Toyota Hilux Evo in testing for 2017 Dakar Rally

The revolutionary new Toyota Hilux Evo has enjoyed an encouraging first test session in preparation for the 2017 Dakar Rally.

Read more: Toyota’s top 14 rally cars

“It is always exciting to put a completely new concept to the test,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team principle Glyn Hall. “Now that we’ve had a chance to see [the Hilux Evo] in action over terrain that matches certain parts of the Dakar, we are highly encouraged.”

Hilux Evo testing 05

This first test aimed to validate the vehicle’s unusual two-wheel drive layout, which is a bold departure from the four-wheel drive vehicles that have achieved spectacular results for Toyota on the Dakar Rally over the past five years.

Hilux Evo testing 03

“The new vehicle is significantly faster over the rough stuff,” enthused driver Giniel de Villiers (above with co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz in background) at the completion of the test session. “Granted, it takes some getting used to, and it certainly doesn’t feel the same as the four-wheel drive. But man, it is quick!”

Hilux Evo testing 02

The Toyota Hilux Evo has a target weight that is nearly 600kg lighter than the current race vehicles. Being realistic, this target may prove impossible to achieve. But whatever the outcome, the new vehicle will have a significantly better power-to-weight ratio.

Hilux Evo testing 06

“Now that we’ve proven the concept, we’ll go back and refine it as much as possible,” added Hall. “We’ve got a lot of data on the dampers and settings from the four-wheel drive, so we’re not starting from scratch. With that said, we’ll need a lot more testing before we ship the vehicles to South America in December.”

Hilux Evo testing 04

Learn more: Official website of the 2017 Dakar Rally

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