Saturday, July 20, 2024

Toyota Gazoo Racing Czech formed, Tomas Ourednicek to race Dakar 2024

After a two-year wait, Tomáš Ouředníček will race a Toyota Hilux GR T1+ at the 2024 Dakar Rally under the Toyota Gazoo Racing Czech banner. He and co-driver David Křípal unveiled the new programme on Monday.

“For the first time, we don’t have to rely only on our own strength, but we can rely on experienced mechanics who also take care of other Hiluxes on the Dakar,” Ouředníček stated. “Thanks to this, we can really only focus on the sporting result. Toyota is the winner of three Dakars and now we get the opportunity to compete with the world’s elite.”

Ouředníček originally planned to début the Hilux at the 2023 Dakar Rally, but was unable to get the vehicle approved by the Toyota parent company in time. Nonetheless, he attended the rally in a support Land Cruiser to get accustomed to the Toyota camp. Meanwhile, Křípal found a way to take part as a last-minute substitute navigator for T1 driver Antoine Gallard, who retired after severe mechanical problems in the final stage.

The Hilux is one of the top vehicles in rally raid today, having won the last two Dakar Rallies and the inaugural World Rally-Raid Championship with Nasser Al-Attiyah, who currently leads the W2RC standings. Variants are available, with Al-Attiyah and Ouředníček both running the TGR model developed by Hallspeed with Toyota factory support, while a more economically friendly Hilux by WCT Engineering is intended for privateers.

Overdrive Racing will provide technical support for the team.

“The main goal is to finish, but we would like to get into the top ten, then into the top five in the following years,” Ouředníček commented. “To master the toughest race in the world, you need the best technique. But luck favours the prepared, so we must also prepare very well. The car is well designed, so what remains is driving and navigational art, as well as physical preparation.

“Racing may seem less physically demanding, but the opposite is true. In order for your head to be clean and to be able to control the car, you also need to be in physical shape. On this terrain, the car is constantly jumping, flying, it’s very hot—we used to have sixty degrees in the cab sometimes—and you spend five or six hours a day behind the wheel. At the same time, we constantly wear non-flammable overalls, non-flammable underwear. But you also need to manage to change a wheel or a part, dig a car when it fits, and so on. We practice all these things in advance, and training is therefore absolutely essential.”

Ouředníček has competed at Dakar since 2009 as a co-driver. He began racing as a driver in 2016, scoring a best overall finish of seventeenth in 2019.

While Dakar will be the main focus, the team intends to run events like the Rallye du Maroc on 12–18 October.