One for the good guys! The Imperial Toyota team, the Overdrive Toyotas and the Toyota powered Century Racing machine all enjoyed an outstanding outing today on day three of the 2012 Dakar.
Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz showed what the Imperial Toyota Hilux is capable of and now lie third overall on the event, 1m40s off the lead. The Alavarez/Graue Hilux produced another strong run to secure 8th place in the overall rankings. The most improved driver award goes to Duncan Vos, who showed the tenacity which has won him four South African off-road titles, to improve his overall position to 13th from 18th place at the start.
The rough and rocky, twisty sections suited the 4x4 T class vehicles better today and they proved to be more than a match for the unrestricted special vehicles.
An encouraging feature of the race is that the normally aspirated, V8 Hilux's coped with the tin air at 3,400m above sea level without any noticeable loss of power. This could be vitally important in the next few days which constitutes the crossing of the Andes into Chile.
This a long and a cruel race and anything can, and often does, happen. There is no doubt however that the South African developed Imperial Toyota Hilux's are meeting the team's expectations on every day and under all circumstances. So far, so good.
Tomorrow's stage is a 750km, high altitude dash to Chilecito, a stage on which one is more likely to lose the event than win it. A small lapse in concentration in the numerous canyons could have disastrous consequences while a perfect run could only generate a small lead. It will be a true test of each driver's ability to concentrate and to remain focussed over demanding distances and a further test of the durability of the various cars. It is what is required to get the competitors to the first killer dune stages, the run to Fiambala on Friday.
It is interesting to note that after some seven hundred kilometres of racing the top three cars, a Diesel Mini, a Hummer shelled special vehicle and a Toyota Hilux are separated by 1m40s, an incredible testament to the skill of the engineers who have arrived at the optimum package with very different configurations
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