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Sugarbelt 400 2023: TGRSA all set for round 2 of 2023 SARRC in Kwazulu-Natal

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa (TGRSA) is excited to announce its participation in the 2023 Sugarbelt 400, taking place in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The event marks the second round of the South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC), following the successful Nkomazi 400 where TGRSA showcased outstanding performance.

The Sugarbelt 400, set in the challenging terrain around the town of Eston, offers a unique race course that winds through sugarcane fields and plantations. Last year's race was cancelled due to devastating floods in the province, but it is back this year, promising to be more challenging and exciting than ever.

"We are looking forward to the weekend and excited to be back in KwaZulu-Natal, after last year's race was cancelled," says Glyn Hall, TGRSA Team Principal. "Our crews have been working tirelessly on their cars, and we are eager to put our new tweaks and components to the test."

All three of TGRSA's crews, namely Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings; Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy; and Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle, will be in action. They will be driving the same robust Toyota Hilux race cars as before, but with some innovative enhancements. The cars have been carefully tweaked in terms of engine mapping, and the team will also be testing some new components in their ongoing quest for supremacy in the Dakar Rally.

The Sugarbelt 400 begins with a 52km Qualifying Race at 12:30 on Friday, 12 May, which will determine the starting positions for the main event. The main race follows on Saturday, 13 May, kicking off at 8am with two distinct race loops, interspersed by a compulsory 30-minute service stop at the Beaumont Eston Farmer's Club, the Designated Service Park (DSP) for the event.

Currently leading the Production Championship are TGRSA's own Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings, with teammates Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy in third place. This round provides another opportunity for the team to consolidate their standings and push the boundaries of performance.

Fans are encouraged to follow the race live via the RallySafe app, available for free download, if they are unable to attend the race. The app provides real-time updates, ensuring fans don't miss out on any thrilling moments of the race.

"We are driven by the spirit of competition and the love of the sport," adds Hall. "The Sugarbelt 400 is another exciting chapter in our journey, and we're committed to giving it our all."


Source TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa

Sugarbelt 400 2023: Red-Lined chasing sweet sucess at Eston

Aliyyah joins Chris & Johan in three-car Sugarbelt attack

Red-Lined Motorsport heads to Eston in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands with an exciting three car team for the second round of the 2023 SA Rally-Raid Championship, the Sugarbelt 400 held on the 12th and 13th May.

Team regulars Chris Visser and Albertus Venter’s Dragon Energy powered FIA REVO T1+ and Johan de Bruyn and Gerhard Schutte’s OdorCure FIA REVO T1, will be joined by teen lady racing sensation Aliyyah Koloc on her T1 rally raid debut in a Red-Lined VK50 alongside experienced notes man Riaan Greyling in their Buggyra Racing VK50.

Unfortunately due to business commitments the ever dependable Penta Motor Group boys, Philip Botha and Roelof Janse van Vuren will not be competing in this round of the championship but will make a welcome return to the Botswana Desert 1000 in June.

“It’s a big weekend for all concerned,” Red-Lined Motorsport CEO Terence Marsh explains. “T1 class championship leader de Bruyn and Schutte arrive at Eston on the threshold of a potential third T1 win in as many meetings, while Visser and Venter will once again be out to take on the T1+ big guns for podium positions. Koloc meanwhile steps up to race a T1 car for the first time alongside Greyling.

“There’s been a bit of a break between the first race at Malelane and now, which as a team gave us the ability to participate in the Morocco Desert Challenge as well as prepare for the Sugarbelt event. Johan and Gerhard won the opening event of the last race in 2022 and then opened their 2023 season with another win, so there is a potential chance of a hat trick, which is exciting.

Chris and Albertus will be having their second outing in our all-new Red-Lined REVO+ which is still in its development phase. They are looking to improve on their top 5 overall result first time out.

“The biggest excitement however in the Red-Lined camp this weekend is the arrival of teenage lady racing sensation Aliyyah Koloc. Aliyyah has already proven herself with a splendid ninth in the highly competitive T3 buggy class on debut against the best in the world at the 2023 Dakar Rally. Aliyyah then went on to finish a career best third in T3 in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge as she doubles her motorsport schedule with a race winning GT4 program on track.

