Toyota Hiace Defies Prejudices with Outstanding Rally Performance

Devs Baffled With Hiace’s Performance

As I started driving my first try at the full throttle section, I realized that this is very far from an ordinary rally machine.

No loads on the rear means excessive load on the front. Whenever I brake, the load distribution becomes 90:10 for the front and rear. The wheels seem to take off at most uphill corners, as I had a fluffy feeling.

On downhill corners, I felt like I might fall over if I pushed too hard. I started to feel that this way a bad idea, to be honest. Whatever I did, I couldn’t speed up.

However, I heard that Kitami-san, the engineer who developed the rally-spec Hiace) drove 12 seconds faster than my time at a short 4 km SS. I can’t lose this.

I always think I can do better whenever I hear the others doing their best. After my third try, I started to understand this car.

I decided to attack gradually, and to my surprise, I’ve recorded 12.5 seconds faster than my first try. Getting carried away, and I’ve improved my time by almost 20 seconds from SS4. Above all, I started to enjoy driving this car.

Of course, there’s still tons of work to do. The transmission used is a commercial spec 5-speed, meaning the 1st gear is useless for starting. 2nd gear is close to 1st gear, which leads the engine immediately revving up to the red zone. 3rd gear is so far away that you start to think as if the engine stalled whenever I upshift from 2nd.

On the other hand, it turns out that corners are quite good. Excessive load on the front could be avoided by braking wisely, and applying lateral G’s gently at corners helped me find the limits.

Kunisawa’s Hiace competing in the Japanese Rally Championship
Kunisawa’s Hiace competing in the Japanese Rally Championship

The overall behavior of the car was also calm. I think this is due to great quality of the suspensions made by CAST, which are often used in rally cars. Before I even knew it, I was attacking the narrow roads in forest like a true rally machine.

Of course, what’s most important is my record. Overall time was not good enough to reach the JN-6 class. Nevertheless, in SS9, I was able to set the third fastest record among the five JN-6 class cars. If I were able to drive througth all SS like this, nobody would be mad at competing the championship using this car.

There’s still lots of work to be done, like improving the gears. I know the road trains us, and this van can go faster.

What was most interesting is the voice I heard from the engineering team of the car.

They’ve contacted me when they saw my article about competing the race with the van. They said they were shocked when they first saw a video of me driving the van, and needed a while to understand what actually was going on.

Now I’ve got a goal. I really want to make this van the world’s fastest delivery van in rallying.