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The Podium Ceremony: The Starting Shot for Dakar 2017

Excitement is all around. The ‘mother of all rally-raids’ is about to begin with the podium ceremony in Asunción. Visiting Paraguay for the first time, the Dakar ‘passion’ has already touched the hearts of many people. The Toyota teams and all other competitors and their vehicles, are ready for the 39th edition. Ready to head to Buenos Aires.

Over the past three days TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa (TGRSA) and Team Land Cruiser (TLC) passed the administrative and technical scrutineering and received official authorization to participate. TGRSA and TLC had their first briefing, receiving all the necessary information for the upcoming race and held their press conferences before heading to the podium ceremony. The public was invited to cheer on the competitors at the technical check area at the ‘Start Village’, with the podium at the heart. The Dakar certainly has a lot of fans in Paraguay.

After the scrutineering, all Dakar vehicles go to the so-called “Parc Fermé,” the area where the vehicles stay until the start. No one is allowed to enter, in order to prevent anyone from making any last adjustments. The podium ceremony on January 1st traditionally is the moment all the competitors present themselves to the public. With millions of spectators all over the world this presentation is the actual start of the Dakar 2017.

Toyota well presented

Ever since the first Dakar, Toyota has been well represented and this year is no different. 37 Toyotas will head for the finish in Buenos Aires. Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel in #301 and Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in #302 of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa are fully relying on their 4WD Hilux in the super production category. Team Toyota Overdrive with Nani Roma and Alex Haro Bravo in #305 and Ronan Chabot and Gilles Pillot in #317 will also strive to bring their Hilux to Buenos Aires. The same counts for Christian Lavieille and Jean-Pierre Garcin in #327 and Akira Miura and Laurent Lichtleuchter in #332 for Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body. They will be driving the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series, competing in the production category.

The podium ceremony

In the heart of the ‘Dakar Village’ the podium will be the main stage for the starting ceremony. This will not only give the public the opportunity to get to know all the Dakar competitors, it’s also the start of the Dakar 2017. During the ceremony Paraguay already showed its toughness: heavy rain came from the sky and immediately changed the scenery.

Awaiting the competitors tomorrow: 318 vehicles (144 motorcycles, 37 quads, 87 cars including 10 SSV’s and 50 trucks) making up a total of 501 competitors going head-to-head in the rally’s only Paraguayan special stage, a 38.5 km stage which will provide the first snapshots of where everyone will stand. Toyota will be challenging Mini and Peugeot for victory, so the first stage will already provide plenty of challenges. For all the competitors, including Toyota, it will be tough to overcome the South American environment and harsh conditions. 

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