< Back to news

News 2017


  • Toyota Gazoo Racing SA to field three all-new Toyota Hilux vehicles
  • Giniel de Villiers partners with Dirk von Zitzewitz
  • Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel returns for Dakar 2018
  • Bernard ten Brinke and Michel Péron joins team for Dakar 2018

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – Toyota Gazoo Racing SA today announced the team destined for Dakar 2018. The Japanese manufacturer has been a force to be reckoned with in the Dakar Rally since first fielding a Toyota Hilux in 2012, and their latest all-new Toyota Hilux promises a leap forward which, combined with an all-star driver line-up, will ensure that Toyota Gazoo Racing SA is ready to take on the Dakar Rally in January 2018.


Toyota stalwart and former Dakar winner, Giniel de Villiers, will again partner with German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz. The pair last won the world’s most grueling automotive race in 2009, but have gone on to attain four podium finishes for Toyota.


De Villiers recently clinched the South African Cross-Country Series championship with a round to spare, with navigator Dennis Murphy beside him. The pair won four races on the trot, preserving Toyota’s unbeaten record in the series, which stretches back to 2015.


De Villiers/Von Zitzewitz will be joined in the line-up by Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah and French navigator Mathieu Baumel. The pair also raced with Toyota Gazoo Racing SA at Dakar 2017, winning the opening stage and leading the Dakar before retiring on Stage 3. Al Attiyah and Baumel won their fourth FIA Cross-Country World Cup this year, their third in a Toyota Hilux, and they are looking forward to taking the all-new race vehicle into battle on Dakar 2018.


“The Toyota Hilux has a reputation for reliability and durability,” said Al Attiyah of the car. “This new version is sure to take all the best characteristics of the previous model, and deliver new levels of handling and balance thanks to its innovative design.”


The third crew in Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s line-up will be Dutch driver Bernard ten Brinke, who will have French navigator Michel Périn beside him in the Toyota Hilux. Ten Brinke is no stranger to the Dakar Rally, having taken part since 2012. He raced a Toyota Hilux as part of the Overdrive Racing team in 2016, but 2018 will be his first outing as a full works driver.


“I’m looking forward to being part of the factory team,” said Ten Brinke. “I’ve always had vast respect for the team, and even though our race car has come from South Africa in the past, I’m really proud to be incorporated as one of the team’s own drivers.”


The three crews will all be driving the all-new Toyota Hilux, which features a mid-engine layout and a fresh suspension geometry. The new car conforms to the latest rules as set out by the FIA, and will race with a 38 mm air restrictor in Dakar 2018.


“The FIA has been working hard to try and balance the performance of the turbodiesel-powered cars and the naturally aspirated V8s, such as ours,” explains Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “This is an ongoing process, and while neither camp will probably ever be entirely happy with the rules, we are confident that the latest changes give us a better shot at Dakar 2018.”


The bigger restrictor, 12% increase in suspension travel and lower weight is sure to play a large role, as Dakar 2018 starts in the big dunes of Peru, where the soft sand will sap the Toyota V8 of power. The race then moves to Bolivia, where the stages take place at extreme altitudes, before finally descending into northern Argentina for the final part of the race. The 40th edition of the Dakar Rally starts in the Peruvian capital of Lima on January 6th, and ends in the Argentine city of Cordoba on January 20th.


“The Dakar Rally is undeniably the world’s toughest automotive race,” concludes Hall. “The terrain, temperatures, altitude and navigation all play major roles. But to us it is also the ultimate challenge, and we are looking forward to continuing our quest for glory this coming January.”


The Dakar Rally remains the world’s greatest automotive race, bringing together more than 500 competitors from as many as 60 different nationalities. The race takes 15 days to complete, takes place in three countries and covers more than 10,000 km. It is, quite simply, the most spectacular motor race in history, and Thierry Sabine, the creator of the Dakar, summed it up like this: “A challenge for those who take part, a dream for those who watch.”


“The undeniable toughness of the Dakar Rally is a perfect fit for the Toyota Hilux,” says Calvyn Hamman, Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at Toyota SA Motors. “Dakar provides us with a showcase for the legendary reliability of the Toyota Hilux, and we look forward to taking part in the 40th edition of this special race.”






Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Duxbury Netgear, Innovation, TFS and SAA Cargo. Also, Hallspeed, Bandit Signs, SKF, Spanjaard, Robor, OMP, NGK, Donaldson, Mastercraft, Edgecam, Supreme Springs, Shatterprufe, Smith’s Manufacturing, TRD, Peritus Forex, 4x4 Mega World, First National Battery, SA Sport & Cargo, Curtis Mobile, Oakley and Plan-C Productions.




The 40th edition of the world’s toughest automotive race, the Dakar Rally, will see Toyota Gazoo Racing SA field a three-car team. The event, which starts in the Peruvian capital of Lima on January 6th, 2018, will see stalwarts Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewiz joined again by Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel. In addition to these two crews, who also competed together in the 2017 Dakar Rally, the team will also see Dutch star Bernard ten Brinke and navigator Michel Périn join the factory line-up.


“We are very excited about our team for the 2018 Dakar Rally,” says Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “Giniel and Nasser have raced together for many years, and they have proven themselves as winners of the Dakar Rally. Bernard has a lot of pace, and has raced with Toyota before as part of our partner setup, Team Overdrive of Belgium.”




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 South African Cross-Country Series title. De Villiers has raced in 14 Dakars to date, and only finished outside the Top Ten on one occasion (2007, due to an engine fire). He has recorded seven podium finishes on the Dakar Rally, four of those behind the wheel of a South African Toyota Hilux.



Von Zitzewitz first started navigating for Giniel de Villiers in 2007, though his Dakar record stretches back to 1997, when he first took park on a motorcycle. He finished fifth in his debut year, and seventh in 1998. The next edition saw him record several stage victories, though he failed to complete the event. He then turned his hand to navigation, partnering with Americans Mark Miller and Robby Gordon, before teaming up with De Villiers. The pair won the 2009 Dakar Rally, and have remained together ever since.




The world of cross-country racing has been dominated by Al Attiyah for the last three 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 twice, most recently in 2015 (MINI), 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.



French navigator Mathieu Baumel has partnered with Al Attiyah on many occasions, and have notched up two 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 Dakar Rally, WRC2 class of the World Rally Championship and the FIA World Cup.





Sports fanatic Bernhard ten Brinke hails from the Dutch town of Zeddam, where he was born on 6 September 1977. The experienced businessman owns 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. Ten Brinke 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.



Ten Brinke is partnered with French navigator Michel Périn for Dakar 2018. The diminutive Frenchman is a giant in motorsport, having started his career as a professional navigator in 1984. Périn won the French Rally Championship as navigator in 1988, 1989 and 1990, after which he switched to cross-country racing with Pierre Lartigue. The pair triumphed on the Dakar Rallies of 1994, 1995 and 1996, and also won the FIA Cross-Country World Cup four times in a row. After a brief stint as team manager for Citroën, Périn returned to the cockpit partnering drivers Guerlain Chicherit, Bruno Saby, Carlos Sainz, Nani Roma and most recently Mikko Hirvonen. Dakar 2018 will be Périn’s first outing with Ten Brinke.





Dakar 2018 will see the introduction of the first all-new Toyota Hilux, since Toyota first entered the car in 2012. The Toyota Hilux was right on the pace from the get-go, achieving a second place on debut. Since then, the Toyota Hilux has undergone constant testing and development, but the car for Dakar 2018 is all-new.


“We’ve decided to radically alter the layout and geometry of the car for the upcoming Dakar. In order to achieve our goals, we had to build and entirely new car, though we’ve certainly incorporated everything we’ve learnt over the past five years,” explains Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall.


The new car, known internally as the IMA model of the Toyota Hilux, features an Independent rear suspension, Mid-mounted engine, and All-wheel drive. The engine now sits just behind the front wheels, in between and slightly below the crew. The independent rear suspension has been retained, though the suspension geometry is all-new, due to the layout of the new car.


“We’ve carried over the naturally aspirated V8 engine from the previous car, and have also retained the gearbox and most of the running gear,” continues Hall. “But the way we use those components is completely new, and the tests have been highly encouraging.”


