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Sugarbelt 400 2023: Red-Lined Revo scores seventh straight podium

Five consecutive T1 wins for Red-Lined Motorsport

Red-Lined Motorsport’s dreamy 2023 season continued apace as Nicholas Pienaar and Carl Swanepoel steered their new Supa Energi fuelled Red-Lined REVO to their maiden South African Rally-Raid Championship Class T1 victory in the KwaZulu Natal Sugarbelt 400 over the weekend. The result wraps up a fourth win and seventh consecutive podium for the new Red-Lined T1 REVO since its debut in the SA National Championship last year.

Pienaar and Swanepoel kept out of trouble throughout the extremely tough and challenging conditions to emerge a splendid sixth overall, and victorious in another hard-fought T1 class battle. The result also moves them to the top of the T1 championship log. The Dragon Energy REVO T1+ entry of Chris Visser and Albertus Venter, fought a tough battle from the back of the field after a puncture in qualifying to follow in seventh overall and sixth in the premier T1+ Class.

This was followed by another great result for 18-year-old Aliyyah Koloc and Riaan Greyling on debut in the Buggyra Racing Red-Lined VK50. Aliyyah was delighted to finish her first race in a T1 car with a sixth in class. An incredible achievement driving a completely new race car in unfamiliar terrain, and with a new navigator alongside her in the hot seat. Seventh in the T1 class was however a hard pill to swallow for OdorCure REVO T1 duo Johan de Bruyn and Gerhard Schutte, who had challenged for the T1 win during the first loop before losing considerable time to repair a damaged oil cooler late in the final loop.

“The Sugarbelt 400 continues an incredible start to the season for us at Red-Lined Motorsport,” team boss Terence Marsh explained. “First off, this weekend wraps up four wins for our new T1 REVO, with three of these races won by different teams. Chris Visser and Albertus Venter won the last race of 2022 aboard our REVO prototype, while Johan de Bruyn and Gerhard Schutte, and now Nicholas Pienaar and Carl Swanepoel have now followed with REVO T1 wins in the first two races of 2023.

“Johan and Gerhard also won the penultimate T1 race of the 2022 season in their Red-Lined VK56, so that’s five T1 wins for Red-Lined Motorsport, and seven podium finishes in the last seven South African National Rally-Raid events. That’s of course on top of a 2023 Dakar T1 class 1-2 and a growing list of other international Red-Lined successes so far this year.

So, congratulations to Nicholas and Carl on a well-deserved maiden victory. Chris and Albertus came back brilliantly, Aliyyah made a brilliant T1 debut alongside Riaan in really challenging conditions, and Johan and Gerhard were quick all weekend, even if their result does not quite show it.

“The Sugarbelt 400 was another tough race in incredibly technical conditions and our race cars once again starred, so it’s always important to remember our entire Red-Lined technical team who work so tirelessly behind the scenes. Well done, once again, to one and all for an incredible team effort!”

Red-Lined Motorsport returns to action in the annual Desert Race, which returns to Botswana following a few lockdown seasons in Upington over the weekend of 23 to 25 June.


*Red-Lined Motorsport competes with premium strategic partners, the Penta Motor Group, BFGoodrich, Motul, Dragon Energy, PentaSure, OMP, ExpandaSign and Wheel Collision.


Source Red-lined Motorsport via Motorsport Media

Sugarbelt 400 2023: TGRSA celebrates solid one-two finish at Sugarbelt 400

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa (TGRSA) marked an impressive one-two finish at the Sugarbelt 400, the second round of the 2023 South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC).

Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings, TGRSA's leading crew, clinched the victory, navigating the challenging course in a time of 5hr 18min 51sec. Despite facing several obstacles, they showcased exceptional performance and resilience to secure their triumph.

"It was a lot tougher to open the route during qualifying than we expected, and we lost some time there," shared race-winner Lategan. "The first race loop went very well, until we slid off the road while reversing after an overshoot. We were wedged against a tree and lost some time extricating the GR DKR Hilux T1+, but we got going again."

