The Dakar Rally is one of the most famous – and famously gruelling – races on the planet.

    Therefore its production car category is a good way to put the still-new Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series through its paces – albeit with a few modifications.

    Toyota Auto Body, a manufacturing subsidiary of Toyota, has been running LandCruiser 200s at the iconic event, but for the 2023 Dakar Rally it moves to the new model.

    The 2023 Dakar kicks off on December 31 on the outskirts of Yanbu in western Saudi Arabia, finishing in Dammam in the east on January 15 – after 16 days and 15 stages.

    How does the Dakar Team LandCruiser 300 GR Sport differ from the one you can buy?

    While the category demands production vehicles be used, there are features such as a roll cage, six-point seatbelts, larger-capacity (350L!) fuel tank, and fire extinguishers. Not to mention three spare tyres and a heap of tools.

    Beyond all this and the sponsor stickers, the 300 GR Sports get a snorkel, forged magnesium wheels supplied by Enkei, chunky Toyo Open Country tyres, new springs and shocks, sturdy tow hooks, and hardcore underbody bash plating.

    All that weight, sand and heat require some serious braking. Thus there are higher-performance pads, and new independent boosterless master cylinders for the front and rear brakes.

    Importantly from a factory testing perspective, the replacement of major parts such as transmissions and differentials are not permitted during the rally.

    However, the factory engine and transmission have been tweaked. The F33A-FTV 3.3-litre diesel V6 has been tuned to produce 253kW and 815Nm (the engine in the road version has 227kW and 700Nm).

    The LandCruiser 300 Dakar racer also retains the familiar Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (E-KDSS).

    Car brands love to test out their rugged 4x4s in lightly modified form in racing conditions. Another example is Ford’s recent victory at the Baja 1000 with a near-stock Ranger Raptor made in Australia.

    • Engine code: F33A-FTV
    • Displacement: 3345cc
    • Maximum output: ≥ 253kW
    • Maximum torque: ≥ 815Nm
    • Front suspension: Double wishbone independent coil springs
    • Rear suspension: Trailing-link with coil springs
    • Shock absorbers: Exclusive rally part
    • Brakes: Front/rear ventilated disc (pads made by Endless)
    • Transmission: Electronically controlled 10-speed automatic
    • Tyres: 285/70R17 (Toyota Open Country M/T-R)
    • Wheels: Forged magnesium 17-inch x 7.5J (Enkei)
    • Drivetrain: Full-time 4WD
    • Diff: Electronic locking differential (front/centre/rear)
    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers