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Parys 400 2023: Woolridge and Dreyer Score Fourth Podium of 2023 Season in Parys

  • Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (#277) finished fourth on Friday’s Round 4 of the SARRC in Parys, then went one better to claim third place in Saturday’s race
  • Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (#234) retired with a mechanical issue on Friday, but fought back to finish sixth overall at Round 5 on Saturday
  • NWM-supported privateers Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen (#241) finished seventh in class T1+ on Friday, and managed eighth place in Saturday’s race

The South African Rally Raid Championship (SARRC) raised the ante for competitors on 18 and 19 September 2023 by scheduling back-to-back races for rounds four and five of the 2023 season in the Free State town of Parys. The event lived up to all expectations of being a tough test for the teams and vehicles, with almost 750km of fierce competition playing out in the dry and extremely dusty winter conditions over the two days.

For championship leaders Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (#277) it was a crucial opportunity to score maximum points in their Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Ford Castrol T1+ Ranger. The opening 24km qualifying sprint for Friday’s race set the scene for a thrilling duel as they posted the third-fastest time, with team-mates Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (#234) matching their time – with mere seconds separating the top crews.

The main race, which comprised two loops of 173km each, unfortunately didn’t go to plan, as a mechanical problem sidelined Lance and Kenny just 13km into the opening stint. Gareth and Boyd were running as high as second place on the first lap until a rear CV joint failed, and they eventually had to stop to remove the driveshaft. Having to contend with two-wheel drive only, they dropped back to seventh by the time they returned to the pits for the mandatory 30-minute service where the driveshaft was replaced.

Gareth and Boyd were determined to recover lost time on the second loop, and they did just that, managing to fight their way up to fourth by the end of a tough and extremely fast race which saw all the teams regularly running on the regulated speed limiter of 170km/h – with an astonishing average speed of just under 100km/h for the entire loop which primarily comprised farmlands and some district roads.

The NWM-supported privateer Ranger team of Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen (#241) was classified 11th in qualifying, but made up good ground during the race to ultimately finish seventh in T1+.

The NWM technicians set about working on Lance’s car once it was returned to the pits to ensure it was ready for Round 5 of the SARRC on Saturday, which they only completed in the early hours of the morning in icy sub-zero temperatures.

Another short 18km qualifying stage on an entirely new route for Saturday saw Gareth and Boyd set the third-fastest time, with Lance and Kenny back in action. They qualified ninth, matching the time set by Wors and Andre in the privateer T1+ Ranger. However, the team found a sensor issue that couldn’t be resolved in the short time available, so they were down on power.

There was a thrilling battle at the front of the field throughout the main race which comprised two 170km loops, as the top crews traded places on numerous occasions. Gareth and Boyd pushed hard on the opening loop, but a damaged CV boot on the final lap meant they adopted a slightly more cautious pace for the remainder of the race to end third overall. This gave the young crew their fourth podium finish of the 2023 season. Based on the provisional results, they look set to retain the lead of the overall Production Vehicle and class T1+ championships with two rounds remaining.

“We had two very fast and tough races this weekend, and it was difficult to find any advantage without taking a lot of risk,” Gareth said. “We weren’t as strong as we had hoped to be, and this kind of terrain definitely seemed to suit our rivals better. However, a fourth and third keeps the championship battle alive, and I’m sure it will go right down to the wire.”

After the disappointment of dropping out on Friday Lance and Kenny were desperate to get back in the action, but they had to contend with reduced power which hampered their pace. They completed the two fast-paced loops without any issues and were rewarded with sixth place overall and some valuable championship points.

“We pushed as hard as we could today, but lost time on both loops due to the reduced performance,” Lance said. “The route was very high speed but also rough with lots of rocks in places that could easily catch you out, so it required lots of concentration which made it really tiring. But the important thing was that we had a clean race and scored good points, and Kenny was amazing today.”

Wors and Andre made it three T1+ NWM Rangers in the top 10. They suffered a damaged front brake disc early on the second loop, and subsequently had to rely on the handbrake alone to slow the car which made the remaining 100km extremely difficult. They soldiered on to bring the car home in a commendable eighth place in T1+.

“Overall I think we can be satisfied with our results today considering some of the challenges we’ve had this weekend, and it’s great to still have Gareth and Boyd in contention for the championship,” said team principal Neil Woolridge. “The tighter and more technical terrain definitely seems to suit our car better, but we will go back and see where we can improve for these fast open races and come back stronger.”

The next race takes place in Welkom, in the Free State, on 6 and 7 October 2023.

