Toyota Hilux Evo – the (r)evolutionary change for 2017 Dakar Rally
The Toyota Hilux Evo is the race car prepared by Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa for participation at 2017 Dakar Rally. That car marked not only an evolution but also a revolution of the race car concept for Toyota’s Dakar adventure because Hilux Evo is a two-wheel drive (RWD) car, compared to the four-wheel-drive system in the previous generations of Hilux.
More than 600 kilos of weight saving
Toyota opted for that big change to take advantage of bigger freedom in the FIA regulations for 2WD cars, following its main rival Peugeot Sport which took the victory at 2016 Dakar Rally with two-wheel-drive Peugeot 2008 DKR and is returning to 2017 Dakar Rally with all-new 3008 DKR.
The biggest difference between 4WD Hilux and new Hilux Evo is a significantly lower overall weight. The difference is massive 615 kilos or almost a one-third of the weight of the previous Hilux (1915 kgs). The mass is now lowered to 1300 kgs.
Bigger wheels, wider air restrictor, lower gravity center…
Other additional changes are larger wheels and tyres (940mm versus 805 mm wheels), increased suspension travel and onboard tyre inflation/deflation system. The engine and transmission are mounted between the two axles, giving the vehicle an advantage in terms of weight distribution, while mounting the heaviest components near the bottom of the vehicle has also lowered the center of gravity. The engine is the same proven, state-of-the-art 5.0-litre V8 engine as before, but with wider 38mm air restrictor.
Five years of experience in the new package
“We’ve taken all the testing and real-world experience we gained with the four-wheel-drive Toyota Hilux over the past five years, and repackaged it in the lighter, faster Toyota Hilux Evo. Essentially, this is our take on what a two-wheel-drive Dakar challenger should be,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall.
Nasser and Giniel are targeting a new victory
Former two-time Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah (plus his navigator Matthieu Baumel) joined the team in an attempt to clinch his third Dakar victory with a third different manufacturer after he won in 2011 with Volkswagen Race Touareg and in 2015 with Mini All4 Racing. The other half of driver line-up features South African Giniel de Villiers and his German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz. For De Villiers, it would be the sixth Dakar Rally with Toyota.