MELKSHAM, England (Dec. 6, 2010)—Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. Europe Ltd. is expanding its involvement in the annual Dakar Rally to a two-car effort for the 2011 edition scheduled for Jan. 1-16 in South America.
This will be Cooper's second year as a supplier and sponsor of Toyota Cooper Tires Team, which achieved a second-place finish this year in the T2 diesel class with veteran Dakar driver Xavier Foj at the wheel.
For the 2011 Dakar, Foj will drive a race-prepared Toyota Land Cruiser KXR on Cooper Discoverer STT light truck tires. He will be joined for the 16-day event this year by Spanish TV personality Jesus Calleja—host of an adventure travel program—in a Toyota Hilux, also on Discoverer STT tires.
The 2011 event will cover 5,900 miles of rugged terrain through northern Argentina and Chile, about 3,000 of which will be considered competitive stages. The route includes sections through the Atacama Desert and the Andes Mountains.
“Since the Dakar Rally moved to South America two years ago,” Foj said, “the challenge to finish the event has been tougher than ever. The diversity of terrain that we now face on the rally is enormous—from soft sand dunes to mountain rocks and rutted tracks—but last year, our Cooper tires dealt with everything we faced without a problem.”
Cooper did not disclose the cost of its involvement in the team.