Source NWM Ford Castrol TEam

Parys 400 2023: Close battles and new winners mark Parys 400, round 5 of 2023 SARRC


The South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) continued in Parys on Saturday, August 19, with the second of the weekend’s double-headers events. This time the Parys 400 featured as Round 5 for the season, and was run as a full, standalone race. The double-header format has featured during the last few seasons, and brings some extra pressure for the teams, while also offering fans of rally-raid racing a double dose of action to be enjoyed over the course of a single weekend. For the crews taking part, this also means that there are double points on offer, and a good performance in Parys could well swing the eventual outcome of the championship.

Where the Friday of the race weekend was dry, largely windless and warm, the Saturday dawned crisp and cold, with an icy wind that chilled the spectators, but helped the competitors to find their way around the winding route as the dust cleared somewhat quicker than the day before. But, with an all-new route that featured fresh challenges, the race was always going to be a tough one, especially following directly after Round 4, which dealt many blows of its own to both the crews and their racing machines.

Saturday’s race comprised a Pirelli Qualifying Race of 18 kilometres, which started at 07:30 in the morning. This was followed by two race loops of 170 kilometres each, with the first getting under way at 09:30, starting from the Afridome in Parys.

Class T1+ saw Henk Lategan and co-driver Brett Cummings launch their TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA (TGRSA) Toyota DKR Hilux into the Pirelli Qualifying Race as the first car on the road, but they also made the most of the opportunity, setting the fastest time over the short route. They completed the 18 kilometres-long course in just 9min 19sec, which should have seen them well ahead of their nearest competitors.

Fouché Blignaut and brother Bertus, however, had a different agenda: The Lowveld pairing went second-fastest in the qualifier, finishing just 4sec adrift of the lead, in their brand-new #TeamHilux Toyota T1+. This was a moment of glory for both of them, but especially for driver Fouché, who rolled the new car during a shakedown on Thursday before the race. The team managed to repair the car in time for Friday’s fourth round, but it was at the start of Round 5 where the brothers clearly hit their stride. They were followed home by the NWM Ford Castrol Team’s Ranger of Gareth Woolridge and co-driver, Boyd Dreyer, who rounded out the qualifying podium, though they lagged 15sec behind the flying #TeamHilux crew.

For Lategan/Cummings, their hopes were dashed early in the day, when they incurred a 5min penalty for clocking in late, following some last-minute work to the gearbox of their car after the Pirelli Qualifying Race. This sent them tumbling down the order even before the starting flag dropped, and they were on the back foot for the rest of the day. Despite this setback, they fought back to a fighting fourth place overall, just 4min 58sec off the eventual winning time, leaving them to wonder what might have been, were it not for an errant sensor on the gearbox.

Navigational challenges kept TGRSA’s Saood Variawa and Danie Stassen at bay, with the fast-paced youngster attaining only the 5th position overall. This was only Variawa’s third national SARRC event, however, and there is no denying his considerable pace.


ford 20 8 w 1

On to the podium, where Woolridge/Dreyer kept their championship hopes alive, by bringing their Ford Ranger home in third place overall. A solid performance which was not without its challenges stood them in good stead, and the pair will be heading to Round 6 with high hopes for more of the same. Ahead of them, however, came defending SARRC champions, TGRSA’s Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy, who pipped the Ford crew by 2min 27sec.

But the men of the moment were undeniably TGRSA’s Guy Botterill and stand-in navigator, Zaheer Bodhanya. The crew drove a near-perfect race to give Botterill his first SARRC win, and Bodhanya the biggest smile in the history of SARRC racing. At the same time, Botterill’s regular navigator, Simon Vacy-Lyle, would be frustrated that he was unable to be in the car for the winning moment. While there’s no denying Botterill’s supremacy on the day, De Villiers/Murphy finished just 9sec behind after nearly 400 kilometres of racing, leaving them to ponder what might have been, had they not suffered a puncture during the qualifying race earlier in the day.
There was disappointment for two prominent Class T1+ crews, with the Blignault brothers forced to withdraw due to a broken gearbox, bringing an end to their fairytale fifth round; as well as their teammates, the Horn brothers, who had to retire their “Gifpyl”, thanks to a broken steering rack.

Class T1 has seen defending champions, #TeamHilux’s Eben Basson and Leander Pienaar, launch a serious assault on a second title. And they continued their relentless march with another win in the Pirelli Qualifying Race, clearly showing their intention to increase their lead at the top of the title standings. They had the International crew of Daniel Schröder and Ryan Bland on their tailpipes, however, just 3sec behind, in their Nissan Navara VK50. The qualifying podium was rounded out by Johan de Bruyn and Gerhard Schutte (Red-Lined REVO T1), who trailed second place by just 3sec.

