Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Principal Glyn Hall feels his trio of drivers can take the fight to Peugeot for outright honours in the 2018 Dakar Rally, if they can stay close to them in the sand dunes of Peru.
Toyota, who have never taken victory in the Dakar Rally before, have two former winners in their team in the form of Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giniel de Villiers, with the third Hilux being filled by Bernhard ten Brinke, who has previously won a stage in the rally.
Regulation changes ahead of the 2018 event has made Peugeot full of doubt that they are favourites again to win, and Hall hopes this is the case, especially as Toyota has developed their Hilux ahead of this years fourteen-leg rally.
“I hope so – obviously at the moment I don’t know,” said Hall to Autosport. “All I know is, we are faster than before.
“How much – I don’t know, we’ll see. But for sure we’re faster than we’ve ever been, that is clear. If we can race with the Peugeots, then we must try and hold them through the dunes in Peru. And if we can do that, maybe we’ll be OK.”
Hall believes Toyota has a good chance of fighting with Peugeot, despite concerns that their recent inability to fight against their rivals at high altitude will resurface in 2018, particularly on the Bolivian Plateau.
“I think on the tight off-piste road, we have a very good chance, and in the rally road in [Bolivian capital] La Paz area – but we are hoping that even in the sand dune we will be similar pace,” said Hall.
“If we are like this, we’ll be happy, and of course we still have the worry for the altitude for our normally-aspirated engine. I’m hoping we will be the same [as Peugeot] in most places, and then a little bit better in some places, that is my… not dream, but that is our wish.”