Cologne, Germany,

Comment from President Akio Toyoda Concerning the Outcome of the 2019 Dakar Rally

The 2019 Dakar Rally has reached the finish line!

Every year, many entrants choose Toyota cars to take on this tough challenge. This year was no exception; a number of Hilux and Land Cruiser vehicles drove all-out in the approximately 5,000-kilometer, two-week competition. I would like to sincerely thank all teams that chose Toyota for this year's Dakar Rally. “Thank you for your hard work!”

I would like to extend my congratulations to the following three teams in particular:

  • Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body (TLC) has emerged victorious for the sixth consecutive year in the Production Division category.
  • Hino Team Sugawara came in first place, as well, for the tenth consecutive year, with the Hino Ranger in the Truck category (10-liter engine or smaller).
  • Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa won the rally in a Hilux. This is a momentous first - the first time a Toyota vehicle has achieved this position at the pinnacle of the legendary Dakar Rally.

Nasser and I drove the winning Hilux in Spain in late 2017. At that time, the team presented me with the second-place trophy from a past event, promising me that next time they would secure the first-place trophy. I am thrilled that they were able to fulfill that promise!

Last year, I had the opportunity to join a pre-event test drive held by TLC in the Moroccan desert. The experience made quite an impact on me, as I had never driven over dunes before. Imagine being in the driver's seat, climbing up the steep dune slopes, only being able to see the sky. Then, on descent, running down slopes that are more like sandy waves flowing in the sea, giving you the feeling that you are surfing. And roads? There are no proper roads in the desert! However, if cars cannot run in such harsh conditions, they are without a raison d'etre. Cars must be able to run wherever drivers want to go. I believe passionately that, “roads make cars.”

If you are wondering if I ever got stuck in the sand, you would be correct: I did. Cars that falter and fail to continue under severe conditions may be a matter of life-or-death for drivers, bringing home another point I feel strongly about: “Cars carry the lives of people.”

Naturally, crews expect to run such grueling courses in competition. I believe each team rose to the challenge, unyielding to the extreme environments of the Dakar Rally, and propelling the Toyota Group's philosophy of “making ever-better cars” considerably forward.

This year and going forward, the Toyota Group as a whole will strive to continue making ever-better cars by traversing a wide variety of roads and terrains across the world.

Thank you for your continued support.January 18, 2019Akio ToyodaPresidentToyota Motor Corporation