The race itself, however, yielded a somewhat different result. Basson/Pienaar were sidelined when the normally reliable V8 engine of their Hilux lost
fuel pressure and power, and eventually gave up the ghost. They were towed into the DSP by a fellow competitor, resulting in exclusion from the final results. This opened the door for De Bruyn/Schutte to pounce and pounce they did – only to have their efforts undone by two penalties, incurred at road crossings.
As a result, Jurgen Schröder and Stuart Greggory claimed the points for Class T1 victory, while De Bruyn/Schutte had to settle for second place. They were the South African filling in an International sandwich, with the Dutch crew of Dave Klaassen and Tessa Rooth bringing their Red-Lined VK50 home in third place overall.

The field was somewhat smaller than usual, due to the withdrawal of Jayden Els and Elvéne Vonk in their King Price SVR following a broken differential in Round 4; and a massive roll during qualifying, which brought a premature end to Johan and Sean van Staden’s race. The Renault Duster crew emerged unharmed from the crash, though their car will need considerable repairs in preparation for the next event.

Class T saw only two entries for Round 5, with Schalk Burger and Henk Janse van Vuuren winning both the Pirelli Qualifying Race and the main event, in their King Price Xtreme Volkswagen Amarok. Their only competition, Hendrik and Heinrich du Plessis, completed the qualifier, but were forced to retire from the race due to a broken gearbox.

On the Special Vehicle side of proceedings, the results looked on course for a major upset, with LC de Jager and Rikus Hattingh (Porter) claiming victory in the Pirelli Qualifying Race. They finished the short course 27sec ahead of their nearest competitors, in the form of John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten, in their Zarco Challenger. But it was a close-run affair for second place, as defending champions and Round 4 winners, Tim Howes and Gary Campbell, were just 7sec behind, in third place in class A. Keith and Andrew Makenete went fourth-fastest in their BAT Makmobile.
Once the race itself got under way, however, the Parys 400 route claimed the scalps of De Jager/Hattingh; as well as Thomson/Zermatten, giving Howes/Campbell a clean shot at victory. They made the most of the opportunity, bringing their BAT Spec 4 home in first place. The Makenete brothers completed the race, earning a second place in the process.

And in Class G, it was Ian and Werner Mostert who set the initial pace during the morning’s Pirelli Qualifier. They had Geoff Minnitt and Rodney Burke just 40sec behind; while Glen Theron and Craig Galvin headed up a gaggle of Class G machines, which included the Can-Am Mavericks of Francois and Neil de Wit and Ewald van Rensburg, partnered with Johan Scheepers.

During the race itself, however, it was again Minnitt/Burke (HPE Can-Am Maverick) who crossed the line in first place, with Theron/Galvin (Moto-Netix Can-Am) in second. Van Rensburg/Scheepers rounded out the podium, with the Mosterts forced to settle for fourth.

With the season now clearly heading to its climax, the Parys 400 double-header may have already played a pivotal role in the outcome of the various championships. However, there are two races remaining in the 2023 season, and next up is Round 6, which takes place on 6 and 7 October, from Phakisa Raceway in the area surrounding the Free State town of Welkom.

Images: Plan C Productions
Source SARRC

MDC 2024: An anniversary edition

In 2024, our rally caravan will be crossing the desert for the 15th time. Something we're going to celebrate! (MDC 15 years / Gert 50 years).

What started in 2008 as a small adventure in Libya, due to the cancellation of the Dakar, has today grown into the 2nd largest rally-raid in the world and the largest rally on African soil.

Libya was just the very beginning, and although the beauty of the country could greatly charm the rally pioneers, after 2 editions the political situation no longer allowed international events to be organised there. After a brief sidestep into Tunisia in 2010 and 2012, we found our permanent base in Morocco in 2013. The next 7 editions, the number of participants grew and consequently so did the organisation. Until in March 2020, just before the start of the rally, the world went into lockdown. A year later, Morocco still kept its borders closed and Tunisia again offered a worthy alternative. But as powerful as the dunes of El Borma are, the lure of the more varied, Moroccan desert still proved stronger and after 2 editions in Tunisia, we finally returned to our favourite host country this year.

