Issue #16:January 16, 2023
On January 15, the 2023 Dakar Rally took participants to their final SS (competition stage), a 138km stage which took place between Al-Hofuf and Dammam in Saudi Arabia. After the SS and a 100km liaison, they arrived at the final goal in Dammam. A goal ceremony was held in the city at King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), marking the end of the 15-day rally. The TLC Land Cruiser 300 cars reached the finish with the following rankings in this SS: Akira Miura and Laurent Lichtleuchter in car #246 came in 73rd place overall in the cars category and 2nd place in the production cars category, while Ronald Basso and Jean-Michel Polato in car #250 came in 72nd place overall and 1st in the production cars category. With these results, the cumulative ranking for car #250 is 107th place overall and 1st in the production cars category, and for car #246, 108th overall and 2nd in their category, resulting in a one-two finish for TLC, setting an unprecedented achievement of 10 consecutive victories in a category.
Today’s SS took the teams from the bivouac in Al-Hofuf to an area close to the border with Qatar over a distance of 167km. From there, the course headed north along the Persian Gulf coast to Dammam. The route mostly consisted of sandy terrain, as well as sections that were both twisty and complex for navigators. TLC car #250, which had some engine trouble on the previous day’s SS, made it back to the rally by dawn and successfully reached the finish together with car #246.
The two Land Cruisers then arrived at the goal ceremony venue by around 5 p.m. The Drivers and Navigators firmly shook hands with Keiji Masui, President of Toyota Auto Body, and Atsushi Honda, Team Representative, who had come from Japan, and praised the team staff for their commendable work over the last 15 days.
This was the fourth Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia since it moved here, and the weather was unpredictable throughout the rally, affecting the course and rally operations. Rainfall and muddy conditions at the bivouacs made a tough job even tougher for the team staff. In addition, the course parameters in recent years seem to be getting more challenging in consideration of the performance of lightweight buggies, which make up the majority of the car category. This makes conditions even more challenging for production vehicles. The debuting Land Cruiser 300 rally cars experienced quite a few problems in these harsh conditions, but the entire TLC team overcame them together, and both cars safely made it to the finish.
Miura (Driver): This was a tough rally, and there were a few moments when I thought it was over. It was frustrating at times, but I’m very happy to see both cars make it to the finish like this. I would also like to thank all the mechanics for their hard work.
Basso (Driver): We were able to drive very nicely today with no engine trouble. My car ran into a few problems towards the end of the rally, but we’re very happy to see the new Land Cruiser reach the finish.