The Paris-Dakar Rally (2002-2007)

2002 24th; Arras-Madrid-Dakar

The sudden death of former team general director Takehiko Arakawa abided the team to fulfill his wishes of capturing a 5th straight title and another 1st-2nd finish. Mounting a furious charge in the first 2-day consecutive marathon stage in Paris-Dakar Rally history, vehicle number 2 rose quickly in the standings to capture 1st place of the entire unmodified production group and 9th place overall which was the best finish ever for Toyota. Driver Asaga and new navigator Daisuke Arakawa in vehicle number 1 also captured 2nd place.

  • Vehicle No. 1: Asaga-Arakawa: 2nd in its class
  • Vehicle No. 2: Ratet-Garcin: 1st in its class

2003 25th; Telefonica-Dakar

This year's course started in Marseille, France, and crossed the African continent eastwards towards the finish line of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. This year was the first for the team to enter three vehicles, which also included a gasoline vehicle, with the heightened goal of capturing a group victory in the entire unmodified production group. Expectations were high for vehicle number 3 with new driver Katayama who had rich experience in many speed races. Unfortunately, the team was saddled with several problems right from the start. Particularly vexing was an electrical problem with the fuel pump that led to the engine not starting, and repeated air intake problems caused by the powder-like sand typical in volcanic regions. For the vehicle that entered the unmodified production class, the air cleaner opening was not permitted to be modified, leaving the only alternative of cleaning it carefully by hand. Finally in the 12th stage, this nightmarish adventure ended prematurely for vehicle number 3 as it flipped over and was forced to retire. However, vehicles 1 and 2 ran smoothly and continued their winning streak by finishing 1st-2nd in the unmodified production diesel class.

  • Vehicle No. 1: Asaga-Arakawa: 2nd in its class
  • Vehicle No. 2: Ratet-Garcin: 1st in its class
  • Vehicle No. 3: Katayama-Trouble: retired

2004 26th; Telefonica-Dakar

In its 10th year of participating in the Paris-Dakar Rally, Toyota Team Araco (Now TLC) departed the start in Clermont-Ferrand, France, in its quest for a 7th straight title. Continuing from the previous year, the team was made up of three vehicles. The vehicle number 3 team including driver Ukyo Katayama went to the Moroccan desert for training and vehicle testing during 2003. However, all three vehicles encountered minor problems and eventually had to retire. Vehicle number 3 continued valiantly with team Katayama-Arakawa battling on, but sadly had to retire just before reaching the finish line in the 16th stage. The percentage of vehicles finishing the race was at an unprecedented low, with only about 10% of vehicles in the unmodified production diesel class finishing the race. Although the number of consecutive victories ended at six, the team thoroughly analyzed the reasons behind the results and vowed to use this experience as an incentive for even greater future success.

  • Vehicle No. 1: Asaga-Ito: retired
  • Vehicle No. 2: Ratet-Lame: retired
  • Vehicle No. 3: Katayama-Arakawa: retired

2005 27th; Telefonica-Dakar

The Paris-Dakar team with three Land Cruiser 100s, which had competed until the previous year under the Toyota Team Araco flag, competed from this year as Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body. The previous year marked the team's 10th year of participation, but with all three vehicles retiring from the race and therefore this year served as an opportunity for redemption as team members were largely unchanged from the previous year. The only exceptions were an employee from Toyota Auto Body, Yasushi Numata, who was selected as navigator for vehicle number 3 and Hajime Ito, who had served in both roles as navigator and director, solely focused on his position as director. The three Toyota Land Cruisers maintained the lead in their class from the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea. The team continued to steadily improve their position as they entered the African stage, but then began to encounter trouble starting on the 7th day when the vehicles entered the desert stages. Despite this, the team overcame all problems and maintained their 1st-2nd-3rd position in the 9th stage and crossed the finish line in the same order. Finishing in the top three positions of the overall unmodified production group was a Dakar Rally first.

  • Vehicle No. 3: Asaga-Numata: 1st place
  • Vehicle No. 2: Ratet-Cattarelli: 2nd place
  • Vehicle No. 1: Katayama-Arakawa: 3rd place

2006 28th; Euromilhoes Dakar

Continuing from the previous year, TLC entered three Toyota Land Cruiser 100s for the race. The newly hired Yoshio Ikeda teamed with Daisuke Arakawa (Toyota Auto Body employee) in vehicle number 1, vehicle number 2 again featured the French combination of JJ Ratet and Bruno Cattarelli, and vehicle number 3 had the reigning champion pair of Toshinori Asaga and Yasushi Numata (also Toyota Auto Body employees). The three Land Cruiser 100s managed to navigate the European stage, which typically causes heavy damage to vehicles, without incident and headed to the African stage where it could demonstrate its ability. The first half of the race ended with Ratet's team in vehicle number 2 in first place and Ikeda's team in vehicle number 1 in second place of the T2 group, and vehicle number 3 rising to fourth place in the T2 diesel group. Unfortunately, vehicle number 3 later experienced problems and suffered damage to its rear differential and because the vehicle was entered in the unmodified production category, which prohibits changing major parts, the team was forced to remove it. Meanwhile, vehicles number 1 and 2 continued steadily and maintained their leads to again finish 1st-2nd in the T2 group and despite its problems, vehicle number 3 was able to finish the race 26th overall. The Land Cruisers were again able to demonstrate their toughness and high level of performance.

  • Vehicle No. 1: Ikeda-Arakawa: 2nd place
  • Vehicle No. 2: Ratet-Cattarelli: 1st place
  • Vehicle No. 3: Asaga-Numata: No placement within class; 26th overall

2007 29th; Euromilhoes Dakar

TLC again entered three Toyota Land Cruisers in this year's race. The lineup was changed from the previous year, with vehicle number 1 featuring Ratet-Cattarelli, Mitsuhashi and Miura (employee navigator) in vehicle number 2, and Yamada and Arakawa in vehicle number 3. In the 1st SS (Special Stage), the three were off to a good start placing themselves at 1st-2nd-3rd. On the last stage of the first half of the race on day 7, the vehicles faced a difficult stage of over 600 km of a varying terrain of pistes, off-roads, and dunes. However vehicle number 1 maintained third place, vehicle number 2 maintained first place, and vehicle number 3 was right behind at fourth place. While other vehicles ran viciously, the three TLC Toyota Land Cruiser 100s were still able to demonstrate their inherent high level of toughness. At the end of the 10th day, vehicle number 1 was in 2nd, vehicle number 2 in 1st, and vehicle number 3 in 4th position as excitement built up entering the final stage. Unfortunately on the 11th day, vehicle number 1 encountered machine problems that caused it to veer off course and encounter an accident. The other two vehicles kept a safe margin while continuing to push forward with vehicle number 2 finishing 4th in the end. Vehicle number 3, which had employed a strategy of backing up vehicle number 2, was even able to finish as 3rd. On January 21, vehicle number 2 won the unmodified production group which marked the 3rd consecutive victory for TLC in the same category, an achievement that had never before been accomplished. The rally concluded on the 15th day in the Dakar outskirts of Lac Rose.

  • Vehicle No. 1: Ratet-Cattarelli: retired in 11th stage
  • Vehicle No. 2: Mitsuhashi-Miura: 1st place
  • Vehicle No. 3: Yamada-Arakawa: 3rd place