In a world where automotive innovation meets the impossible. A Welsh South African proved the world’s best.
Motorsport is unfair and expensive. Beyond the technical rulebook, there is a nasty reality: money wins races.
If you can buy the best components and engineers, you’ll probably have the best car. Hire the best driver – and you are assured of a win.
Mercedes-Benz has dominated F1 racing by having an enormous budget, legions of talented technical people and Lewis Hamilton. The question is: can a humble team win?
There are many examples of talented engineering in the production car realm, especially this last decade, as driver assistance systems and electrification has come on-trend. But nowhere are extreme technical solutions required, with the same calibre of intensity, then off-road racing.
You’d expect South Africans to be good at off-road racing: we have the obsession with bakkies and terrain to test them. But building a South African bakkie racer, to compete with the best, most sophisticated and lavishly funded European and American racing teams? Unlikely.
This is why Glyn Hall is our automotive engineer of the decade. Starting with an amazing second-place effort on its debut in 2013. Hall’s locally designed and built Hilux racing bakkies have evolved to become the most respected off-road racing vehicles of the decade.
With V8 engines and a recognisable profile, they are crowd favourites. Hall has navigated complicated and biased rule changes to advance his Hilux racer’s design. To the begrudging respect of many rivals.
Punctuating Hall’s achievement has been a steadfast belief in his concept. He has deliberately moved components around the Hilux V8, to perfect its balance – something which is crucial for a vehicle that will fly off dune edges at speed.Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of his obsessive attention to detail has been making it all last. It is no good having one great automotive design feature, whilst another feature is neglected and fails.
Managing a local team and dreaming big
Glyn Hall has built South Africa’s most iconic vehicle into a world-beating racer. It is also a testament to the fabrication skills and dedication of South African technical labour, that the Hilux V8 bakkie racer has become such a successful export project, with demand from many international off-road racing teams.
Theoretically, Glyn Hall’s Hilux V8 racer concept should never have worked. It was always going to be very heavy, due to a huge fuel burden to power that naturally-aspired V8. That would negatively impact on brake wear too, but Hall knew that excellently resolved details would always triumph. A lot of perfect little technical solutions, which is exactly what he managed to achieve with the Hilux V8 racer.
If you imagined in 2010, that a locally designed and built bakkie would be the best off-road racing vehicle in the world by 2019, you’d be prescribed reality medication.
The only prescription Glyn Hall needed, was some time.