SA-built Toyotas for tough Qatar rally
Belgian company Overdrive Racing will run three Toyota Hilux V8 bakkies - developed and built by Toyota South Africa Motorsport and Hallspeed - in this week's Sealine Cross-Country Rally.
The Qatar event is the third round of the FIA World Cup for cross-country rallies.
Flamboyant Qatarian Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah, winner of the Dakar Rally last year , pieced together a last-minute deal to run one of the South African-built cars under the management of Jean-Marc Fortin.
Al-Attiyah and Spanish co-driver Lucas Cruz Senra crew the first of the three Toyotas, with the Argentinean duo of Lucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue taking their place in the second car and Qatar's Faisal al-Attiyah being joined by French co-driver Matthieu Baumel in the third entry.
Overdrive Racing has achieved commendable results in recent years, including an outright victory in the Saudi Arabian Ha'il Baja, FIA Baja titles in 2007 and 2010 and, more recently, third, fifth and 10th overall in the 2012 Dakar Rally together with the Imperial Toyota Team, courtesy of Giniel de Villiers, Alvarez and Duncan Vos.
The Toyotas are powered by a 4.6-litre V8 engine that conforms to the latest FIA regulations.
The Hiluxes have optimised weight distribution and are fitted with Reiger racing suspension, improved braking and cooling systems, a six-speed Sadev sequential gearbox and Sadev centre differential.
Speaking ahead of the event, team director Fortin said: "With Nasser racing as part of our team the race should prove very interesting. Lucio and Faisal are making their first appearances in an FIA event and we expect a strong performance from them as well."
The first of the four desert legs began on Wednesday. The rally finishes tomorrow.