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HiLux Rally Car on Open Country R/Ts

HiLuxes are renowned for dependability in the dirt but Team JAOS have taken that to the extreme with their latest “rally raid machine”, rolling on Open Country R/Ts.

With 4 years of competing in the Asia Cross Country Rally (AXCR) championship under their belt, Team JAOS have come a long way, starting out in a Toyota FJ Cruiser in 2015 that was built as a demo car for their off-the-shelf 4x4 products before importing a Toyota HiLux from Thailand to get a bit more serious in their 2016 season, developing parts for a platform that was not sold in Japan at the time.

What would have been Team JAOS’ 5th season of AXCR has been postponed until August 2021 due to COVID-19 but what could be seen as a setback is instead being used to continue development of their race car and products for the HiLux more broadly as popularity grows following its return to the Japanese domestic market in late 2017 after a 13-year hiatus.

Team JAOS previously raced on M/T-style tyres and their driver, Tomonori Noto, was initially concerned about whether the Open Country R/T could handle the rigours of rally driving with what appeared to be a less aggressive pattern, but he was pleasantly surprised during testing.

“The traction is excellent, especially in dirt,” says Noto-san, who also works in JAOS Corporation’s product planning department. 

“Steering and braking are easy to handle with these tyres,” Noto-san continues. “It feels easy to drive in any kind of situation because of the direct response. In off-road conditions, there are various situations, such as mud, rock and dirt. I feel that [the Open Country R/T] handles better than the M/T in most of these conditions besides mud.”

Using the Open Country M/T’s ultra-heavy-duty construction for extreme puncture resistance but with a tighter tread pattern that makes small sacrifices in self-cleaning to reduce tread flex and increase response, it’s no surprise that the Open Country R/T is working well for Team JAOS in motorsport.

Noto-san’s comments about stronger performance on all surfaces other than mud is similar to the real-world comments of extreme 4WDers who were previously forced to use M/Ts to maximise puncture resistance but have made the switch to the Open Country R/T, which is just as durable but better matched to the broad range of off-road obstacles found in Australia.

Nothing beats a muddy in soft, sticky terrain where self-cleaning is paramount but if you’re not one to go hunting for the next bog hole, we’d suggest considering the Open Country R/T as a rugged-terrain tyre that can handle just about anything, from rock crawling to the road back home and even flat-out rally driving!