- SA’s Eben Basson and Leander Pienaar complete tough Dakar debut
- National Class T1 champions crowned Lightweight Prototype rookie winners in Dammam
- The G Rally Team crew ended the two-week long race in 7th position on the overall rankings
The 2023 Dakar Rally was described by many experienced competitors as one of, if not the toughest in the recent history of the notorious rally. So perhaps not the ideal time to take on the world’s toughest race, but that’s exactly what South Africa’s Eben Basson and Leander Pienaar did when they joined the starting line-up in the G Rally Team OT3 in the lightweight prototype category of the Dakar Rally when the event kicked off on New Year’s Day on the shores of the Red Sea in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The 2023 route would see crews traverse the vast empty spaces of the Saudi Kingdom, including a late visit to the Empty Quarter towards the end of the event. After 14 stages that covered nearly 8000 kilometres, of which 5000 were against the stopwatch, the #TeamHilux Rally-Raid Crew did themselves, their team, and their country proud by arriving at the finish line in Dammam with their names occupying the 7th position on the overall classification in class T3. “We came here with one clear objective, and that was to finish the race,” said an emotional Basson at the finish line. “But before we started, Leander and I decided that we weren’t here to mess around. We set ourselves a target of a top 10 finish.” The pairing had no choice but to quickly get to grips with their G Rally Team OT3 car, a car they’ve never driven before the start of the event. They took to it like a duck to water and it didn’t take them long to bust into the top 10. “Unfortunately, like many of the other teams, we had a few unfortunate setbacks that robbed us of valuable time and a few positions on the overall leaderboard. But that’s racing and it is the same for everyone.”
Basson and Pienaar got into their stride midway through the event and although they haven’t really been in big dunes before, they regularly found themselves setting times in the upper echelon of the class amongst some fierce competition. This included their teammates Guillaume de Mevius and Francois Cazalet who were well on course to claim victory for the team until a small electrical problem dropped them down to third place late in the rally.
With only a few stages to go, Basson and Pienaar’s names settled into a comfortable 7th in the overall standings. They were just a little too far behind to fight for 6th while also having a relatively comfortable margin over the chasing pack. “At this point, we knew that we did all that we could do. For the last few stages it became a matter of survival as our focus was to simply defend our overall position,” added Basson. Besides fighting against some of the biggest names in the sport of Rally Raid racing, the pairing also had to battle the elements and a few other challenges that the Arabian desert could throw a them. “We didn’t expect rain and cold weather in the desert, but that’s exactly what we got. We got soaking wet on several occasions and it was freezing for many days. Doing 500 kilometres in the freezing cold without a windscreen in the car was not the most enjoyable part, but it all forms part of the challenge,” said an elated Pienaar at the finish line.
In the end, they were rewarded with a fine 7th position. All the competitors in front of them have done the Dakar before, so the crew also walked away with the coveted rookie prize on the 2023 Dakar. “It is still sinking in. It will probably take me another two weeks to realize what we experienced over the past two weeks,” said Pienaar. “I’m very satisfied that we had the pace to run with the front runners on our first Dakar,” added Basson.
The #TeamHilux Rally-Raid and G Rally Team would like to thank it’s supporters and associated sponsors who made their 2023 Dakar Rally participation possible.
Basson and Pienaar, together with the other 2 #TeamHilux Rally-Raid crews, including their teammates from Malalane Toyota, Johan and Werner Horn, as well as the brothers from Witbank, Fouche and Bertus Blignaut, will compete in the South African Rally-Raid Championship across South Africa. The flag will drop for the first race in March, where the team will be racing in their Toyota Hilux bakkies. “We would like to invite everyone to join us at the SARRC rallies, the atmosphere is amazing and the racing even better.” Basson concluded.
Follow the exhilarating action of the #TeamHIlux Rally-Raid team on Facebook and Instagram @TeamHiluxRallyRaid.
Source Team Hilux Rally-Raid
- Amateur class 1-2, all four Red-Lined cars finish Dakar ‘23
South African rally raid race car manufacturer Red-Lined Motorsport enjoyed an exceptional outing at the 2023 Dakar Rally. Not only did all four of its gentlemen crews cross the finish line of the 8,549 km 15-day event which was said to be among the most gruelling ever, but its race cars went on to deliver a stunning 1-2 result in the T1.1 class.
After their first week challenges outside of racing conditions, German SA Rally Raid regular Daniel Schröder and South African notes man Ryan Bland’s PS Laser Red-Lined VK50 enjoyed another challenging week at the Dakar to eventually finish 28th overall and 1st in class. This is the fourth Dakar for their current VK50 which has now done more than 50,000km of racing which includes a few other international and South African Championship events.
