Belgium’s Overdrive Racing and Hallspeed of South Africa have joined forces and will send a 100-strong team of personnel to January’s punishing Dakar Rally.The entire operation — one of the largest ever to represent a team on the rally — will field 10 Toyota Hiluxes in the world’s toughest cross-country bonanza that starts in Buenos Aires on Jan. 3 and finishes back in the Argentine capital on Jan. 17 after passing through 13 timed stages and some of the most remote and demanding terrain in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
Massive Toyota team joins forces for the 2015 Dakar
Former event winner Giniel de Villiers and fellow South African support driver Leeroy Poulter will run a pair of Toyotas under the Toyota Imperial South Africa banner with logistical support supplied by Overdrive Racing. A further eight cars bolster the mammoth programme through the Overdrive concern.
Overdrive’s team director Jean-Marc Fortin today (Monday) confirmed that the Belgian team will run V8-powered Hiluxes for Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke, Argentine Lucio Alvarez, Pole Marek Dabrowski, Frenchman Christian Laveille, Australian Geoff Olholm, Kazakh Bauyrzhan Issabayev and Czech driver Peter Jerie in one of the largest and most international teams ever to grace the Dakar Rally entry list.
“We will run eight cars on the Dakar and supply logistical support to Hallspeed for the Toyota Imperial South Africa cars,” enthused Fortin. “It’s a huge and rewarding undertaking and one that has required a great deal of preparation. The race teams will be supported by engineers, mechanics, electricians and support staff in eight trucks, two semi-trailers, a pair of race trucks that will tackle the stages and provide back-up to the cars, a T2 emergency car and 10 additional vehicles for management and vital logistical staff.”
The team has yet to win the world’s greatest race, but De Villiers has come mightily close in recent seasons with a second, third and fourth position last year. Dabrowski and fellow Polish co-driver Jacek Czachor have been regular faces for the Overdrive Racing team in the 2014 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and they finished seventh and best of the Overdrive Hiluxes in 2014.
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A daunting section north through the Atacama desert takes teams from Copiapó to the coastal mining hub of Antofagasta on January 8 and the rally drills further into the very north of Chile’s mining country and the town of Iquique on January 9.
Chile’s high Atacama Desert to provide stern test for man and machine
After a second rest day for the cars and a new Marathon stage for the car category, action resumes with a stage between Iquique and Calama in the high Atacama desert on January 13 and then the event re-crosses the Andes mountain range into Argentina and on to the city of Salta on January 14.