In just a few weeks, on January 6, the 2019 Dakar Rally will start in Lima, Peru. The race will finish in the Peruvian capital on January 17 th. The Toyota Gazoo Racing Dakar Team 2019 was announced yesterday in Cape Town.

Click here to see a near accident at the recent Baja 1000 off-road race.

Familiar faces

A three-car team will consist of the race-proven Toyota Hilux will tackle the world’s most grueling race. The driving strength will be headed up for former Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers. The Cape Town lad will be partnered with long-time German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz.

This pair will have Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Mathieu Baumel as teammates. They are a returning duo to the Toyota Gazoo Racing outfit, having competed in a Hilux in the 2017 and 2018 events. The third crew in this year’s Dakar line-up will again be Bernhard ten Brinke partnered with Michel Périn.

All three crews will be mounted in the latest evolution of the Toyota Hilux. The car was updated with a mid-engine layout and new suspension geometry for the 2018 race. Since then it has refined through testing throughout the year.

Refinements to the engine, suspension and overall weight of the car during 2018 should make it more competitive. However, a key factor for 2019 Dakar will be the size of the air intake restrictor, which has been set at 37 mm for the race.

In their own words

“To me the new version of the Toyota Hilux is probably the best race car I have ever driven,” said Al Attiyah after winning in Morocco. “It can handle the tough stuff without any problems, and it just keeps getting better with each evolution.”

“Michel was excellent in the car, and he really helped me to go as fast as possible,” said Ten Brinke of the change. “But he has decided to retire from racing, and I’m excited to have Xavier Panseri beside me this time.”