Toyota is gearing up for another stint at the grueling Dakar Rally, and they want to win again.
The Japanese automaker has announced their new lineup for the 2021 event, fielding a four-vehicle team. All four teams will be driving the latest version of Toyota's Dakar-prepped Hilux. The rally-prepped vehicle itself is still relatively unchanged from the previous models and is unlike the production-model Hilux. It uses a mid-mounted naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8, fully independent suspension, and all-wheel drive.
For 2021, Toyota updated the rally truck to resemble the refreshed 2021 Hilux. With that, it gets new headlights, taillights, and a grill giving the Dakar-spec Hilux an even more aggressive look.
The automaker says “significant refinements” have also been to the vehicle for the 2021 Dakar Rally. Specifically, updates were made to the suspension and the engine, allowing it to be more competitive and more reliable in the punishing terrain.
Spearheading the Toyota Gazoo Racing team are driver Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel, overall winners of the 2019 Dakar Rally and finished second in the 2020 race. The other three Hiluxes have Giniel de Villiers with navigator Alex Haro; rookie Henk Lategan and navigator Brett Cummings; and Shameer Variawa and navigator Dennis Murphy.
The 2021 Dakar Rally will take place solely in Saudi Arabia. Crews will set off from Jeddah on January 3. The route will be similar to last year, but organizers say that there are new sections for a more competitive race.
Toyota previously won the Dakar Rally in 2019. However, they missed out in 2020 by finishing in second place as Carlos Sainz with Mini won overall. Can the Japanese automaker claim a win this 2021 season? We will find out in January.