The 44th edition of the Dakar rally stretched over 4,261 competitive kilometers and 12 stages. In the end it saw Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel recorded their second Dakar victory for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. The margin of their victory was 27min 46sec. Al-Attiyah/Baumel only won two of the twelve stages but showed that outright pace is not the only thing that matters when taking on the mighty Dakar, consistency being the key to victory in Dakar which would not have been possible without the new GR DKR Hilux T1+, an evolution of the team’s former specification Hilux, featuring bigger wheels and tyres; more suspension travel; and an all-new engine. The new power plant was sourced from the Toyota Land Cruiser 300 GR Sport, and the 3.5 litre twin-turbo charged V6 proved extremely reliable from the start.
The same car secured a 5th place in the overall standings for South Africa’s Dakar stalwart, Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy. Taking part in his 19th Dakar Rally, the Stellenbosch local set highly competitive stage times throughout the rally, except for Stage 7, when a broken oil pipe cost the crew 1hr, and necessitated the help of teammates Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings, who assisted with mid-stage repairs.
Despite the hour’s time loss, the South Africans pushed on, winning Stage 9 outright, on their way to a Top 5 position. Had they not lost the time on Stage 7, a third place overall was a certainty, and a second place may just have been on the cards. But the Dakar, as is often said, is the Dakar – it bites often, and it bites hard
This was also true for Lategan/Cummings, taking part in their second Dakar Rally together. The three-time South African Cross-Country (SACCS) champions first took on the Dakar in 2021, when a crash on Stage 5 brought a halt to their race. Up until that point, they had shown a lot of pace and promise, but it would be a year before they got a second chance to show their true potential.
The pair were immediately fast, but a puncture in Stage 1 saw them change the wheel – only for the wheel studs to sheer off roughly 100km later, possibly to some sand residue on the inside of the wheel rim. This cost them more than 3hr, dropping them down to 55th in the overall rankings. But the pair fought back despite the setback, and steadily climbed up the leader board. But more than that, they won two stages outright, including the final dash to Jeddah. Lategan is one of the youngest ever stage winners in the car category at Dakar, and at 27 years of age, he most likely has many more stage wins in his future.
Their final ranking of 31st is not an accurate reflection of their pace, and a broken wheel hub in Stage 4 that cost them an additional 5hr, certainly did not help. Even so, the names of Lategan and Cummings have been etched into Dakar history, thanks to two stage wins.
Despite a rocky start, where bad luck and early nerves conspired against Shameer Variawa and Danie Stassen, the pair brought their Toyota Hilux to the finish in 15th position overall. This is a marked improvement from Variawa’s previous finish, in 2021, where he ended the race in 20th position.
Their best stage came after the Rest Day in Jeddah, as they posted the 7th-fastest time on Stage 7 of the 12-stage rally. This was followed by more Top 20 performances, allowing them to move into 14th place overall by Stage 8. They maintained this position until the final stage, when they lost one spot in the overall standings.
As with the other crews, Variawa/Stassen reported no serious mechanical problems with the Toyota Hilux. The minor issues encountered, however, put them off their rhythm early on. But tenacity and a fighting spirit saw them not only completing the event, but doing so in fine style.
Dakar a success for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
Adding a second overall victory brought the team unbridled joy, but it also gave Team Principal Glyn Hall a moment to reflect on the past:
“What an epic victory for Nasser and Mathieu, and the entire team. To come to Dakar and win with our new GR DKR Hilux T1+ first time out is amazing. I’d like to dedicate this win to the memory of Dr. Johan van Zyl, who was a visionary leader and consistent supporter of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Dakar project over many years. We are extremely proud of what we achieved here this year, and I know the Doc would have been too.”
DAKAR 2022 FINAL RESULTS:
Toyota GR GT3
Toyota Gazoo Racing has recently revealed a Toyota GR GT3 concept showing their commitment to further accelerate customer motorsport activities to make the world of motorsports sustainable. As was the case with the GR Yaris, by commercialising motorsports cars rather than simply adapting production vehicles for use in motorsports, TGR intends to use feedback and technologies refined through participation in various motorsports activities to develop both GT3 and mass-production cars and further promote making ever-better motorsports-bred cars.
Toyota Yaris GRMN
Following on the resounding global success of the GR Yaris, Toyota has pulled the covers off an even ‘hotter’ version; the GRMN. GRMN models represent the top tier in the Gazoo Racing pyramid and embodies the ‘total tuning concept’.
Since its launch, the GR Yaris has been involved in various motorsports, such as the Super Taikyu Series where President Toyoda got behind the wheel as Morizo and participated with ROOKIE Racing, and the Japanese Rally Championship*5, where it won the season championship.
The development of the GRMN Yaris began from Morizo’s desire to “deliver cars to customers that evolve quickly and can be tailored to individuals like in the field of motorsports.” Using lessons learned from motorsports competition, body rigidity has been enhanced, weight has been reduced, overall width has been increased for aerodynamic improvement, while vehicle height has been reduced by 10 mm for a lower centre of gravity.