Dubai based Brit Thomas Bell and SA navigator Gerhard Schutte’s TBR Red-Lined VK56 moved up to second in the T1.1 class through the second week as they went on to finish an impressive 33rd overall. Sand specialist Bell thrived in the dunes during the second week and went on to finish his 50th consecutive stage and 4th Dakar in the process.
36th overall and fourth in class, Dutch rookie crew Dave Klaassen and Tessa Rooth also went on to finish as runners up in the Dakar Rookie Challenge in their DaklaPack VK56 which added to what was already an impressive debut for the pairing. They enjoyed a solid and steady run over the two weeks, with their sole aim of finishing this gruelling event, as they consistently made their way up the finishing order.
Fellow Dutch rookie crew, Ronald van Loon and Erik Lemmen’s Oase Red-Lined VK50 similarly soldiered through the Dakar fortnight, often through the toughest conditions after a really challenging stage during the first week where they received some rather big penalties. They eventually went on to finish 40th overall after a good clean second week.
‘This was definitely one of the toughest Dakar events that I can recall’ Red-Lined Motorsport CEO Terence Marsh reflected. “Already known as the toughest motorsport event on the planet, everything was taken to another level this year with forever changing weather and terrain conditions. Never mind, the event was extended to 14 stages over the 12 days of previous editions. “We have never consumed as many parts and worked as hard as we did compared to prior years with the continuous battering the race cars had to take each day.”
While Red-Lined delivered a brilliant 1-2 class result at Dakar 2023, the team also extended its incredible overall Dakar stage finishing record to 99% from the 224 stages that they have started since their 2015 debut. Red-Lined cars have finished an impressive 83% for the 18 gruelling Dakar Rallies that they have started over the years.
Conditions were beyond tough throughout Dakar 2023 as crews suffered an extraordinary number of punctures and technical challenges in the first week. The going got even tougher when more rain fell in two days of the Dakar Rally than the region usually benefits over a full year. And it kept on coming, sporadically through the two Dakar weeks.
Much of the pack raced well into the dark every evening through Week 1, before facing among the most daunting dune driving challenges on planet earth through a tough and demanding second week in the Empty Quarter where the dunes are regarded as some of the most complicated dunes in the world. Freezing wet conditions meanwhile challenged service crews, which regularly faced up to grafting through the night to repair damaged cars.
The perfect traumatic conditions, in other words, for Red-Lined Motorsport to prove its worth on the worlds stage as the ultimate Dakar privateer businessman rally raid adventure platform.
*Red-Lined Motorsport Adventure salutes our Dakar 2023 partners BF Goodrich, Motul, Dragon Energy and Expand a Sign.
Source Red-Lined Motorsport via Motorsport Media
- Dakar Rally 2023 concludes all 15 days of competition
The Dakar Rally 2023 concluded on January 15th with the final SS (competition segment) of 138 km between Hofuf and Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The 15-day event came to a close with the finish line at the King Abdullah Cultural Center (ITHRA) on the outskirts of Dammam City.
The HINO TEAM SUGAWARA crew of Teruhito Sugawara, Hirokazu Somemiya, and Yuji Mochizuki, driving a HINO 600 Series truck equipped with a hybrid system, completed this SS at 21st overall in the Trucks category, and their accumulated ranking of 10th overall in this category was confirmed.
The SS for this day started near the border with Qatar, 167 km from the bivouac in Al Hofuf by liaison (travel section). The route followed the coast along the Persian Gulf northward toward Dammam. Most of the road surface was sandy, and starting with a twisty section in the beginning, off-road and navigation complicated sections appeared. The HINO 600 stopped midway due to a fuel leak from a fuel line. Emergency repairs took about 20 minutes, and the water temperature subsequently rose, resulting in a loss of about 30 minutes as cooling water had to be replenished. Other than that, the race went smoothly, with the hybrid system functioning as it arrived at the goal.
The HINO Team then traveled on a 100 km liaison to the city of Dammam, arriving at the finish line ceremony site at around 5:00 pm. The Team climbed onto the podium with a large “koinobori” (carp streamer) and responded to the cheers of the spectators by waving their hands, bringing the 15 days of competition in this year's event to an end.
