Edgecam CAM software played a pivotal role in swiftly producing high precision parts for the three top-performing Toyota SA Motorsport’s entries in the January 2016 Dakar Rally.
The Dakar Rally – often billed as the toughest motorsport event in the world – started in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires on January 2, followed by 13 tough stages before finishing in Rosario on January 16. Toyota SA Motorsport were competing under the team name Toyota Gazoo Racing SA.
Years of dedication and planning have gone into the manufacture of Toyota Gazoo’s three Toyota Hilux cars for the event and Team Principal Glyn Hall says the result is one of the most successful petrol-powered vehicles ever to take part in the rally.
Their cars were developed in Hallspeed’s high-tech workshop on the perimeter of the South African Kyalami Race Track. Glyn Hall is also Hallspeed Managing Director. “Each car has between 4,000 and 5,000 components. We find Edgecam is the perfect, reliable CAD/CAM software to manufacture around 80 per cent of those components on our in-house CNC lathe and machining centre. The speed with which we can accurately program all the parts with Edgecam means we finished pre-race testing to sign off a number of suspension setups and to lock down the configuration of our latest Toyota Hilux cars for the rally well ahead of the event.”
Not only did these high-precision components produced with Edgecam enable the vehicles to perform as expected, they also showed their toughness by completing lap after lap of the challenging test route comprising fast flat sections, rocky jumps and soft, sandy dunes – the perfect combination to accurately emulate the conditions found on the rally itself.
“Even so, we kept refining the components until the flag dropped for the start of Stage One. And this is why it is so important to use Edgecam software. By their very nature racing cars are never really finished, and components always need to be modified. Designs are created in-house and the solid model imported seamlessly into Edgecam. This allows us to accurately visualise the part, apply material, analyse it, decide which machine tool we’ll program it for, and what cutting tools to use.
“Edgecam helped us accelerate our sign-off process for the race, meaning we had already shipped nine tons of components to Buenos Aires by December 9 – almost a month ahead of the rally.”
All metal components are machined from block in special aluminium and steels to provide strength while reducing weight. “Only the engine block itself is supplied by the Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan – we manufacture everything else ourselves.” The vehicles’ panels are rendered in ultra-lightweight composites, which also keeps the weight down.
A total of 42 Toyota vehicles competed in the car category – and while most of them are Hilux race vehicles developed and manufactured by Toyota Motorsport South Africa, only the three entered by Toyota Gazoo Racing SA were part of the official factory entry.
Toyota SA Motorsport have worked with Edgecam’s South African distributors Stillam CNC Programming Solutions since 2006, who Glyn Hall says have been instrumental in keeping them up to date on each twice-yearly release. “Edgecam has played a key role in getting the cars ready for the rally, and helping us to really push the limits.”
As well as former Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers and his navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz in the lead car who finished in third spot, the team’s two other vehicles were crewed by South African Cross Country champions Leeroy Poultere and Rob Howie (finishing 5th); and Yazeed Al Rajhi with Timo Gottschalkn, who took 11th place.