The crew also suffered a puncture shortly after this incident, which further delayed their progress. They also faced a problem with the front differential, finishing the first loop with a deficit of 1min to the leaders.

Lategan and Cummings didn't let the issues hold them back, however. They pushed extremely hard during the second loop, managing to make up enough time to secure victory, despite suffering a second puncture. "We fought our way back during the second loop," Lategan added. "Our team's determination and hard work paid off, and we are thrilled to have secured the win."

Hot on their heels, teammates Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy finished a mere 3min 16sec behind, securing a solid second place. The final crew in the TGRSA line-up, Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle, narrowly missed the podium, finishing in a commendable fourth place overall.

"I am immensely proud of our crews for having shown grit, determination, and a strong fighting spirit," said Glyn Hall, TGRSA Team Principal. "Despite facing some challenges, they stayed focused and brought home outstanding results."

The Sugarbelt 400 course, set in the beautiful and rugged terrain around the town of Eston in KwaZulu-Natal, posed its unique challenges. The race wound through sugarcane fields and plantations, testing the mettle of all participants.

With the Sugarbelt 400 now in the past, TGRSA is shifting its focus to the next challenge: the TGRSA 1000 Desert Race. Known as the longest and toughest motorsport event on the African continent, this race is also a 'home race' for TGRSA, as the team also serves as the title sponsor for the event.

"We are looking forward to the TGRSA 1000 Desert Race, and we are keen to maintain our momentum," Hall added. "This year, the race is moving back to Botswana, where it will be run in the area around the southern town of Jwaneng. Our crews are up to the challenge, and we are excited to see what the next round holds for us."


Source TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa

Subarbelt 400 2023: Second Consecutive Podium for Woolridge and Dreyer at Sugarbelt 400

  • Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (#277) finish third at Sugarbelt 400 in Eston, KwaZulu-Natal in the EcoBoost V6-powered T1+ NWM Ford Ranger
  • Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (#234) had a challenging weekend but showed good pace, recovering to finish seventh in T1+


Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer proved that they are serious contenders for the South African Rally-Raid Championship title this year following an impressive performance at this weekend’s Sugarbelt 400 in Eston, KwaZulu-Natal, which earned them a second consecutive podium.

The Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Ford Castrol crew proved their potential, as well as that of the EcoBoost V6-powered T1+ Ranger, on Friday’s 52km qualifying loop by blitzing the short but intense sprint through the sugarcane plantations that define this scenic farming area. They completed the qualifying sprint in a time of 42 min 49 sec after a faultless run – a substantial 01:13 quicker than second-placed Toyota rivals Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy, and a further two seconds ahead of the second Toyota of Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings.

Their advantage was ultimately cut back to just four seconds after the qualifying sprint was recalculated to end at the 20.29km mark following a fire that blocked the route for several competitors. NWM Ford Castrol team-mates Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert slotted into third place overnight based on the revised times, just seven seconds adrift of De Villiers/Murphy, and a mere one second ahead of Lategan/Cummings.

Saturday saw the exciting battle at the sharp end of the field gain further momentum as Gareth and Boyd completed the opening 162km loop in the lead after a fast and trouble-free run – with a useful margin of 59 seconds to Lategan/Cummings, and 04:43 ahead of De Villiers/Murphy.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan for Lance and Kenny, as a navigation error cost them considerable time and they dropped down the running order.

Punctures afflicted several of the top competitors on the second 162km loop, and this included Gareth and Boyd as they had to replace a tyre with 50km remaining. With less than a minute separating the NWM Ford Ranger pair from the lead at the final split, the thrilling tussle faded as they picked up a problem on the front brakes with just 30km to go.

Having to rely solely on the handbrake to slow the vehicle, Gareth and Boyd fought tenaciously right to the finish, and were rewarded with third place overall. They lost out on second place by just 14 seconds to De Villiers/Murphy after almost 350km of high-paced action, with the win going to Lategan/Cummings. This was the NWM Ford Castrol crew’s second podium on the trot, after securing the runner-up spot at the season-opening race in Malalane.

