Hello, this is Morizo. I believe that many of our team members have started their first working day of the new year from today.
Every year, the beginning of the year means the beginning of work, and the mixture of feelings you have at this time is often difficult to put into words, myself included. However, there are things to look forward to in the new year as well. One of them is the Dakar Rally.
The rally has finally started at the remote location of Lima, Peru. Toyota GAZOO Racing will be participating via the Toyota South Africa team “Toyota GAZOO Racing SA” (Hilux) and the Toyota Auto Body team “Team Land Cruiser” (Land Cruiser).
Hino Motors is also participating with their “Hino Team Sugawara” (Ranger). Morizo participated in a Team Land Cruiser test drive last year in the Sahara Desert. There were various firsts experienced there. Driving the Land Cruiser as fast as I could... Running in the desert ...And even getting stuck in the desert ...
A video of the trip can be found on the Toyota Gazoo Racing website. If you watch it, you can also see scenes from when I got stuck. If you get stuck in the desert, the car doesn’t move. If you accelerate to try and get out, the tires sink further.
One of my teammates that had been driving with me rushed in and I was able to escape from the sand. Sitting in the vehicle as I was being towed to safety, the thing that Morizo thought to himself (or that I thought to myself) was that cars carry life. If no one was around ... I, Morizo, might not be writing this sentence here and now.
In a way, everyone on the team who came to help me was a lifesaver ... I'm very grateful for them!
On that same day, I asked Mr. Miura from Team Land Cruiser to ride in the vehicle next to me, and we talked about various things. During the ride, he proceeded to share an interesting story about the correct way to drive in a desert, where there are no paths. The answer? Drive behind a camel ... It is said that camels instinctively walk on hard ground.
So, following a camel’s footsteps will prevent the car from sinking. When I tried this, it was exactly as he had said. Camels are the professionals of the desert ... It also made me think how important it is to humbly learn from professionals ...
This year Dakar has a total distance of about 5,500 km. It seems that the Special Stage (SS) alone is 2,900 km. In some long sections, one SS can be up to 450 km long!
The SS of the TGR Rally Challenge that Morizo takes part in is about 5 km at most. Even though these are all rallies, the courses can vary.
The rally challenge is only for one day, but the Dakar Rally runs for 12 days. This year 70 percent of the course is in dunes. I was exhausted just driving a course for one day. Imagine driving that for 12 days. I think it is a tough fight that is beyond anyone’s imagination.
To Mr. Miura and the other team Land Cruiser members: I hope you will be able to drive the two Land Cruisers through to the goal and come back! And do your best for a 6th consecutive victory in the production car section!
By the way, Mr. Miura is an employee of Toyota Auto Body. The other day I, as Morizo, had him appear on my radio program (that aired only in Japanese in Aichi Prefecture, Japan). When asked, “Is there a bonus if you win (a race)?”, Miura replied, “The prize money is split amongst members other than employees (myself).”
If you, Mr. Miura, come back after achieving six consecutive victories ... I will discuss the matter with Mr. Masui.*
(*Editor's note: Mr. Masui is the President of Toyota Auto Body)
The South African team finished second overall last year. This year, I hope you will do your best to be number one! Go Hino Team Sugawara! Get the 10th consecutive title!
And motorcycles are participating from Honda and Yamaha.
I'm looking forward to seeing the Japan-made vehicles run in Dakar, the severest of all places! Good luck, Honda and Yamaha!