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Donaldson plays a key role in Imperial’s Dakar success

A Toyota Hilux fitted with the new Donaldson Powercore air filter at Dakar Rally 2015.
One of the Toyota Hilux vehicles kicking up clouds of dust during this year’s Dakar Rally. The Hiluxes were fitted with the new Powercore air filter from Donaldson Filtration Systems.

It is, without a doubt, the world’s toughest motor race. Across 9 000km and three South-American countries, the 2015 Dakar Rally saw competitors take part on motorcycles, quad bikes, in trucks and purpose-built racecars.

This year an intrepid South African team counted amongst the competitors, and despite facing off against some of the automotive giants, the Toyota Imperial South African Dakar Team came back carrying a trophy.

‘This isn’t a race that is won or lost by a single person or even a single crew,’ says Toyota Imperial Team Principal, Glyn Hall. ‘It takes a dedicated team to run the vehicles, a talented driver and navigator to keep it all on track, and a massive network of technical partners and suppliers that all play a part in creating the best possible race vehicles in the first place.’

Giniel de Villiers drove the Toyota Imperial Hilux that took part in this year’s Dakar together with German navigator, Dirk von Zitzewitz.

‘This year we had a fantastic race,” says de Villiers. ‘Unfortunately, we just couldn’t catch the winner, but the 2015 Toyota Hilux is by far the best of the Hilux attempts so far. We were right there in the thick of it, and on the Dakar, that’s saying a lot.’

According to Hall, efficient filtration plays a key role in the design of any race vehicle: ‘Essentially we want the maximum airflow through the smallest, most effective air filter possible. The filter housing must be compact and simple, yet totally reliable in terms of dust leakage. It also needs to be easy to access, so that filters can be changed very quickly if needed.

“Owing to the varied terrain on the Dakar Rally, the filters must also be able to cope with small amounts of water, without damaging the integrity of the filter itself…”

‘Owing to the varied terrain on the Dakar Rally, the filters must also be able to cope with small amounts of water, without damaging the integrity of the filter itself. And the housings have to make provision to drain or dissipate the water quickly, so that the filter itself can return to maximum efficiency in the shortest possible time,’ says Hall.

‘To make matters even more challenging, the filters used on the Dakar had to cope with extended periods of exposure to extreme amounts of dust, without compromising on either filtration or airflow. As much as a cup full of dust can come out of an air filter at the end of a stage on the Dakar, yet the Donaldson filters we employed showed no measurable degradation in terms of pressure throughput.

‘We measure the air pressure on each stage of the race,” explains Hall. “This year we couldn’t detect any pressure drops during the race, despite some of the harshest conditions we have yet encountered.’

For the 2015 Dakar Toyota elected to move to the new Powercore range of Donaldson filtration products. This was mainly due to space limitations, which did not allow the use of a more traditional cyclonic filtration system. As a result the team relied completely on the new filter alone, and achieved better-than-expected results throughout the race.

‘But it isn’t all about air when it comes to filtration. Toyota Motorsport also uses Donaldson fuel filters, and where direct fuel injection is used, clean fuel is of the utmost importance. Due to the nature of off-road rallying, the service areas are often dusty places. The team relies on Donaldson to supply filters that are able to last a long time, yet offer enough capacity to filter out any contaminants along the way. They also use hydraulic filters supplied by Donaldson, both for the steering system – and in the case of the Dakar Toyota Imperial Hilux, also on the hydraulic jacks that can lift the vehicle for quick tyre changes.’

It’s clear that technology partners played an integral part in the 2015 Toyota Imperial Dakar effort. And judging by the result achieved, Donaldson filtration systems delivered throughout.

Cameron Diesel of Donaldson Filtration Systems adds: ‘For Donaldson Filtration Solutions, the chance to partner with the successful team was an opportunity not only to showcase our technical abilities, but also to prove how effective our products are on the toughest motor race in the world.

‘At Donaldson we go by the saying: Give Us Dirt, We’ll Give You Champions!’ he concludes.

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa