Part 3 – Hilux makes SA Cross Country its own as Toyota team takes on the Dakar
Toyota Hilux Race History Index – start at the beginning if you have not read it all yet!
Part 1 – the early years
Part 2 – racing into the new millennium
Part 3 – local domination and the Dakar dream
Part 4 – SA Toyota Gazoo Hiluxes on top of the world!
The guard changed at Toyota Motorsport at the end of 2010. Glyn Hall’s Hallspeed operation assumed responsibility for the company’s racing activities. Hall, who had enjoyed great success both in local cross-country racing and at the Dakar, took the reins over from long time team manager Whammy Haddad.
TOYOTA PRIVATEERS A THORN IN THE WORKS’ SIDE
Multiple champion Duncan Vos moved across from Nissan with his team boss, to take the wheel of the second Castrol Hilux alongside Anthony Taylor. It was however Hilux privateer Chris Visser who put one over his factory rivals in that closely fought championship aboard his ex-factory Hilux. Vos ended third and Taylor sixth as both drivers won a race each round apiece in the new team’s maiden season.
If one privateer Visser family championship was not enough, 2010 champion Chris’ brother Jannie Visser made it two in a row in 2011! It seemed that like good wine, those ex-factory SP class Hiluxes matured with age. Vos moved the works a step closer to that elusive overall cross-country title with a championship second following a couple of race wins in 2012. Taylor took a couple of second place finishes through the season.
Glyn Hall had meanwhile wasted no time in developing a Hilux for the Dakar Rally once he’d taken the Toyota SA Motorsport helm in 2010. Hall was perfectly poised, already having extensive experience in building Dakar racers out of South African bakkies. The team used the local series to develop the race Hilux before building and a trio of cars for Dakar 2012.
2012 PROVES A HILUX RACING MILESTONE
2012 proved a milestone year for Toyota South Africa Motorsport. It started with immediate success as the Proudly South African Hiluxes stormed to third, sixth and eleventh at the Dakar on their first bite at the gruelling 8000km 15-day epic.
Only 79 of the 161 starters reached the finish. Still 2009 winner and SA Dakar hero Giniel de Villiers came home a remarkable third in his Imperial Hilux. Teammate Duncan Vos ended eleventh on the world’s longest and toughest motor race on Hilux’s Dakar debut. And Toyota’s maiden run in the top T1 class.
Duncan Vos duly returned home to also deliver the new era factory Toyota team’s first Cross Country racing championship in 2012. He won three races including the Toyota Desert Race and backed that up with two second place finishes. The champagne flowed over as Anthony Taylor made it a championship 1-2 with a win and three second places to his credit.
GINIEL DELIVERS A HILUX DAKAR SILVER IN YEAR 2
Giniel de Villiers then went one better as he proudly brought his South African Hilux home second in the team’s second crack at the Dakar Rally in South America in 2013. And Anthony Taylor went on to dominate the 2013 South African Cross-Country championship. He won four rounds, once again including the Toyota Desert Race on his way. Outgoing champion Duncan Vos came home third in his swansong racing season.
Giniel de Villiers started the 2014 season with fourth overall at the Dakar. Giniel remarkably delivered his seventh top-five finish, including a win, in ten Dakar starts as he proved the only driver able to take on the armada of Minis all the way to the finish. Four other Toyota SA supplied Hilux 4x4s ended up in the top 25, while SA rookie Leeroy Poulter impressed in spite of a tough debut run.
Back home, Taylor once again dominated the 2014 Donaldson South African Cross-Country Championship. He fought off the concerted efforts of another Hilux privateer effor by Johan Horn. Leeroy Poulter ended third in the second factory entry in a Toyota Hilux championship 1-2-3.
HILUX WAS WINNING ON ALL FRONTS
The Toyota Hilux had meanwhile made cross-country racing its own under Glyn Hall’s expert hand. And South Africa was no longer just a cog in the world Hilux machine. It had developed into a major world player. Not only did Hilux dominate on the local new vehicle sales charts. Toyota was also shipping them around the world by the tens of thousands too.
All along, Toyota recognised the fact that motorsport improved the breed. SA’s biggest carmaker knows full well the importance of winning on Sunday and selling on Monday. Not only does motor racing handsomely contribute to Hilux being SA’s best setting vehicle. But racing it also makes much more than just a handsome contribution to engineering future Hiluxes.
Back at the Toyota race shop, Glyn Hall and the team may have dominated the local series. The team however still had unfinished business elsewhere. A brand-new Hilux was about to be launched to the local market. Would this be the bakkie to delivered Toyota its first Dakar victory?
The team was hard at work finishing a pair of new Dakar Hilux 4x4s for the 2015 race. Hallspeed also supported no less than 17 Hiluxes raced by teams around the world. Click here to read the final chapter of the Hilux racing legend. For now, that is…