Overdrive Racing will field six Toyota Hiluxes in the 36th Dakar Rally which starts in the Argentine city of Rosario on Saturday (January 4th) and finishes in the Chilean naval port of Valparaiso on Saturday, January 18th.
Meanwhile, the Toyota Imperial South Africa Team will field a pair of Toyota Hiluxes for former Dakar champion Giniel de Villiers and fellow South African team-mate Leeroy Poulter. Winner of the event in 2009, runner-up in both 2011 and with Toyota in 2013, De Villiers and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz will be aiming for outright victory in their South African-built Hilux. The talented Poulter drives the second Hallspeed car and is partnered by the experienced Robert Howie, with the team running under the management of Glyn Hall.
Renowned as the most difficult off-road motor sport event in the world, the Dakar Rally is organised by the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) and has again attracted a bumper entry of cars, trucks and motorcycles.
Polish drivers Adam Malysz and Marek Dabrowski head the Overdrive Racing challenge in their Hiluxes, partnered by their respective co-drivers Rafal Marton and Jacek Czachor. Malysz, a former world ski jump champion, finished 15th in last year’s Dakar and took fourth places in both the Baja Italy and Baja Poland in 2013.
Both Dabrowski and Czachor tackled the Dakar on numerous occasions as top-level motorcyclists and gained excellent experience throughout 2013 with the Overdrive Team. The Poles finished second overall in Baja Poland and an impressive fourth in the punishing Silk Way Rally last summer.
The Kazakh duo of Aidyn Rakhimbayev and Bauyrzhan Issabayev, partnered by their respective Russian and Kazakh co-drivers Vladimir Demyanenko and Gabdulla Ashimov, will drive the third and fourth Overdrive-built Toyotas entered by Team Astana. Both drivers worked with the Belgium-based Overdrive Racing throughout 2013 and Rakhimbayev finished fourth in Qatar’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally – a round of the FIA World Cup – and ninth in the Silk Way Rally. Issabayev was sixth in the Silk Way event across the Russian Steppes.
Dutchman Peter van Merksteijn Snr. lines up alongside Belgian navigator Eddy Chevallier in the fifth of the Belgian-built Toyotas. The experienced racer set several impressive times on FIA events in 2013 and will be hoping to make up for the disappointment of crashing out of the 2013 Dakar Rally.
Russian driver Leonid Ogorodnikov and navigator Anton Nikolaev complete the Overdrive Racing line-up. The Russian finished sixth in the Rally of Morocco last October with his Hilux and also recorded a seventh-placed finish in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and eighth in Baja Poland.
“I am delighted that we have such a large team on the 2014 Dakar Rally,” said Overdrive Racing’s team director Jean-Marc Fortin, who is making his final preparations in Rosario. “Each year we improve our entry with the ASO for the Dakar. This is the result of a successful 2013 improving the reliability and the competitiveness of the Toyota Hilux on the many events we took part in.
“Our goal this time is to get as many cars as possible into the top 15 like last year and to challenge for a top 10 finish with our leading drivers. We are also hoping that Giniel de Villiers can win the event outright with the Toyota Imperial South Africa team. That would be fantastic for the image of Toyota on the world stage.”
After the traditional start ceremony in the city of Rosario on Saturday (January 4th), the first of the competitive sections takes crews from Rosario to San Luis on Sunday. From there, the route winds its way through north-western Argentina with stopovers in San Rafael, San Juan and Chilecito before heading towards Tucuman and on to Salta, which hosts the rest day for the first time on January 11th.
The route then heads across the border into Bolivia for the first time in the history of the Dakar to the border town of Uyuni and then crosses into Chile via the High Atacama desert to an overnight camp at the copper mining town of Calama.
Selective sections through the world’s highest and driest desert then take centre, as the route winds its way south along the Chilean Pacific coastline via Iquique and the mining hub of Antofagasta.
After visiting the remote town of El Salvador for the first time on January 16th, the route continues its path south towards La Serena and on to a finish at the naval port of Valparaiso.
Toyota Imperial South Africa Team entrants
302. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU)
323. Leeroy Poulter (ZAF)/Rob Howie (ZAF)
Overdrive Racing entrants
322. Adam Malysz (POL)/Rafal Marton (POL)
328. Marek Dabrowski (POL)/Jacek Czachor (POL)
335. Peter van Merksteijn Snr. (NED)/Eddy Chevallier (BEL)
341. Leonid Ogorodnikov (RUS)/Anton Nikolaev (RUS)
342. Aidyn Rakhimbayev (KAZ)/Vladimir Demyanenko (RUS)
368. Bauyrzhan Issabayev (KAZ)/Gabdulla Ashimov (KAZ)
2014 Dakar Rally timetable
January 4 Start ceremony in Rosario
January 5 Rosario – San Luis
January 6 San Luis – San Rafael
January 7 San Rafael – San Juan
January 8 San Juan – Chilecito
January 9 Chilecito – Tucuman
January 10 Tucuman – Salta
January 11 Salta rest day
January 12 Salta – Salta/Uyuni
January 13 Salta/Uyuni – Calama
January 14 Calama – Iquique
January 15 Iquique – Antofagasta
January 16 Antofagasta – El Salvador
January 17 El Salvador – La Serena
January 18 La Serena – Valparaiso