The countdown to the 34th running of the Dakar Rally is over and Saturday is the real day in Lima, Peru, with the ToyotaImperial South Africa team appearing good to go as the 15-day motor race begins.
A statement from Toyota South Africa made available to THISDAY in Lagos, said the team flew in from Johannesburg's OR Tambo international airport on December 28 and the Imperial Toyota Hilux 4x4s have been re-assembled in Toyota Peru's workshop in preparation for the 15-day race with the team members successfully completing two days of shake-down testing.
"We're good to go," team manager, Glyn Hall, was quoted as saying."The lads have been extremely busy since arriving here and everything has gone according to plan. The planned test went very well and both drivers are happy and ready for Saturday's opening stage."
According to Hall, "The test area provided us with just the right terrain - big sand dunes and camel grass and also a 10-kilometre gravel road that included crossing a dry river bed. We worked throughthe tests we had planned and found the best settings. The two crews practised with the sand ladders and tested different tyre pressures.
"We just have got scrutiny and documentation to complete in the next few days and then the long build-up is over. We're well prepared -better than last time - and we all feel good about the challenge that lies ahead."
The statement said the 2009 Dakar Rally winners, Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz, in the 301 Hilux will start today's opening special stage in second place behind former winner, Nasser Al-Attiyahof Qatar and Lucas Cruz of Spain, in an American-built V8 buggy.
Saturday's stage consists of a 250-kilometre liaison section followed by a 13-kilometre special stage that will end in Pisco.