The 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 third round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
The flamboyant Qatarian Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, winner of the Dakar Rally in 2011, 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 will 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.
An excited Al-Attiyah said he is looking forward to racing the Toyota in his home race. “The decision to race was made quite late due to my WRC and Olympic Games commitments, but it was important for me to represent Qatar at my home event.”
The Overdrive Racing 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.
“I tested the Toyota Hilux earlier in the year and was very impressed with the performance considering the car is built to the full 2012 regulations,” said Al-Attiyah. “The V8 engine is very impressive, bearing in mind it is a standard engine.”
Team director Fontin said the team was looking forward to racing the three 2012 Toyota Hilux cars in Qatar. “With Nasser racing as part of our team the race should prove very interesting. Lucio and Faisal will be making their first appearances in an FIA event and we are expecting a strong performance from them as well.”
The first of the four desert legs of the new Sealine Cross-Country Rally begins on Wednesday (April 18th) after a timed super special stage on Tuesday. The Rally finishes on Saturday, April 21st.
16th April 2012