Toyota Cooper Tire Team Holding Third as Dakar Rally Passes Halfway Point
The Toyota Cooper Tire team of Xavier Foj and co-driver, Pablo Jaton, is holding a podium position in the Dakar Rally as the legendary event enters its second half. The 32nd running of the Dakar, famed for being the toughest off-road challenge in the world, started on New Year’s Day and will come to a close on January 17, having covered thousands of kilometres through Argentina and Chile. Spanish Dakar veteran, Foj, and his Argentine co-driver are racing a Toyota Land Cruiser KXR, shod with Cooper’s rugged Discoverer STT rubber.
As the teams reached the well-earned rest day on Saturday 9 January, the Toyota Cooper Tire team was in third place in the T2 class for production vehicles, behind only the two cars run by a Japanese factory-backed Toyota squad.
Foj said, “This year, the Dakar has been really, really tough – much tougher than in previous years. This is because of the difficult terrain we have to deal with in South America but also the temperature. We are having to race in 50 degree heat, which we are not used to. We’ve had a lot of bad luck in the first half of the event, so I am hoping that our luck will improve for the second half.”
Although it was leading the T2 after a stellar second stage in which Foj nursed the car through 50 degree heat while his rivals all suffered problems, the squad encountered its own difficulties after day three. A faulty ECU unit, a navigational error, a broken battery lead and a holed radiator have all played their part in hampering the outfit’s efforts, while the tyres have held up well in some of the hardest terrain in the world – only rocks hidden by the powdery ‘fesh-fesh’ sand indigenous to Chile has caused them any problems.
The Dakar Rally ends on Sunday, January 17. The team’s progress can be followed on a special section of Cooper’s website.