Team Land Cruiser Auto Body’s win in Dakar Production Division category for sixth consecutive year brings The Toyota Land Cruiser further success
From the Arabian Desert, to the frozen polar wastes, Toyota’s vehicles proved themselves as trusted top performers, whatever the environment. Now it has gone further in its world-conquering achievements by claiming Toyota’s first victory in the 41st edition of the grueling Dakar Rally. GAZOO Racing South Africa’s modified Hilux led throughout ten days and more than 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) of harsh desert driving in Peru to claim the win in the car category.
Even though the pick-up was specially adapted to deal with the challenge – including a mid-mounted V8 engine – its success is another demonstration of the reliable and hard-wearing quality of the engineering that has defined Hilux for decades. Our customers who use the Hilux for their day-to-day business will enjoy a versatile pick-up with built-in ruggedness that combines the essence of Toyota’s learnings from tough motorsports events with high levels of safety and comfort, making it a robust all-rounder.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda commented: “I would like to sincerely thank all teams that chose Toyota for this year's Dakar Rally. Thank you for your hard work! Nasser and I drove the winning Hilux in Spain in late 2017. At that time, the team presented me with the second-place trophy from a past event, promising me that next time they would secure the first-place trophy. I am thrilled that they were able to fulfill that promise!”
Mr. Toyoda added: “There are no proper roads in the desert! However, if cars cannot run in such harsh conditions, they are without a raison d'être. Cars must be able to run wherever drivers want to go. I believe passionately that, ‘roads make cars.’ This year and going forward, the Toyota Group as a whole will strive to continue making ‘ever-better’ cars by traversing a wide variety of roads and terrains across the world. Thank you for your continued support.”
The challenges faced by the GAZOO Racing South Africa Hilux on the Dakar were exceptional, but Nasser Al Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel successfully negotiated the ten stages to seal a historic first victory for Toyota in one of the world’s toughest motorsports events. Their triumph adds to the recent impressive successes Toyota has clinched in international competitions, such as the Le Mans 24 Hours and the manufacturers’ title in the FIA World Rally Championship.
Nasser Al Attiyah, who has won Dakar Rally twice previously, said: “We are so happy to win, not only for ourselves, but also for Toyota and the entire GAZOO Racing SA team. Everyone has worked so hard for so long and really deserve this. Thank you for letting us drive this car.”
Team Principal Glyn Hall said: “This victory was long overdue. Winning the Dakar is never easy, there are a lot of people trying. This year’s race was no exception and it brought a rollercoaster of emotions and results for the team.”
Since 2012, the team had posted five podium places and seven top-five finishes, whereas Al Attiyah’s win comes after a second-place result in 2018. The Hilux was also the first petrol vehicle in its class to take victory since the start of the Dakar’s South American era, being powered by a mid-mounted, normally aspirated V8.
There was further success for Toyota in the event with the Team Land Cruiser Auto Body (TLC)’s #350, driven by Christian Lavieille and Jean-Pierre Garcin, winning the Dakar Production Division category for the sixth consecutive year. Meanwhile, #349, driven by Akira Miura and Laurent Lichtleuchter, secured second place in the category.
Christian Lavieille said: “I feel amazing that we were able to both finish with a 1-2 finish and also get our 6th consecutive win in the Production Category. This year’s rally was incredibly difficult, we got stuck many times and had many punctures, but with our two cars working together with our mechanics providing us with perfect maintenance. This is an amazing team and I am incredibly grateful to all of the fans that supported us.”
Over the years, Toyota has been participating in many different forms of motorsports, including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race. Toyota’s participation in these events was overseen by separate entities within the company until April 2015, when Toyota established GAZOO Racing (GR), to consolidate all of its motorsports activities under one in-house brand. Representing Toyota’s belief that ‘the roads build the people, and the people build the cars,’ GR highlights the role of motorsports as a fundamental pillar of Toyota’s commitment to making ‘ever-better’ cars. Harnessing years of experience gained under the extreme conditions of various motorsports events, GR aims to forge new technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.