Driver Vladimir Vasilyev and navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov from the G-Energy Team arrived in Lima, the capital of Peru, where the 41st Dakar will start.
There was only one day for adaptation and rest after a long flight and the crew had to get to work. This year the crew will compete for points in the legendary race in Toyota Hilux, prepared, perhaps, by the best European racing team Overdrive Racing, which is trusted by the top drivers of the world. During the past year Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov had several starts at the World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies rounds in this vehicle, so the driver and the navigator had enough time to study the characteristics of driving Toyota.
Powerful eight-cylinder petrol engine of Toyota, with a volume of 5 liters and a capacity of 350 horsepower, allows to develop high speed that makes it possible to compete with the top crews in the off-road standings, especially when honoured masters of sports of Russia drive this car. In 2015 Vladimir Vasilyev won the special stage and took the fifth place in the overall standings, despite the fact that he first started at DAKAR in 2013.
10 years after the first edition to be held on the South American continent, the 2019 Dakar will be run on a new loop rally-route, with the start and finish in Lima; there will be no repeated special stages. The Peruvian sand will play a decisive role in the quest for top honours. Scarce rainfall has led to completely desert areas, which the Dakar first explored in 2012 and 2013. When the Dakar first arrived in Peru, only the most outstanding competitors enjoyed the proud moment of standing on the podium in Lima. Last year, when the Dakar returned to the country for the 40th edition of the rally, crossing the deserts of Ica and Tanaka was a major test for the participants, with such top-line contenders as Sam Sunderland in bikes or Sébastien Loeb in cars being eliminated.
The upcoming race will take place exclusively on the Peruvian route. The total distance with the start and finish in Lima will be slightly more than 5,500 kilometres that are “packed” in 10 days with a break of one rest day. Moreover, 70% of the distance will be held in the sands, and the tracks for the motorcycles, cars and trucks will be different.
On 4 January 2019 the Overdrive team vehicles (one of them will be driven by Vladimir Vasilyev) were delivered to the race service park, so the mechanics were able to begin their duties.
The whole Saturday was devoted to a test session and the crews were able to pass special stages in the sands near Lima, selected by the organizers, several times.
6 January will be a day with a rather tight timetable: administrative and technical checks, press conferences and the Ceremonial start – the time is scheduled in minutes waiting for the main event of the beginning of the year.