The event was held in Saudi Arabia for the fourth year in a row, and the weather was unsettled throughout the event, resulting in cancellations and shortening of the course due to flooding. In recent years, the course setting has become more difficult, probably due to the consideration of light buggy vehicles, which account for the majority of the races. Under these circumstances, HINO TEAM SUGAWARA's HINO 600 series has improved its running pace thanks to the aging of the suspension. Although the Team often scored a single finish in the SS, troubles such as the engine water temperature rise and the hybrid system frequently occurred from the middle stage. On the 12th, the truck suffered a crash in the sand dunes, but each time, the experienced crew and mechanics who continued to work all night played an active role. Thanks to the Team's efforts and overall strength, the Team reached the finish line in 10th place overall in the truck division.
Teruhito Sugawara: In the last SS of the day, we also had to stop due to a fuel leak. From the beginning, we had a series of problems, including minor ones, and after the water temperature began to rise, I worried every morning about whether the engine would start properly. The course was amazing, and I think this has been the most difficult year for us so far.
Hirokazu Somemiya: We had various troubles, but navigation went well. Today, there were many GPS points in the off-road in the second half of the day, and we could not cover them. Yuji Mochizuki, the onboard mechanic, played an active role in this competition.
Yuji Mochizuki: I am glad that I was able to participate in this rally considering the company's scandal. I wanted to achieve good results, but so many things happened.
Source Hino Team Sugawara
Boss Machinery Team De Rooy Iveco started the Dakar rally with high ambitions. The team went into battle with two Iveco Powerstar rally trucks. Unfortunately, Vick Versteijnen, Teun van Dal and André van der Sande with start number 504, had to give up quite early in the rally due to technical issues.
Today, this disappointment is offset by the euphoria of the overall victory by the team with start number 502. It is Janus van Kasteren jr. and Marcel Snijders who claim victory in a Dakar rally for the first time. It is already his third title for mechanic Darek Rodewald. In 2012 and 2016 he won the rally alongside Gerard de Rooy.
With a big lead in the general classification, Janus van Kasteren jr. did not have to go to the limit on the last stage. The 138-kilometer special stage went over the beach alongside the Persian Gulf north to Dammam. Janus jr., Marcel and Darek managed in their Iveco Powerstar to finish without any problems.
With a delta of only 6 minutes and 1 second, they clocked a seventh fastest time today. Tatra pilot Paskevicius from Lithuania took the stage victory, just ahead of Team De Rooy pilot Mitchel van den Brink. The Czech Valtr took third place. The leading position of Boss Machinery Team De Rooy Iveco in the general classification was not a moment at risk.
Janus jr. told his story shortly after the finish: “It was still a slippery stage but we stayed calm and had a super party with the mechanics at the finish. Everything is new to me of course. Looking back, it was a wonderful rally. In the beginning, of course, I had some problems, but in the second week I was able to drive very fast. Indescribable. It still needs to sink in a bit. Darek is pretty relaxed about it all. He already had two victories, but Marcel and I didn’t.” The experienced Darek Rodewald also briefly looks back on his 12th Dakar: "It was a tough rally, but that's what we need to win."
Apart from the retirement of Vick Versteijnen, the first week of the Dakar rally was characterized by great duels with Mitchel Van den Brink. As usual, Corné van Drunen worked hard with his mechanics to solve the technical problems: “In the beginning it was difficult. But it just goes to show that you shouldn't give up and always keep going.
Other teams also had a hard time. It was a true battlefield. After Janus' finish today everybody relaxed. We have done it again. For me the third victory with Team De Rooy. Now there is some time to rest, but next week I will start thinking about how we can do better next year. All in all, it was a super rally that I will not quickly forget. After the great work of Corné and his mechanics, the difference could be made in the second week.
When leader Ales Loprais retired from the rally after being involved in a tragic, fatal accident, the Boss Machinery Team De Rooy Iveco crew took the lead in the general classification. In the tough specials through the Empty Quarter, however, the team with start number 502 showed that the team and the Iveco Powerstar were very fast.
Martin Macik and fellow Team De Rooy pilot Martin van den Brink battled for the podium places. In the twelfth stage, Van Kasteren jr., Snijders and Rodewald were able to create a definitive gap. That day they laid the foundation for the overall victory. The Czech Macik finished in second place and the experienced Martin from Harskamp took his first podium ever with third place.
Team owner Gerard De Rooy looks back with satisfaction. “Our goal was to win this Dakar and we succeeded. Super well done by Janus, Marcel and Darek. Hats off. It was a great pity that Martin (Van den Brink - ed.) was unable to keep second place, but it was wonderful to see him on the podium. He was very unlucky the last few days and really deserves to be there. A real reward for the whole team. Mitchel (Van den Brink - ed.) has also presented himself very well, as a real team player. His time will come.”
Navigator Marcel Snijders finally summarizes it all: “It was a rally with ups and downs, but overall a super nice rally and I think we deserved to win.”
Source Boss Machinery Team De Rooy Iveco
Photo: A.S.O./F.Le Floc'h/DPPI
Prior to the 2023 Dakar Rally, Gert Huzink and Pascal de Baar wanted to compete for the podium. Due to various technical problems, they did not succeed. However, both Huzink (stage 3) and De Baar (stage 10) did book a day's victory. De Baar recorded a total of six top 5 results this Dakar, three of which were in the top 3.
De Baar had to throw in the towel already in the first stage due to a leaking oil line. Gert Huzink later had to leave the race with a broken cylinder. Even out of competition, the problems continued to occur, forcing Huzink to quit altogether and De Baar to skip a stage. Even in the final stage, De Baar had to stop briefly because of a loose hose from the intercooler. He finished the final stage with the sixteenth time.
"Too bad, but that's also part of the Dakar," De Baar knows. "Without the technical problems we could easily keep up with the top three. Unfortunately it may not be so and we had too many problems."
Automatic tranlsation from the original Dutch version
Source Riwald Dakar Team
After eleven participations in Dakar, between 2006 and 2017, where he had a remarkable career on two wheels, Hélder Rodrigues returned to the competition to make his debut in cars competing in Class T3 for light prototypes.
A project for which a bright future is foreseen for the "little star", who has already been systematically among the fastest in this Dakar. He came close to winning a stage to add to the nine he has already won in past years. He competed in a South Racing CanAm and was accompanied in navigation by Gonçalo Reis. A positive balance from a pilot who has become used to always wanting more and working for it.
"It was my first Dakar on four wheels, I had a lot to learn, some racing details, we had already done some tests, but in racing we had little experience. We were always evolving, gaining confidence. After five years without a serious competition it's difficult to go back, but it's challenging. It was a very hard Dakar with many days of racing, but also very beautiful days. Now we have to keep working and get back to physical, psychological and technical shape in the car, to achieve a strong and big evolution and improve in all aspects", said Helder Rodrigues at the end of the rally.
Automatic translation from the original Portuguese version available on www.todoterreno.pt
Source: Helder Rodrigues official press release
- STAGE 14: Al-Hofuf - Dammam
On the program for the 14th and final stage of this 2023 Dakar, was a 417 km course from Al-Hofuf to Dammam, including 136 km of special. After more than 8,000 km in the Saudi desert, our Sherco Factory rider Laurenzo Santolino finished 9th overall!
The Spaniard rode an intelligent race for 2 weeks, making very few mistakes, sparing his 450 SEF Rally and limiting risk-taking while occasionally getting close to the race leaders. Often at the gates of the top 10, he was consistent and followed the team's strategy, he reached 9th place yesterday and never let go.
“I finished 9th, a very satisfying result. It was a difficult edition but we managed and our strategy allowed me to finish in the top 10, improving by two places on last year's results. I thank the entire Sherco Factory Rally team and all the people who supported me. Now it's time for the return trip home for a rest phase and to enjoy my family."
And on Harith Noah who was injured in a fall, he was repatriated to India and is continuing his recovery wearing a back brace. As for Rui Gonçalves who suffered a racing incident is doing well, anxious to get back into competition.
You will find the Sherco Factory Rally riders on the tracks at the upcoming Rallies.
Ranking for the day:
Lorenzo Santolino: P12, +7mn 37s
Lorenzo Santolino: P9, +1h 17 mins
Source Sherco Factory Racing
- In the SSVs, the youngest Dakar entrant ever benefited from a massive plot twist in the last stage, as the leader, Rokas Baciuška, surrendered the top spot to the 18-year-old Pole Eryk Goczał, who will share the podium with his father, Marek, in third place. A family that races together stays together.
Following Austin Jones's promotion to T3, logic dictated that the title would come down to a clash between the Goczał brothers, Marek and Michał, who had hoovered up eight stage wins between them last year; the W2RC champion in the SSV category, Rokas Baciuška; or even the 2022 runner-up, the experienced Gerard Farrés. But the real threat came from left field, namely from a rookie by the name of Eryk Goczał —Marek's son. At the tender age of 18, the Pole became the youngest Dakar stage winner on the second day, breaking Seth Quintero's record.
