Saturday, March 2, 2024

Chicherit, de Mevius to race Hilux Overdrives in 2024

Guerlain Chicherit and Guillaume de Mévius have joined forces on a multi-year partnership that will begin with the 2024 Dakar Rally, racing the World Rally-Raid Championship in Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ cars prepared by Overdrive Racing.

In line with Chicherit’s trend of modelling his vehicles after those from films and entertainment, their Hiluxes will sport brown-and-gold liveries based on the GMC pickup truck driven by protagonist Colt Seavers in the 1980s action-adventure television series The Fall Guy. Chicherit debuted the livery at the Rallye du Maroc in October whereas de Mévius had a Red Bull-based scheme there, though the latter will now match with his new team-mate. For 2023, Chicherit’s Prodrive Hunter was inspired by Mad Max.

Chicherit finished ninth in the 2023 World Championship, his only season in a Prodrive. He won two stages at the season-opening Dakar Rally and managed to score a tenth-place overall finish despite the Hunters being plagued by reliability problems but dropped out of the next round in Abu Dhabi after one stage due to illness. More issues marred Prodrive as a whole at Sonora that ruined an otherwise strong performance, and they skipped the penultimate round in Argentina. He moved to Toyota for Morocco, running fifth before rolling in Stage #4.

The switch to a Hilux, his ninth different Dakar machine since his maiden start in 2005, was justified as it is currently the top rally raid vehicle today. The Hilux won all five W2RC rounds in 2023 en route to dominating the manufacturer’s championship, and Toyota drivers swept the top three with Nasser Al-Attiyah and Overdrive’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Juan Cruz Yacopini. Ironically, Al-Attiyah, the twice reigning Dakar and World Champion, has joined Prodrive for 2024.

“Endurance is one of the keys to winning the Dakar,” said Chicherit. “That goes for the driver, who sometimes have to be careful, as well as for the car, which has to be reliable. There’s no point in going fast one day if it means breaking down the next. In this regard, our Toyota Hilux is undoubtedly the best T1+. There’s a reason why Nasser has won with it three times. It’s now up to me to make the difference by relying on my experience and my speed. In this quest, I can rely on the support of Guillaume, with whom we are currently crafting a beautiful future project.”

Morocco marked de Mévius’ maiden race in the top-level T1 (now Ultimate) category after cutting his teeth in T3 (Challenger). His family-owned GRallyTeam is the flagship team for Overdrive’s OT3 programme, and finished runner-up in the 2023 FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas with his brother Ghislan as driver. While Ghislan raced for the title, Guillaume did a part-time 2023 schedule that included winning a stage and finishing third in T3 at the Dakar Rally followed by winning the class altogether at the Baja España Aragón. A former Red Bull Factory Racing driver, he was the only top five finisher in the category at Dakar who did not pilot a Can-Am.

He upgraded his relationship with Overdrive to a T1 for Morocco, where he finished twelfth overall.

“I am very excited and eager to compete in my first Dakar in a T1+,” commented de Mévius. “Teaming up with Guerlain is a fantastic opportunity. He has vast experience in rally raid, and I have much to learn. It’s incredibly motivating to work together and build my future in this category. My goal for this Dakar is to get as close as possible to the top five, with a particular aim to secure the title of Best Rookie.”

The 2024 Dakar Rally begins on 5 January.