Round four and five of the 2022 South African Rally-Raid Championship that take place on 30 September and 1 October at NAMPO PARK on the outskirts of Bothaville in the Free State, will be a tough and challenging double bill for competitors and teams as there will be no time to sit back and relax.
With two rounds of the SARRC taking place over two consecutive days and only one event (another two rounds) remaining for the season, lots of points and national titles are at stake, and putting a wheel wrong could result in disappointment with not much time remaining to make up for lost ground.
In the extremely competitive Production Vehicle Category, the battle at the front will continue between the defending and former champions and Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team-mates, Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings and Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy in identical Toyota DKR Hilux T1+ vehicles, and a second victory this season for De Villiers/Murphy will put them on par with their rivals. And with team-mates, Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle and Shameer Variawa/Danie Stassen, currently also on the overall and FIA T1+ podiums, the Free State event is sure to produce a battle to the bitter end.
There are, however, various teams that have proved they can be a gnarly thorn in the side and it might be sensible for teams aiming for titles, to keep an eye on these players. In FIA T1+ the Horn brothers, Johan and Werner (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid) have come to grips with their Toyota DKR Hilux T1+, while Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (NWM Ford Castrol T1+ Ranger) have shown their pace during the season. Brother Lance and Elvéne Vonk, in an identical Ranger have been plagued by mechanical maladies and a finish for them will get the monkey off their backs and mean the first points on the scoreboard.
Consistency, speed and reliability has been the name of the game for FIA T1 teams who find themselves between the frontrunners in the overall championship. Eben Basson/Leander Pienaar (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid Toyota Hilux) are the team to beat in FIA T1 and another victory – or two – will strengthen their lead in the championship. The German father and son, in command of two Nissan Navaras, Daniel Schröder and navigator, Ryan Bland as well as dad, Jürgen and motorbike specialist, Stuart Gregory, will again be in action with Daniel/Ryan fighting for top honours from their second place in the class while keeping the rest of the teams at bay.
The rest of the chasing contingent include the four Red-Lined Motorsport teams of Philip Botha/Roelof Janse van Vuren and Johan de Bruyn/Gerhard Schutte in VK56 vehicles as well as Chris Visser/Albertus Venter and Dubai visitor, Thomas Bell together with Wade Harris in REVO machines. Gary Bertholdt/Juan Möhr (Toyota Hilux) will hope for less bad luck and more points while another good finish will also go down well for Nicholas Pienaar/Carl Swanepoel (Super Energi Race Fuels Red-Lined VK50); Schalk Burger/Henk Janse van Vuuren (King Price Xtreme Mercedes Benz) as well as Richard Leeke/Zaheer Bodhanya (Leeke Motorsport). The Blignaut brothers, Fouche and Bertus (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid Toyota) will also be back in action after a disappointing outing on the recent #TeamHilux Rally-Raid Bronkhorstspruit.
The new FIA T1.2 Class for 2-wheel drive vehicles sees two teams on identical points in the lead, with Lance Trethewey/Leonard Cremer (King Price Xtreme CR6) standing a chance to extend their lead over Brian Baragwanath/Rodney Burke as the names of the latter do not appear on the entry list yet. And another good result after a class victory at the recent #TeamHilux Rally-Raid Bronkhorstspruit for Ernest Roberts/Henry Köhne (JCP Steel Supplies CR6), could see the pair move up a notch or two.
Their team-mates, Malcolm and Frans Kock (JCP Steel Supplies CR6) will again be back in action as will Dewald van Breda with stand-in navigator Adriaan Roets (CR6), while the adventure athlete Simon Murray, now sharing the WCT HT2 Toyota Hilux Turbo cockpit with Achim Bergman, will have his eye set on another helping of points in only his second outing of the season.
Four Class T teams have entered, with youngster Jayden Els and navigator Armand du Toit (King Price Xtreme Renault Duster) aiming for a hat-trick of victories to extend their championship lead. They will be hard chased by the current runner-up, Christo Rose (Neil Woolridge Motorsport Ford Ranger) who teams up with Tiaan Swart after his regular navigator, Arno Olivier, was injured when he fell off a roof. Veteran Johan van Staden and his son, Sean (KEC Racing Renault Duster) will be joined by newcomers to the SA Rally-Raid Championship, Hendrik and Heinrich du Plessis in the championship winning ex Kock Ford Ranger.
The action on both days takes place from NAMPO PARK where the Race Headquarters, the Start/Finish as well as the Designated Service Park (DSP) will be situated. On both days, competitors will take on the short Pirelli Qualifying Race at 07:30 to determine the starting order for the race that will start at 09:30. For both events, the op 10 qualifiers will draw their starting positions for races that will consist of a 166 kilometre loop and a 172 kilometre loop on Friday and Saturday respectively to be completed twice separated by a compulsory 30 minute service break on each day.
The SA Rally-Raid Championship shares the stage with the NAMPO ALFA Expo over the weekend. Spectators are welcome with public parking and access to the venue via the northern entrance and subject to the Expo admission fee, which includes access to all exhibits including the DSP area.
The event can also be followed on the RallySafe App, which can be downloaded free from the iStore and Google PlayStore.
Published by: SA National Cross Country Series – Charmaine Fortune
Photography by: Andre Schoeman
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