Setting up the new suspension required significant testing, which Toyota Gazoo Racing SA initially carried out at its test track in Gauteng, before moving to a private track north of Upington, in the Kalahari, for further testing and validation.


“We’ve done more than 3,000 km of testing on the new Toyota Hilux,” says Giniel de Villiers, who did the bulk of the test driving. “The car feels extremely fast and well-balanced, and I’m looking forward to taking it on Dakar 2018.”


The new car has been developed in accordance with the latest rules from the sport’s governing body, the FIA. As such, it has 12% more suspension travel than before, and also weighs less than the previous version.


In terms of other equipment, the Toyota Hilux IMA sports the same running gear as in the previous version, which means that the reliability of the previous car is retained, and paired with the sharper handling and better balance of the new layout.


“One never wants to be over confident, especially with a race as tough as the Dakar,” says Hall of the new Toyota Hilux. “But at the same time, we feel we’re onto a winning recipe here, and if the rule changes better balance the performance of the petrol-powered cars and the turbodiesels, I have every reason to believe that we’re in with a shout.”




The Dakar Rally returns to Peru for the first time since 2013 this year, with the race kicking off in the Peruvian capital of Lima, on January 6th, 2018. A series of looped stages will see crews tackle a sea of dunes before crossing the border into Bolivia for the rest day on January 12th. From there, two more stages take the crews southwards through some of the highest parts of Bolivia, before dropping down into northern Argentina for the final part of the race.


This 40th edition of the Dakar Rally features more than 5,000 km of stage racing, as well as 4,000 km of liaisons that tie the route together. Seven of Dakar 2018’s 14 stages are run either completely off-road, or in dunes, making this one of the toughest events in recent history. Navigation is sure to play a major role, especially during the Peruvian stages.


The 40th edition of the Dakar Rally also marks the 10th anniversary of the race’s move from North Africa to South America.


Dakar 2018 Key Dates:

04/01-05/01  Administrative and technical checks, Lima (Peru)

06/01              Start podium in Lima, stage to Pisco (Peru)

07/01              Stage 2: Pisco to Pisco looped stage (Peru)

08/01              Stage 3: Pisco to San Juan de Marcona (Peru)

09/01              Stage 4: San Juan de Marcona to San Juan de Marcona looped stage (Peru)

10/01              Stage 5: San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa (Peru)

11/01              Stage 6: Arequipa to La Paz (Bolivia)

12/01              Rest Day

13/01              Stage 7: La Paz to Uyuni (Bolivia)

14/01              Stage 8: Uyuni to Tupiza (Bolivia)

15/01              Stage 9: Tupiza to Salta (Argentina)

16/01              Stage 10: Salta to Belén (Argentina)

17/01              Stage 11: Belén to Chilecito (Argentina)

18/01              Stage 12: Chilecito to San Juan (Argentina)

19/01              Stage 13: San Juan to Córdoba (Argentina)

20/01              Stage 14: Córdoba to Finish looped stage (Argentina)




Following the action from the Dakar Rally is rewarding and easy, as there are a number of exciting ways to be part of the action. SuperSport will broadcast the official TV program locally every evening (exact time TBC), while a Toyota Gazoo Racing SA specific program will air before that broadcast every evening. Fans can also use:


motorsport.toyota.co.za      - Toyota SA Motors’ official motorsport website will carry all the latest news and updates, as well as videos and photographs.


www.twitter.com (@toyotasa)        - blow-by-blow updates on the team through the race. See list of hastags below.


www.facebook.com/toyotasouthafrica     - daily updates on the fortunes of the team throughout the race.


In addition to these websites, the Dakar Rally also has its own app for both iOS and Android devices, which can be downloaded free of charge from either iTunes or the Google Play Store.



Hashtags to look out for and use include:





Twitter Handles include:

@therealginiel                      - Giniel de Villiers

@rallyedakar                                    - Dirk von Zitzewitz

@AlAttiyahN                         - Nasser Al Attiyah

@matthieubaumel               - Matthieu Baumel

@b_tenbrinke                       - Bernard ten Brinke

@michelPERIN1957           - Michel Périn