14 rallies in 3 different countries and a steady growth in participants gradually made the organisation more and more professional. Perfectly compiled road books, navigation with the GPS UNIK by ERTF, Sentinel, Iritrack, and FIA/FIM standards in terms of safety are part of the basis of the high-quality competition we have been able to organise for several years now. But we don't do all that without losing sight of our roots and original concept. The team spirit, camaraderie, the focus on amateurs and the atmosphere in the bivouac remain equally important pillars. We will remain true to our values, including next year, during our 15th Anniversary Edition.


More than two weeks ago we opened registrations for the Morocco Desert Challenge 2024. Partly thanks to the return to the legendary “Coast to Coast” route, we can already count on great interest. The pre-corona hype of a few years ago, in which no less than 707 people registered on August 1, may have died down somewhat, but the new figures already seem to be evolving towards a “full house” edition in April 2024. (The limit of 200 on the maximum number of competition vehicles will also contribute).

The fastest decision makers this year are the motorcyclists. Thanks to the online marketing efforts of Nomade Racing, Desert Rose Racing and Nomadas Adventures, this category is already 60% full today.

Registrations of the Side-by-Side vehicles are also going smoothly, reaching today around 50% of the total capacity. (Special thanks to ZZ Kustom with a large number of Swiss participants). The first 25 racing cars and trucks have also registered. In other words: “2024 will be fine!”

There are still enough seats available, but those who also want to register at the cheapest rate should not wait too long. The discount rate is only valid for 1 month and ends irrevocably on August 31, 2023 at midnight.






Source MDC

Parys 400 2023: TGRSA heads to Parys double-header as 2023 SARRC continues

Parys 400 is a double round valid for the South African Rally Raid Championship

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa (TGRSA) will be heading to the Free State town of Parys, for Rounds 4 and 5 of the 2023 South African Rally-Raid Championship season (SARRC) this weekend, with the aim of scoring maximum points towards the championship. All four crews will be doing battle once again, with the unique format of the weekend adding extra pressure.

“We had a disappointing outing at our home race in Botswana last month,” says TGRSA Team Principal, Glyn Hall of SVR Hallspeed. “As such, we now find ourselves with a bit of work to do this weekend, and we’ll be aiming to get as many of our cars onto the podium as possible. With that said, this weekend is a double-header, with two rounds of the championship taking place on one weekend, so while there are effectively double points on offer, the challenge is also considerably bigger than usual.”

The Parys 400 features two full rounds of the 2023 SARRC, with a qualifying race and two race loops scheduled for this Friday. Another qualifying race, followed by two race loops, take place on Saturday, with the full complement of points available in each round.

“This means that we have to complete Round 4 on Friday, then repair all four cars as needed overnight, so that we can go racing again on Saturday,” continues Hall. “While we as a team are quite used to the pressure thanks to our considerable experience in the Dakar Rally, it may still be a big ask, depending on how much damage the cars sustain on Friday.”

TGRSA will again be fielding four cars this weekend, with the same crews as in last month’s TGRSA 1,000 Desert Race. Henk Lategan and co-driver, Brett Cummings, continue to lead the charge for the team. The former champions are in second place in the Production Vehicle Championship after three rounds, just 15 points behind the leader, Gareth Woolridge (Ford).

While Lategan/Cummings will be looking to reel in the crew ahead of them, teammates Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy will be keen to improve on their own third-place in the title fight. They are just 3 points adrift of the Toyota Hilux T1+ crew ahead of them, and with the points for two rounds on offer this weekend, the fight within the team may well be one to keep an eye on.

As if the tussle between De Villiers and Lategan isn’t enough, the team’s third car will again be in the hands of Guy Botterill and co-driver, Simon Vacy-Lyle this weekend. This pairing has shown significant pace this year, and are just 7 points behind De Villiers/Murphy, so a three-way fight within TGRSA is a strong possibility.

While not part of the championship fight, youngster Saood Variawa and his experienced co-driver, Danie Stassen, will be fielding a fourth Toyota Hilux this weekend. Variawa took part in his first national rally-raid event last month, and showed exceptional speed and skill. He will be looking to score his first points for the team this weekend, and if his Desert Race performance is anything to go by, the teams at the head of the field may just have to watch their backs in Parys.

As has been the case throughout the 2023 season to date, Toyota will also be represented by a number of fast privateers, driving in the T1+ and T1 classes. Notably, brothers Fouche and Bertus Blignaut will be in action in their brand new Class T1+ Toyota Hilux, while defending Class T1 champions, Eben Basson and Leander Pienaar, will be looking to extend their lead at the top of the table.

This weekend’s racing will get under way at 7:30 on Friday morning, with a qualifying race to determine the starting positions for the Round 4 main event. This follows at 9:30 on Friday morning, while a new route will be used for Saturday’s Round 5, which also starts with a qualifying race at 7:30, and the main event at 9:30.

