Toyota Motorsport South Africa is engaged in a race of a different kind as the newly crowned South African cross country champions grapple with the herculean task of packing some six tons of spares and equipment for the 2014 Dakar Rally in South America in January.
It’s a race against time and the deadline is just over a week away. On December 13 both of the Toyota Imperial South Africa Team’s Toyota Hilux 4x4s, partially disassembled and loaded on SAA Cargo pallets, and all the spares and equipment needed during the 13 racing days of the Dakar, packed in some 130 cases and stacked in three SAA Cargo aluminium containers, must be delivered to SAA at OR Tambo International Airport for the long flight to Argentina.
Toyota Motorsport’s workshop in Barbecue Downs, just down the hill from the Kyalami grand prix circuit, is a hive of activity and it’s a case of all hands on deck.
“It’s a bit crazy around here just now,” admitted team principal Glyn Hall in something of an understatement, surrounded by wrapped large components and rows of boxes filled with smaller components.
“We have to take absolutely everything we need to look after the two race vehicles. That means spares for virtually every component of each of the two Toyota Imperial Hilux 4x4s. There are something like 4 000 individual items.”
When the 21-strong team (consisting of drivers, co-drivers, engineer, physiotherapist, technicians and team manager) arrive in Buenos Aires on December 29, they will then travel the 80 kilometres to Zerate, where Toyota Argentina’s assembly plant is located. Here the technicians will unpack all the equipment and repack it into two support trucks that travel between the overnight bivouacs as well as a race truck that follows the competing cars with essential spares.
The two Toyota Imperial Hilux 4x4s will be reassembled in readiness for a pre-race shake down and final test in Rosario, the rally start point, on January 2. Afterwards there will be documentation and scrutineering in Rosario on January 3 before the two South African bakkies line up on the start line on January 5, with Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in third position in Hilux #302 and Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie in 23rd position in Hilux #323.
“We also have a logistics truck that carries what we need to set up our pits and sleeping quarters at the bivouac – ‘easy-ups’, ground sheets, tents, sleeping bags and consumables,” Hall added. “During the race the rest of us travel a more direct route between bivouacs than the competitors in two Toyota Fortuners and a Land Cruiser Prado.
“Packing and unpacking for the Dakar and moving everything from South Africa to Argentina and Chile, before returning to South Africa, is a massive operation which has to be carried out with military precision. There’s a lot of paperwork involved including customs clearance leaving and returning to South Africa as well as for our passage through the two South American countries.”
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Dakar Sponsors, Specialist Official Suppliers and Technical Partners
Toyota, Imperial Toyota Group, Duxbury Netgear, Innovation Group, Toyota Financial Services, Blue Sky, Bosch, Castrol, DeWalt, Donaldson, Edgecam, 4×4 Mega World, Hallspeed, Mastercraft, NGK, Oakley, SKF, Spanjaard, Sparco and TFM.