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Shameer Variawa purchases Hilux Dakar developer Hallspeed
The Toyota Hilux is one of the top vehicles in rally raid, having won the last two Dakar Rallies (plus a third in 2019), three FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cups, and the inaugural World Rally-Raid Championship with Nasser Al-Attiyah. The vehicle was the magnum opus of the South African company Hallspeed, founded and long operated by Glyn Hall as Toyota’s rally raid works team under the Toyota Gazoo Racing banner.
From March 2023 onwards, however, Hallspeed has begun a new era under the leadership of Shameer Variawa who recently purchased the company. According to a story by Metalworking News, Hall remains involved in development and vehicle design.
Variawa is a veteran of the South African Rally-Raid Championship, having won the 2000 title as well as the premier TGRSA 1000 Desert Race three times in a row from 2008 to 2010. He has also competed at the Dakar Rally from 2019 to 2022, with his most recent endeavour being a fifteenth-place overall finish in a Hilux.
Hallspeed was founded in 1996 by Hall, who was then the general manager for Nissan Motorsport, to support Nissan’s racing activities before switching to Toyota. The company designed the Hilux for the 2012 Dakar Rally with 2009 winner Giniel de Villiers as one of its pilots; de Villiers still races a Hilux today, recently winning the 2022 SARRC championship.
The Hilux’s successes have made it a very appealing truck for those hoping to compete in the top-level T1 category and the T1+ subdivision. Sixteen drivers raced a Hilux at the 2023 Dakar Rally, and six of the top ten overall finishers were in one. A more rudimentary Hilux T1+, developed by fellow South African outfits TreasuryONE Motorsport and WCT Engineering with the hope of making the vehicle more affordable for privateers, won in its racing début last weekend at The Inland Off Road Championship.
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