“Aliyyah has quietly prepared for her step up to T1 and really impressed us during testing. Now teamed with the vastly experienced Riaan Greyling, Aliyyah can’t wait for what will be a rather different challenge in the foothills of the Berg in a heavier and more powerful V8 T1 race car, rather than the desert she is used to in her lightweight T3 machine. We are really looking forward to this development journey with Aliyyah as she gears herself up for the top tier T1+ class into the future.”

Red-Lined Motorsport will be based at the traditional Eston Country Club race headquarters for the classic South African Rally Raid adventure that is the 12 and 13 May Sugarbelt 400.


Source Red-Lined Motorsport via Motorsport Media

Sugarbelt 400 2023: NWM Ford Castrol Team Aims for Sweet Taste of Success at Sugarbelt 400

  • Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (#277) set their sights on another strong performance after finishing second on the opening round of the 2023 season in EcoBoost V6-powered T1+ NWM Ford Ranger
  • Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (#234) looking for first points of the season, having been second quickest during qualifying for Nkomazi 400 but dropping out with a damaged hydraulic clutch pipe
  • Privateer team of Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen (#241) impressed on first outing in T1+ NWM Ford Ranger, aiming for another good result

The 2023 South African Rally Raid Championship (SARRC) was expected to start with a bang, and the opening round at the Nkomazi 400 certainly didn’t disappoint. The fiercely competitive series now heads to the Sugarbelt 400 in Eston, Kwazulu-Natal, for Round 2 on 12 and 13 May 2023 where the battles will intensify.

For the Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Ford Castrol Team, the second round will be a crucial opportunity to make the most of the significant upgrades it has introduced on its class FIA T1+ EcoBoost V6-powered Ford Ranger, which is built at NWM’s facility just north of the race venue, in Pietermaritzburg.

Leading up to the Sugarbelt 400, NWM embarked on week-long in-depth testing and development program on the T1+ Ranger in Morocco with its global rally-raid partner, M-Sport. “Our intensified testing program in conjunction with M-Sport started straight after the Desert Race last year, and has allowed us to accelerate the development of our T1+ Ranger well beyond what we could achieve on our own in South Africa,” says NWM team principal Neil Woolridge.

“At this stage we don’t have a large customer base of T1+ vehicles competing around the world like some of our rivals do, so all of the information gleaned from these tests is invaluable in ramping up our development of the vehicle to ensure we extract the best possible performance and durability,” Woolridge says. “It was clear at this year’s opening SARRC race that we have the package to challenge for top results, and we are looking forward to making the most of all the hard work put into our T1+ Ranger at Eston, and for the rest of the season.”

Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (#277) are the top-placed NWM Ford Castrol crew after finishing second at the Nkomazi 400. The dynamic young team scored their first overall championship win at the final round of 2022, and they are eager to add more silverware to the trophy collection.

Team-mates Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (#234) had their first outing together at the 2023 season-opener in the second NWM T1+ Ranger. They posted the second-fastest time during the qualifying sprint – despite it being motorcycle racer Gilbert’s first time in the navigator’s seat. Unfortunately, a damaged hydraulic clutch pipe halted their progress on the first race loop and forced them to retire, so their objective for the Sugarbelt 400 will be to secure maximum points to kickstart their 2023 championship challenge.

On the privateer front, the NWM-supported crew of Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen (#241) surprised many of the top competitors by finishing ninth overall in the T1+ category, and seventh amongst the four-wheel drive cars in their first national race with the T1+ NWM Ford Ranger. Having raced the Class T NWM Ranger V8 previously, the team is on a fast learning curve getting to grips with the exceptional performance of their new T1+ Ranger, and learning just how hard they can push it in the roughest terrain – and they are sure to be a regular feature in the top 10 results.

The Sugarbelt 400 is well known for its spectacular scenery, set in the mountains and lush green sugarcane plantations surrounding Eston. The event is based at the Beaumont Eston Farmer’s Club which serves as the race headquarters, designated service park and start-finish.

The action commences on Friday 12 May at 12:30 with the short 52km Pirelli Qualifying Race, which determines the starting order for the main race on Saturday. Adding some strategic thinking to the mix, the top 10 teams will draw their starting positions from slowest to fastest, which always adds a dash of intrigue.

On Saturday, the crews will complete two loops of 160km each, starting at 08:00 and separated by a compulsory 30-minute service stop. Spectators have access to numerous viewing points located along the route to see the cars in action, along with free entry to the service park.