“It was great to win the qualifying race yesterday, and we started today strong and found a good rhythm on the first loop,” Gareth said. “We were even quicker on loop two and it was going really well until we got the puncture. We then had the brake issue which cost us a lot of time, so finishing third is a good result all considered.

“For our local championship, it’s really exciting that the top teams are very evenly matched. Today was a proper race, especially amongst the three of us up front. We all had a laugh at the end and agreed that it was extremely close, which is nice to see,Gareth added.

Lance and Kenny’s first loop navigation error was compounded by an issue with the rear differential, which the team elected to replace at the mandatory 30-minute service stop. They incurred a further 15 minutes of lateness making the change, but fortunately had a clear and impressively fast run through the second loop, bringing the NWM Ranger home 12th overall and seventh in T1+.

“It was a tough weekend for us after the navigation mistake this morning, but Kenny and I are learning together which is our goal for this year,” Lance said. “On the second lap we had a perfect run without a single mistake and got into a really nice groove, so Kenny is very quickly getting to grips with the road book and GPS navigation.

“We also stopped to pull out Eben Basson and Leander Pienaar after they overshot a corner, and were happy to return the favour after they helped me at the Parys event last year,” Lance said. “We are looking forward to the Desert Race in Botswana, as that’s the big one and we have a lot of work planned for the cars, but the pace we had this weekend is very exciting for us.”

It was a positive result for NWM team principal, Neil Woolridge. “We’re always working on the car with upgrades and evolutions, and all the effort the team has put into it this year is really showing, as we’ve been very competitive in both of the opening races, which is very encouraging.

“Our joint development project with M-Sport is also bearing fruit, as we learn a lot about the car every time we go testing together,” Neil said. “Last week we completed around 3 500km of testing in Morocco without any issues, proving just how tough and capable our T1+ Ranger is, and it’s fantastic to be taking the fight to our rivals this year.”

The next race is the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Jwaneng, Botswana, from 23-25 June 2023.


Source Neil Woolridge Motorsport Ford Castrol Rally-Raid Team

Sugarbelt 400 2023: New winners in special vehicle category with Trace Price Moor / Gareth Aiston victorious after thrilling Sugarbelt 400

The record books of the South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) as well as the iconic Sugarbelt 400 with its history that spans over three decades, will be updated after the most recent event, as one of the toughest to date, not only in the 2023 season, but also in recent years.

The second round of the SARRC saw competitors take on a shortened 20km Pirelli Qualifying Race on Friday, 12 March followed by two 160km loops on Saturday, 13 March from the Beaumont Farmer’s Club at Eston in KwaZulu-Natal and after the dust had settled, new category and class winners appeared.

Trace Price Moor, who missed the season opener, and navigator, Gareth Aiston (BAT Venom) started the main race on Saturday in second place behind the pace setters and Special Vehicle Championship leaders, Tim Howes/Gary Campbell (Timdrew Property Developers BAT Spec 4). Tight corners, challenging navigation and testing routes typical of the event, as well as a 40 minute penalty did not stand in the way of the team taking their first category and Class A victory with a total time of 06:09:38.

The defending champions, Howes/Campbell, suffered various mechanical issues including racing without a clutch and with a broken rear shock absorber, but still finished in style as the category and Class A runners-up, 2 minutes and 11 seconds behind the winners.

Both podiums were rounded off by Eugene Bierman/Pieter Visser (BAT Spec 2) who finished in a time of 06:20:34. After taking a break from racing, veterans John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Challenger) were back in action and finished just off the podiums, but with their first points on the scoreboard. Their time (06:37:58) also included a 40 minute penalty and they were sixth in the Special Vehicle Category.

New winners also emerged in Class G after a tumultuous 350 kilometres with Ewald van Rensburg/Johan Scheepers (Can-Am Maverick) the victors after 06:33:42. They also posted the fastest time after the short Pirelli Qualifying race and stuck to their guns to finish a mere 80 seconds ahead of Geoff Minnitt/Gerhard Snyman (Hydro Power Equipment Can-Am Maverick). Minnitt/Snyman could not finish the qualifier and had to start the main race towards the back of the field, but the team showed why they were Dakar Rally 2023 finishers and earned their silverware as they rounded off the Special Vehicle Category top five.

If youngster Ian Mostert hoped to be able to tell his friends a few stories after the Sugarbelt 400, he could not have wished for a better event. Taking on his first ever Sugarbelt event, and doing so behind the wheel of the Moto-Netix Racing Can-Am Maverick with dad Werner reading the notes, it all started with the team not being able to post a qualifying time due to the race being shortened after a fire on the route.

Starting in the very last position, the team battled the dust and overtaking competitors between the sugarcane and to top it all, Werner suffered severe motion sickness. But the father and son duo made it stick and earned points with their third place in Class G that will see them keeping their lead in the Class G standings on their mission to defend their title.

Their team-mates, Glen Theron/Craig Galvin in a similar Can-Am finished fourth in the class and were eighth overall (07:34:57) with Francois and Neil de Wit the very last finishers. They were fifth in Class G. The team broke down and took a 10 hour penalty to be able to continue – and they made it to the finish.
In their first event of the season, Gqeberha based Grant Watkins/Mark Irvine brought their Zarco home winning Class P and finishing ninth in the Special Vehicle Category.

There was disappointment for Class A competitors, Lood du Preez/Nick van Zyl (Farmers Meat Stryker) and the Makenete brothers, Keith and Andrew (BAT Makmobile) who could not finish while Theo Erasmus/Edward Odendaal (Can-Am Maverick) had an enjoyable race until they broke a CV joint, wheel bearings and suffered a broken hub.

Competitors will now prepare for the only marathon event on the calendar, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race that will see them return to Jwaneng in Botswana for the race on 23, 24 and 25 June.


Source SARRC
Images: Plan C Productions

Sugarbelt 400 2023: Tight battles at rough, tough, tricky and dusty Sugarbelt ad Lategan and Cummings claim their second victory of the season

The Sugarbelt 400, the second round of the 2023 South African Rally-Raid Championship that took place on 12 and 13 May in the Eston/Mid Illovo area in KwaZulu-Natal, will probably be remembered as one of the toughest events in recent years. This iconic race had not been on the calendar for six years, and after its return in 2021 the 2022 event cancelled due to the flooding, making it a relatively new event for many current competitors.

One thing is sure, it was not an easy 350 kilometres between the sugarcane fields and plantations with competitors describing the route as tough, tricky and challenging with no room for error, while dust was also a huge factor. These conditions added to the test, as did the consequences of a shortened Pirelli Qualifying Race the previous day due to a fire on the route.

In the end it was Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings (Toyota Gazoo Racing DKR Hilux T1+) who claimed their second overall victory of the season and their first Sugarbelt 400 win. The team posted the fourth fastest time after the shortened qualifying and selected to start the race from third place on Saturday. Their time of just over five hours included time lost when they landed up in a ditch while they also suffered two punctures, and experienced a few mechanical issues. It was the team’s second attempt at the Sugarbelt 400, and they walked away as the winners of the Production Vehicle Category and FIA T1+.

They ousted their team-mates and the winners of the event in 2021, Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy, by three minutes and 16 seconds after more than five brutal hours in the saddle. De Villiers, who also won this event in 2001, and Murphy lost time wrong-slotting while they also suffered a puncture.

It was, however, the local Pietermaritzburg team of Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (NWM Ford Castrol T1+ Ranger) who led the way at the halfway mark while they were also fastest after the 20km qualifying race. After a clean first loop, a puncture 40 kilometres before the finish as well as brake problems forced them to settle for third place in FIA T1+ as well as in the Production Vehicle Category with a mere 19 seconds separating them from De Villiers/Murphy.

The third Toyota Gazoo Racing DKR Hilux T1+ team, national rally champions, Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle, survived their Sugarbelt 400 baptism by fire as they also had to open the road on Saturday morning, which was not an easy task. The team finished fourth overall and in FIA T1+ (05:25:22), just under 3 minutes behind the Ford Ranger T1+. There was not much between Botterill/Vacy-Lyle and fifth-placed Johan and Werner Horn (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid) in a similar DKR T1+ as only 44 seconds separated the two teams.

