Next year’s FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC 2023) will soon launch in style with the season’s headlining event, the Dakar Rally. Toyota Gazoo Racing is primed to take on this challenge, widely regarded as the world’s toughest cross-country race, with a three-car team.
Reigning champions Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel will return to lead the way for Toyota Gazoo Racing in the improved GR DKR Hilux T1+. They will race in car #200.
The duo will be joined by newly crowned South African Rally-Raid champion Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy (car #205), as well as fellow countrymen and championship runners-up Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings (car #217).
Of the three pairs, only Al-Attiyah and Baumel will compete in all five rounds of the W2RC 2023. The two other crews will compete the rest of the season in the South African Rally-Raid Championship.
What’s changed for the W2RC 2023 season?
For the 2023 season, the FIA has adjusted the regulations to create greater rivalry between T1+ category four-wheel drive vehicles and their counterparts in the highest T1U category. The primary focus of the updated rules is to reduce the performance differential and close up the field, making competition even tougher. Cars in both categories have had their peak power output reduced by 40bhp. The power curves have also been adjusted to blend the change proportionately, while altitude compensation for turbocharged T1+ cars has been removed.
Toyota Gazoo Racing has made further improvements to the existing GR DKR Hilux T1+ based on more than 130 days and 25,000km of racing and testing during 2022. Changes have been made to the Hilux’s differentials, suspension parts and wishbones, which have been reinforced. The single damper suspension set-up on each corner has been modified, as has the transmission’s shift characteristics. Finally, the ECU software has been reprogrammed to accept the latest racing fuel. It also ensures that the car conforms to the balance of performance requirements set out by the FIA.
Toyota’s commitment to the ongoing development of the GR DKR Hilux T1+ is additionally reflected by the privateer racing community. Seven privately entered versions of the car have signed up for Dakar 2023. These cars feature similar set-ups and specifications to the factory works Hilux.
2023 GR DKR Hilux T1+ specifications
|BODY||Toyota Hilux Double Cab pick-up (full composite construction) over twin tubular frame. FT3 540-litre fuel cell|
|MEASUREMENTS||Length = 4810mm. Width = 2300mm. Height = 1890mm. Wheelbase = 3140mm.|
Dry weight = 2000kg (FIA regulated minimum)
|POWERTRAIN||V35A 3.4-litre twin turbo V6 petrol engine (from 300-series Land Cruiser), MoTeC engine management, boost limited by FIA reference power curve. Power rated at 356bhp at 5100rpm, 457 lb ft torque.|
SADEV six-speed race transmission with sequential shift, 215mm ceramic twin-plate clutch, limited-slip front / centre / rear differentials
|CHASSIS||17-inch Evo Corse alloy wheels with 37-inch BF Goodrich tyres.|
Double wishbone front suspension with 350mm travel, double wishbone rear suspension with 350mm travel
W2RC 2023: When is the Dakar Rally?
The headline event of the W2RC 2023 season, the annual Dakar Rally, actually begins on the eve of the new year. Nicknamed ‘The Sand Diagonal’, the 14-stage event starts on 31 December 2022 from the northwest coast of Saudi Arabia, before traveling inland towards the city of Ha’il. From there, the route continues in a south-easterly direction. It bisects the feared Empty Quarter, before finally swinging northwards towards the finish at Dammam, on 15 January 2023.