Source Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa

Parys 400 2023: NWM Ford Castrol Team Aiming to Build on Desert Race Victory at Parys Double-Header

Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (#277) lead the SARRC T1+ Production Vehicle championship in EcoBoost V6-powered T1+ NWM Ford Ranger after Desert Race victory
Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (#234) aiming to build on the momentum after finishing second overall in Botswana
Privateer team of Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen (#241) hoping for strong result after showing impressive pace in debut season with the T1+ Ranger

Coming off the high of an impressive one-two finish at the tough 1 000km Botswana Desert Race in June 2023, the Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Ford Castrol Team is relishing the opportunity to get back in the action at the Parys 400 – a double-header for rounds four and five of the extremely competitive South African Rally Raid Championship (SARRC) on 18 and 19 August.

Gareth Woolrige and Boyd Dreyer (#277) scored a popular victory in their EcoBoost V6-powered T1+ NWM Ford Ranger at the three-day Botswana marathon race, and are looking forward to returning to the Free State event where they earned their first overall SARRC win last year.

The Desert Race victory handed the young pair the championship advantage, and they currently lead the Production Vehicle title chase with 86 points, 15 ahead of the Toyota crew of Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings, and a further three points ahead of third-placed Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy (Toyota).

Gareth and Boyd will have an extra boost of confidence after having competed at the Baja Spain Aragon in July. They finished a commendable 11th overall in their T1+ Ranger against the top rally raid competitors in the world. Two-time Dakar Rally winner Nani Roma and co-driver Alex Haro were classified 6th overall in the second T1+ Ranger, with this crucial outing forming part of the build-up to the 2024 Dakar Rally for the NWM, M-Sport and Ford Performance joint venture.

NWM Ford Castrol team-mates Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (#234) secured their first podium of the SARRC season by finishing as runners-up in Botswana. This gave them a solid points haul and placed them fifth in the Production Vehicle battle on 41 points – just 20 points behind the Toyota crew of Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle.

Accordingly, the double-header in Parys will be vital in adding to the points tally for Lance and Kenny, hopefully moving them up the rankings during the second half of the season.

“All the hard work, intensive testing and long hours the team has put into the development of our T1+ Ranger have certainly paid off, and this sets the scene for a thrilling remainder of the 2023 season,” says team principal Neil Woolridge.

“Having just come back from Spain where Gareth and Boyd finished 11th, and ran as high as second in one of the stages until they lost time near the end with a puncture, shows just how competitive we are this year, both locally and internationally,” Neil says.

“Going into the Parys event leading the overall SARRC Production Vehicle and T1+ rankings is fantastic for the team, and the back-to-back races in Parys will be an important opportunity to continue building on this momentum. We have no doubt that our rivals will come out with all guns blazing, so we will be giving it everything for this event,Neil adds.

The NWM-supported privateer team of Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen (#241) are also eager to capitalize on the two races in Parys, having shown impressive pace in their first season with the T1+ Ranger.

As two full one-day races, the action kicks off on Friday 18 August, with the race headquarters and designated service park (DSP) located at the Afridome Showgrounds on the outskirts of Parys. Competitors will complete a 32km qualifying sprint (including 8km of liaison), starting at 07:30. The top 10 finishers then do a draw to determine starting positions for the main race. This is followed by the full race loop of 173km which commences at 09:30 and is repeated twice, split by a mandatory 30-minute service interval.

A separate route is lined up for the Saturday race which follows a similar format, including a 16km qualifying race with 13km of liaison. The main race loop comprises 190km (with 20km liaison), once again completed twice with a service stop in between.

Fans can follow all the action and track the position of the crews throughout each of the 2023 season’s seven races using the RallySafe app, which can be downloaded free of charge for iOS and Android devices from the relevant app stores.

2024 Dakar Rally

Ford Performance is set to expand its global motorsports effort by competing in the legendary Dakar Rally, one of the toughest off-road competitions on Earth.

The purpose-built, race-ready Ford Ranger will compete in the 2024 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia in the Rally Raid T1+ class. Ford Performance is collaborating in a comprehensive test and development program with M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport to prepare for what is expected to be an extremely tough challenge come January 2024.

Source: NWM Ford Castrol Team

As a service to the sport we all love and follow, Rally-Raid Network posts numerous media releases from a wide variety of sources on our website. Due to the large number, and some times short time available, it is nearly impossible to review each public release. These articles are written by reporters or press officers who work for various organizers, teams, drivers, riders, and other parties, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Rally-Raid Network.