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Cooper Tire backs Toyota Dakar Rally squad

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Cooper Tire Europe will compete in next year’s Dakar Rally after sealing an agreement with Dakar veteran, Spaniard Xavier Foj.

Foj and co-driver, Argentine Pablo Jaton, will compete in a Toyota Land Cruiser KXR, built by Jaton’s brother, in the Toyota Cooper Tire team, using Cooper’s rugged Discoverer STT rubber for the famously arduous 9000km event.

It will be the second year that Foj has used Cooper’s STT, renowned for its outstanding off-road traction and durability, for the Dakar. Last year, he finished second in the T2 class for production vehicles, with no punctures or tyre problems.

Foj is a former winner of the production class and believes that his Cooper Discoverer STT tyres can carry him to a return to class victory - in 18 years of Dakar racing, Foj has won once before, in 1999.

Foj said, “With a little shaving off of the height of the lugs, we will prevent the wheel track from scraping the surface of the dunes a little less and we shall optimise the engine power a little more but nevertheless, the main quality of these tyres is their tremendous versatility.

“I can lower the pressure to 0.6 bar without fear of the tyre coming off its rim and can even cover the odd section of track or link to another area of sand without the need to inflate again.

“They are outstanding due to their reliability and great capacity for adapting to any type of terrain, which is fundamental in a rally such as the Dakar where, in one single special stage, you can drive on very different surfaces. Last year, they definitely played an essential part in the second place obtained in the T2 group and I hope that this year, with the small improvements we have made, they will help us go even higher.”

The Toyota Cooper Tires team will fit 255/75R15 and 245/75R15 STTs to the KXR for the event, in which competitors tackle soft sandy dunes as well as tough, rocky terrain.

The event, held between January 1-17, 2010, will be the second running of the Dakar in South America and the route, which takes competitors across the Atacama Desert, is believed to be one of the toughest in history.

Cooper Tire Europe’s sales and marketing director, Jorge Crespo, said, “Obviously, small modifications have been made to both car and tyres to improve their behaviour in high-level competition. However, we are fully convinced that the Discoverer STTs will again demonstrate their quality for all-terrain driving as well as their enormous versatility and strength.”