Fans can also 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.

Source NWM Ford Castrol Team

Morocco Desert Challenge 2023: Anja van Loon finishes a strong rally with a handsome third time.

Prior to the rally, Anja van Loon went mainly to test and get used to the Iveco Powerstar. The speed was there right away, and Van Loon showed that she can compete at the top of the truck rankings. Also on the last day, Van Loon was very fast and closed the rally with a third time. In the overall standings, she moves up to 7th position.

"I am so happy!" says Anja. "We drove really well, and it went so much better than I expected. I also learned a lot here, both from driving in the dunes and from the truck itself. The rally was very tough, especially because of the heat. It's a good truck debut for me. On to the next one!"

Erik van Loon is also proud. "Anja drove so well! This is really clever. The rally is difficult, as is the navigation. But she made few mistakes and was very fast. Really a top debut. I'm very curious about the next rally to see what she can do there, this start is very good."


Source Van Loon Racing

Sugarbelt 400 2023: Pressure on previous victors, and potential winners while local heroes aim for glory at Sugarbelt 400  

The Sugarbelt 400, the second round of the 2023 SA Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) that takes place on 12 and 13 May in the Eston / Mid-Illovo areas in KwaZulu-Natal, promises traditional Rally-Raid racing between the sugarcane fields and plantations, and while previous winners would like to add another victory to their list of Sugarbelt 400 wins, they will be up against a gaggle of teams who have the potential to dethrone them.

Add that to the fact that the first points towards the SARRC are on the scoreboard, and teams returning from the drawing board after a disappointing opening round, the stage is set for an exciting Sugarbelt 400 that will be run for the umpteenth time from the Beaumont Eston Farmer’s Club.

The event has a rich history spanning three decades and the outcome of the 2023 Sugarbelt 400 will be added to its serious set of record books. Keep in mind, this event was cancelled in 2022 with a gap of six years prior to its return to the national championship in 2021, making the Eston/Mid-Illovo race a fairly new event for many competitors.

Looking at the Production Vehicle Category, one name has already made it into the event’s record books – Giniel de Villiers. De Villiers claimed the victory in 2021 together with his navigator, Dennis Murphy (Toyota Gazoo Racing SA) and this was a special occasion as he previously won the Sugarbelt 400 20 years earlier in 2001.

De Villiers/Murphy finished third at the season opener earlier this year, and the battle between the three Toyota Gazoo Racing SA DKR Hilux T1+ teams will continue with the championship leaders, Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings aiming for a second consecutive victory while Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle kicked the season off in the top five.

The local Pietermaritzburg outfit, the two NWM Ford Castrol Ranger T1+ teams in the hands of Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer and Lance Woolridge/Kenny Gilbert, will hope to better their 2021 results in front of their home crowd. Woolridge/Dreyer are currently second in the standings while Lance/Gilbert will be chasing their first points as they were side-lined by mechanical issues at the Nkomazi 400.

And while two more Toyota Hilux T1+ teams, Johan and Werner Horn (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid DKR Hilux T1+) who withdrew from the Nkomazi 400 and Gary Bertholdt/Henry Köhne, who fought their way into the results from the back of the field, as well as the two-wheel drive turbo-charged WCT HT2 Toyota of Simon Murray/Achim Bergmann will also be in the FIA T1+ line-up, another Ford Ranger T1+ in the hands of Wors Prinsloo/André Vermeulen, will bolster the Ford camp.

Chris Visser/Albertus Venter put the new Red-Lined REVO T1+ on the map from the start of the 2023 season scoring a top five result in Mpumalanga and the team can cause havoc when implementing Visser’s extensive Sugarbelt 400 experience.

Three more teams have entered in FIA T1+ with 2x4 Century Racing vehicles including another local KZN champion, Lance Trethewey who won the Special Vehicle Category of this event in 2021. Trethewey and Adriaan Roets (King Price Xtreme CR6) are familiar with the type of terrain and will go for gold as will Brian Baragwanath/Leonard Cremer (Century Racing CR6) who will be looking for their first points of the season with Ernest Roberts/Jaco van Aardt (CR6) also returning to the action.

The Century Racing team are highly ecstatic after winning the recent Morocco Desert Challenge overall with the international pairing of Mathieu Serradori/Loic Minaudier claiming victory after all eight the stages under gruelling racing conditions.