Two more FIA T1+ teams worked themselves into the top 10 in the Production Vehicle Category, with Chris Visser/Albertus Venter (Red-Lined REVO T1+) having had their worked cut out after starting in the middle of the field. They overcame some mechanical issues and lost time with a puncture to finish seventh overall and in FIA T1+ (05:42:24), just under two minutes ahead of Lance Trethewey/Adriaan Roets (King Price Xtreme CR6) who were the first of the three two-wheel drive vehicles to finish the race despite their fair share of technical issues including brake problems.

Lance Woolridge/Kenny Gilbert (NWM Ford Castrol T1+ Ranger) were ninth in FIA T1+ and 12th overall (06:04:03) – having stopped to pull the defending T1 champions, Eben Basson/Leander Pienaar (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid) out of a ditch – while Simon Murray/Achim Bergmann brought their 2x4 WCT HT2 Toyota home in 14th place overall after not being able to post a qualifying time as they rolled their vehicle. They were ninth in FIA T1+.

It was also almost over for Brian Baragwanath/Leonard Cremer (Century Racing CR6) who qualified fifth fastest, but the team also landed in a ditch early in the race, but eventually managed to get themselves out and rounded off the FIA T1+ top 10 while they finished 18th overall.

There were new FIA T1 winners with all three podium teams finishing in the overall top 10. Nic Pienaar/Carl Swanepoel (Red-Lined Motorsport REVO) claimed their first FIA T1 victory after a relatively clean run. They were sixth overall, 13 minutes and 25 seconds behind the Horn brothers and 2 minutes 53 seconds ahead of their team-mates, Visser/Venter. Basson/ Pienaar finished second in the class (05:47:38), only 82 seconds ahead of teenager Jayden Els (King Price Xtreme SVR) who had a roller-coaster first Sugarbelt outing.

Els’s navigator, Elvéne Vonk, became ill during the first of the two 160km loops and was replaced at the halfway mark by Henry Köhne, regular navigator for Gary Bertholdt whose FIA T1+ Toyota Hilux was hampered by electrical issues forcing the team into early retirement. Els and Köhne finished 10th overall with the silverware for third place in FIA T1 a just reward.

The third #TeamHilux Rally-Raid team, Fouché and Bertus Blignaut, completed their first Sugarbelt 400 experience just outside the top 10 in 11th place overall, 67 seconds behind Els/Köhne. Three more FIA T1 teams received the chequered flag at the Beaumont Eston Farmer’s Club with German regular, Jürgen Schröder/Stuart Gregory (Nissan Navara) fifth in class after being helped onto their wheels by Johan and Sean van Staden (Renault Duster) who could not finish the race.

They were followed by two Red-Lined Motorsport teams with the 18 year-old lady driver from Dubai, Aliyyah Koloc completing her first outing on South African soil successfully with navigator Riaan Greyling (Red-Lined VK50) albeit after also rolling their vehicle. They were sixth in class with Johan de Bruyn/Gerhard Schutte (Red-Lined REVO) finishing seventh.

Schalk Burger/Henk Janse van Vuuren rounded off a 100% finish rate for Team King Price Xtreme when they brought their VW Amarok home as the winners of Class T.

The list of Sugarbelt 400 casualties also included Hendrik and Heinrich du Plessis (Ford Ranger) who could not finish in Class T; Ernest Roberts/Jaco van Aardt (CR6) who were hampered by flat tyres and landed in the sugarcane after wrong slotting and FIA T1 entrants Daniel Schröder/Ryan Bland (Nissan Navara) and the newcomers Gerhard and Rudi Heinlein (Red-Lined VK56).

With two extremely tough events on the 2023 SA Rally-Raid Championship now ticked off, it is time for competitors to focus on the Toyota Gazoo Racing Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, the third round of the series that will see them returning to Jwaneng in Botswana for this three-day event that will take place from 23 to 25 June.


Source SARRC
Images: Plan C Productions

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