SA's Toyota crews ready for a right royal dust-up in 2022 Dakar Rally
Three All-South African crews will be taking part in the 2022 edition of the Dakar Rally, as part of the four-car Toyota Gazoo Racing team.
They will be joined by the newly crowned winners of the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, Nasser al-Attiyah (Qatar) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel.
The South African crews consist of Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Denis Murphy; South African cross-country champions Henk Lategan and co-driver Brett Cummings; and Shameer Variawa partnered with Danie Stassen.
All four crews will be fielding the latest iteration of the race-proven Hilux — the new Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+. The new car features the twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine from the new Toyota Land Cruiser, together with bigger wheels, a new, single-shock suspension system with more travel, and a bold new look.
The car was designed and developed at the team’s HQ in Barbeque Downs near Kyalami. It represents the latest version of the proudly South African project that has seen the team compete at the Dakar Rally since 2012, attaining multiple podiums and one overall victory in the past 10 years. Now the new car is ready to start a new chapter in the team’s Dakar story and beyond.
Dakar 2022 is set to start on January 1, with a liaison (an untimed section of the route) from the city of Jeddah to Ha’il. The road section covers 815km, and will be followed by a short, timed section of 19km which will be used to determine the starting orders for stage 1.
The route then moves in a clockwise direction, visiting towns such as Al Artawiyah and Al Qaisumah before reaching the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. Here, the bivouac will remain in place for several days until the rest day on January 8. From Riyadh, the race will continue to Al Dawadimi, Wadi Ad Dawasir and Bisha, before concluding in Jeddah on January 14.
What has the team been saying?
Glyn Hall, team principal: “The team is fully prepared for the upcoming Dakar, and we are excited to Test our new Hilux T1+ against the competition. We’re confident that the new car has put us on an all-new level, but you never know just how good you are until the flag drops for the start of the race. We can’t wait to get going in Hail.”
Nasser al-Attiyah: “We are very proud of winning the 2021 World Cup — a third victory for Toyota Gazoo Racing. The car that brought us all the wins in 2021 was extremely reliable and very fast, but the new car is definitely better. We’re ready to attack from the start at the Dakar Rally, as we’ll be aiming for the top step of the podium.”
Giniel de Villiers: “We’ve been plagued by punctures in the previous few Dakars but we hope that the new T1+ specification will give us an opportunity to attack throughout the event. The new car and new engine is a powerful combination, and we are confident that we’ll be able to take the fight to the competition.”
Henk Lategan: “For me, Dakar 2022 is a chance to show what I am truly capable of. Brett and I had an excellent outing at Dakar 2021, but unfortunately our progress was cut short in stage 5. We are very excited about our prospects.”
Shameer Variawa: “Last year was my first Dakar finish, but I am confident that 2022 will bring an even better result. This time around, I don’t just want to finish — I want to show what I’m capable of in one of the world’s toughest automotive races. The new Hilux T1+ is an extremely good car, so now the work is up to me and Danie Stassen, who will be racing in his first Dakar Rally.”