Saturday, March 2, 2024

Toyota Gazoo Racing upgrades to Toyota GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U

Seth Quintero and Lucas Moraes will pursue the 2024 World Rally-Raid Championship for Toyota Gazoo Racing in an upgraded model of the Hilux dubbed the Toyota GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U.

T1.U is a designation that is used to describe upgraded 4×4 electric and hybrid vehicles, most notably those fielded by Team Audi Sport. The Hilux T1U, on the other hand, is technically expected to remain in the T1+ subcategory as it still uses fuel and internal combustion, though Repsol is supplying a special biofuel with seventy percent renewable material like used cooking oil.

The EVO T1U, the successor to the GR DKR Hilux T1+, is 100 millimetres wider and heavier by ten kilograms to comply with new FIA weight regulations on T1+ cars but otherwise retains similar dimensions. Other differences include the air conditioning unit being moved elsewhere and the addition of a new cooling package.

Testing for the car took place in the Kalahari and Namib Deserts.

While Quintero and Moraes race under the main TGR banner, their South African division will field three Hiluxes at Dakar for Giniel de Villiers, Guy Botterill, and Saood Variawa. De Villiers won the 2022 South African Rally-Raid Championship while Botterill finished runner-up in the 2023 points battle; 18-year-old Variawa is the son of Dakar veteran Shameer Variawa, who owns Hilux builder SVR Hallspeed.

“We stand at the start of a new chapter with our GR DKR Hilux EVO T1U, which promises to raise the bar yet again,” said team principal Alain Dujardyn. “Not only that, but we are fortunate to have one of the most competitive driver line-ups in the bivouac, and we simply cannot wait to go racing again. We are excited about the future and look forward to 2024 as our new crews grow into their roles as TGR works drivers. At the same time, we are counting on the experience of Giniel and Dennis (Murphy, de Villiers’ co-driver), as well as all our technical staff, to guide and nurture our new talents into the future.”

Quintero moves up to the Ultimate category after winning the W2RC in the T3 (now Challenger) class. Moraes moves over from fellow Toyota team Overdrive Racing, having become part of the TGR family via their Brazilian subsidiary in July; he finished third overall in his maiden Dakar in 2023 won by TGR’s Nasser Al-Attiyah. Al-Attiyah left TGR for Prodrive at the end of the 2023 season, a year in which the Hilux won all five rounds and the manufacturer’s championship.

The 2024 Dakar Rally begins on 5 January.