In FIA T1, the championship leaders will have to fight to keep their positions as the rest of the teams will hound them down. Red-Lined Motorsport, who also returned from the Morocco Desert Challenge with good results, are leading FIA T1 with Johan de Bruyn/Gerhard Schutte and Nic Pienaar/Carl Swanepoel respectively first and second with their Red-Lined REVO’s. They will be backed by another Red-Lined Motorsport team, the Dubai-born female driver, Aliyyah Koloc together with experienced South African navigator, Riaan Greyling in the VK50 as well as the Heinlein father and son duo of Rudi and Gerhard who will take on their first national SARRC in the VK56.

The defending champions, Eben Basson/Leander Pienaar and their #TeamHilux Rally-Raid team-mates, Fouché and Bertus Blignaut, will be part of the chasing pack as will the two visiting Germans in the WCT Engineering prepared Nissan Navaras, pairing up with their South African navigators, Daniel Schröder and Ryan Bland and Jürgen Schröder and Stuart Gregory.

Former Class T competitors, Johan and Sean van Staden (Renault Duster) and Jayden Els/Elvéne Vonk (King Price Xtreme SVR) will also be in action, with the latter aiming for their first points of the season. It will be young Els’s maiden Sugarbelt race.
In Class T, the current leaders, the father and son team of, Hendrik and Heinrich Du Plessis (Ford Ranger) will be back for more of the action as will brothers Nico and Juandré Nienaber (Renault Duster) while Schalk Burger/Henk Janse van Vuuren will be in action in a King Price Xtreme VW Amarok.

Five teams have entered in Class A of the Special Vehicle Category. The defending champions and winners of the season opener, local KZN competitors, Tim Howes/Gary Campbell (Tim Drew Property Developments BAT Spec 4) will not only be looking for another win, but also to better their previous Sugarbelt 400 result. Another set of good points and less mechanical issues will be perfect for Lood du Preez, with navigator still to be announced, in the Farmer’s Meat Stryker while Eugene Bierman/Pieter Visser (BAT Spec 2) would hope for a first finish this year.

It will be a first outing this season for Special Vehicle Category regulars, Trace Price Moor/Shaun Braithwaite (BAT Venom) as well as the Makenete brothers, Keith and Andrew (BAT Makmobile) who have moved up from Class P. Veteran competitors Grant Watkins and Mark Irvine (Zarco) have entered in Class P.

The Class G Championship has undergone somewhat of a change since the Nkomazi 400 with Geoff Minnitt/Gerhard Snyman (Hydro Power Equipment Can-Am Maverick) again competing in this class after taking on the season opener in FIA T1 while Theo Erasmus/Edward Odendaal (Can-Am Maverick) will be back in action after sitting out the 2022 season. It will be the first Sugarbelt 400 for teenager Ian Mostert behind the wheel of the Moto-Netix Can-Am Maverick who will count on the knowledge of his experienced dad, Werner, in the hot seat with the defending Class G champions aiming for a second victory this season.

While their team-mates, Glen Theron and Craig Galvin can build on their second place at the Nkomazi 400, Ewald van Rensburg/Johan Scheepers will also have their eyes on another podium result with brothers Francois and Neil de Wit, all in similar Can-Am Maverick vehicles, aiming for their first set of good points.

The Sugarbelt 400 will also be the second and third rounds of the KZN Regional Championship.

The action will start on Friday at 12:30 when teams will take on the 52km Pirelli Qualifying Race that will determine the starting order for the race on Saturday. The leading 10 teams will draw their starting positions for the first of two 160km loops with the start at 08:00 at the Beaumont Eston Farmer’s Club.

Teams will stop for a compulsory 30 minute service break at the Designated Service Point (DSP) after the first two 80km laps before taking on the second and final racing section. The Race Headquarters, Start/Finish and DSP will be situated at the Beaumont Eston Farmer’s Club where food and refreshments will be on sale.

All the action can be viewed from various vantage points along the route. The Sugarbelt 400 can also be followed on the RallySafe App, available as a free download from the Google PlayStore and the iStore while updated information will be available on Facebook: saccsauto; Instagram: saccs_auto and Twitter: @SACCS.Auto.

Source SARRC
Images: Plan C Productions

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.