When you’re planning an assault on the toughest rally on the planet you need to be sure you have one of the best possible teams backing you up. That’s why it made perfect sense for former Dakar winners Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giniel de Villiers to join forces and race with Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa at the upcoming desert classic.
Nasser already has two Dakar titles to his name, winning in 2011 and 2015. Now the Qatari driver is aiming to make history by triumphing for a third time in a third different car as he prepares to race a Toyota Hilux Evo at the 2017 Dakar.
Following a runners-up result at this year’s Dakar it took Nasser and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel little time to return to winning ways. The duo took charge of their new Toyota machine for race wins in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Italy, Spain, Poland and Morocco as they successfully defended their FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup this season.
Giniel also arrives at the latest edition of the Dakar in great form and with his own ambitions of picking up another win at the famous rally. Since the South African and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz won the Dakar in 2009 the first edition of the rally to take place in South America the duo have recorded a further five podium finishes. These placings have extended Giniel and Dirk’s fine Dakar record which now includes a total of 10 Top 5 results.
The upcoming Dakar will be the sixth time Giniel and Dirk’s have taken the controls of a Hilux in South America and their input into the development of the machine has been invaluable to the team. Both driver and co-driver have been there alongside mechanics and engineers every step of the way as the Toyota has been groomed into a vehicle capable of taking on the world’s most inhospitable terrain and the best offroad racers on the planet.
There’s proven quality at the controls and under the hood of the Toyota Hilux Evo at the 2017 Dakar Rally. We can’t wait to see Nasser and Giniel go head-to-head with the best in the business on the 10,000 km route from Asunción to Buenos Aires next January.
Nasser Al-Attiyah: I’m really so happy to be part of this team. Also to be driving with Giniel is a great feeling because I have known him for so long now. I will do my maximum for the team as we try to win the 2017 Dakar Rally. We started this year with the Hilux and to win the World Cup and lots of important races in our first season with this car was fantastic. This team has already had great results at the Dakar but they are missing the win. They want to win and I want to win so it was an easy decision to come and join this team.
Giniel de Villiers: The Hilux this year is definitely the best Hilux I’ve driven. We’ve made improvements everywhere: engine, suspension, the whole lot. I’m looking forward to racing and having Nasser as a team-mate is going to help a lot. We’re definitely going to go out there and do our best, let’s see if we can get to the fron
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