Toyota Gazoo Racing SA has announced that it will be running its tried-and-tested 4-wheel drive Hilux in the 2017 Dakar Rally. Earlier this year the team showcased a two-wheel Hilux Evo that it intended to use in the South American race.

The Toyota Hilux Evo during testing

Image by QuickPic

Team principal Glyn Hall said that the team had been testing the Hilux Evo and the current Toyota Hilux four-wheel-drive model concurrently, and while the Evo had proven its pace over rough terrain, the team also made significant strides with the four-wheel-drive model.

“Our latest testing data shows that we’ve unlocked even more potential in the four-wheel-drive Toyota Hilux. That, together with the larger air restrictor that we will be running in 2017 due to the higher average altitude of next year’s race, means that our existing vehicle will be highly competitive,” Hall revealed.

“The result is that we’ve made the decision to campaign the four-wheel-drive Toyota Hilux on Dakar 2017, rather than fielding the new Toyota Hilux Evo.”

Hall added that he based his final decision on the performance of newly signed Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Matthieu Baumel, who recently won the Rally of Morocco in a four-wheel-drive Toyota Hilux.

“This is the sensible option at this point in time. Even though the Toyota Hilux Evo’s performance surprised us from the very first tests, the two-wheel-drive configuration has been a massive technical challenge. The team needs more time to access the full potential and it would be very easy to lose focus in the next few weeks leading up to Dakar.”

“The four-wheel-drive has proven to be ultra-reliable in the past Dakars, and we now have more performance than ever before. In the end it is all about giving our drivers the very best equipment possible,” he said.