimer at the time, in addition to his European commitments.

Today, Hall can look back on a distinguished contribution to the history of motorsport in South Africa and a career full of achievements, which have placed him at the very forefront of motorsport management in this country.

His achievements have been recognised by the Guild of Motoring Journalists (in 1999, 2007 and 2012) with the Colin Watling Award for outstanding contribution to motorsport by a non-competitor.

In 2012, four Toyota Hilux pickups designed and built by Hallspeed made history when they competed for the first time in the Dakar. Two were entered by the Imperial Toyota South Africa Team supported by Duxbury Netgear and the Innovation Group and crewed by 2009 Dakar winners Giniel de Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz as well as Duncan Vos and Rob Howie. One was in the hands of Argentine privateer Lucio Alvarez and the other was run by top Belgian Dakar team Overdrive.

Since their first foray in the Dakar Rally, Hall’s team has evolved into Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa, and recently to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, forming part of the Toyota Motor Corporation’s international racing division. The crowning glory for the team came in 2019, when Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel won the Dakar Rally, behind the wheel of a South African-built Toyota Hilux.

DAKAR 2020: THE ROUTE – ARABIAN CHALLENGE
Dakar 2020 will see the iconic race move from the South American continent to Saudi Arabia after ten editions. The last time the race moved continents, Giniel de Villiers emerged victorious (in 2009), and the change may be a good omen for the South African.

The race is scheduled to start on January 5th, with Stage 1 taking place between the city of Jeddah and Al Wajh. The first test promises to be a tough one, with 319 km of special stage distance.

Next up is the trek to the coastal city of Neom, where stages 2 and 3 will see the crews tackle a series of tricky tracks, featuring tough navigation. The route for the 2020 race then turns inland, before snaking its way towards the country’s capital city of Riyadh for the rest day midway through the race.

The second week of Dakar 2020 will largely take place in Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter, where sandy tracks and dunes are sure to play a key role in the outcome of the event. With a 374 km-long closing stage, the 42nd edition of the world’s toughest motorsport event will come to an end on January 17th, as the crews arrive in Qiddiya, just 40 km from the capital city of Riyadh.

Dakar 2020 Key Dates:
02/01-05/01Administrative and technical checks, Jeddah
05/01Stage 1: Jeddah > Al Wajh, 752 km / 319 km SS
06/01Stage 2: Al Wajh > Neom, 401 km / 367 km SS
07/01Stage 3: Neom > Neom, 489 km / 404 km SS
08/01Stage 4: Neom > Al Ula, 676 km / 453 km SS
09/01Stage 5: Al Aula > Ha’il, 563 km / 353 km SS
10/01Stage 6: Ha’il > Riyadh, 830 km / 478 km SS
11/01Rest Day, Riyadh
12/01Stage 7: Riyadh > Wadi Al-Dawasir, 741 km / 546 km SS
13/01Stage 8: Wadi Al-Dawasir > Wadi Al-Dawasir, 713 km / 474 km SS
14/01Stage 9: Wadi Al-Dawasir > Haradh, 891 km / 415 km SS
15/01Stage 10: Haradh > Shubaytah, 608 km / 534 km SS
16/01Stage 11: Shubaytah > Haradh, 744 km / 379 km SS
17/01Stage 12: Haradh > Qiddiyah, 447 km / 374 km SS


TOTAL DISTANCE = 7,856 km
SPECIAL STAGE DISTANCE = 5,097 km