Some might have put it down to beginner's luck, but the latest scion of the Goczał family did not rest on his laurels. His tour de force in stage 4 positioned him among the pretenders to the crown, alongside his father and Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira, who was a paragon of consistency in the first half of the event before losing over 40 minutes and slipping out of contention. Lady Luck also frowned on other big names: Baciuška, Marek, Eryk…
There was something for everyone, but it did have the beneficial consequence of tightening the race. Baciuška seized the lead and managed to defend a narrow gap until the evening of the penultimate stage. With a bit over three minutes separating the Lithuanian and Eryk Goczał, the title was still up for grabs. While the finale was widely seen as little more than a walk in the park, this was definitely not the case for Baciuška, who lost around twenty minutes due to a broken suspension arm. Eryk Goczał, more determined than ever, took his maiden Dakar win after all.
It was an exploit for the ages for the family, as Marek also succeeded in defending his third place overall. Baciuška, second, finished one rung higher than in 2022, but it will no doubt leave a bitter taste in his mouth. Over 53 h of racing in the SSV category with a twist at the end.
Source A.S.O. / Dakar Rally
- In T3, victory went to Austin Jones, who had already brought the T4 trophy home last year, while the truck title went to Janus van Kasteren, the first Dutch winner of the race since Gerard de Rooy in 2016.
When "Chaleco" López, the defending champion of the T3 category, got the ball rolling for the 45th Dakar on the Sea Camp, everyone expected a rematch between the Chilean and Seth Quintero, the driver who had won virtually every stage of the previous edition. But one prologue does not a Dakar winner make. Cristina Gutiérrez took the opener ahead of Quintero, with no reason to suspect that Austin Jones's twelfth place was his first step towards victory in Dammam.
Yet that is exactly what happened. Gutiérrez, López and Quintero played a game of musical chairs at the top of the general standings until disaster struck each of them in turn, with snafus such as getting stuck in a flooded river in stage 3 or losing a wheel along the way. Mitch Guthrie was also hit by a mechanical in stage 5, leaving Guillaume de Mevius in the lead with Jones hot on his heels. The Belgian thought it was his for a long time, at least until km 41 of stage 11, when a mechanical in the desert cost him and his co-driver François Cazalet more than an hour and a half. From then on, the race was Jones's to lose. It was all over but the shouting.
A series of victories by Guthrie, Quintero and even the new Yamaha prototypes driven by João Ferreira and Ricardo Porem failed to rattle the ever-consistent Jones, who only finished five times outside the top 5. The American, who had already won the SSV race last year, grabbed the T3 title on his first attempt.
Source A.S.O. / Dakar Rally
In 2022, Manuel Andújar's title defence campaign ended not with a whimper, but a bang, as the Argentinian crashed out of the race in stage 6. This time round, he was out for revenge on Alexandre Giroud, who had pounced on the opportunity to usurp his throne.
Coming a few weeks after the football World Cup final between France and Argentina, the duel between the last two winners of the Dakar doubled as a rematch! But once again, Messi's compatriot did not reach the goal. First, mechanical troubles in stage 3 sent him careening down the standings, and then his quad's engine received a red card in stage 11.
Francisco Moreno Flores became Argentina's lead striker, but time was not in his favour, as the Frenchman's sizeable lead allowed him to play defensively.
The Brazilian Marcelo Medeiros, racing to defend his honour after withdrawing from a stage and becoming ineligible for the overall, claimed four wins. Alexandre Giroud retained his crown. The Yamaha man, clad in blue, is the second rider to score back-to-back wins, after the Argentinian Alejandro Patronelli in 2011 and 2012.
Source A.S.O. / Dakar Rally
Janus van Kasteren ended six years of undisputed Russian hegemony to add his name in the annals and bring Iveco's total to three Dakar victories. As usual in the most prestigious rally raid on Earth, it's consistency wot won it.
Martin Macík did his best, winning the first two specials, but a brake problem in stage 2 cost him the lead. Van Kasteren, driving with Darek Rodewald and Marcel Snijders in the cockpit, was among the speediest in the race against the clock, although stage 4 kicked some sand in his gears and threatened to ruin it all. He lost nearly an hour that day and tumbled to fifth place in the standings, at the time led by the even more consistent Aleš Loprais. The Czech did not pursue stage wins at all costs, instead profiting from his rivals' blunders and misfortunes. The Tatra driver seemed destined for victory, but he had to retire ahead of stage 10 due to his involvement in an accident that claimed the life of an Italian spectator.
Van Kasteren then inherited first place. The first driver not in a Kamaz last year, he managed to dodge the pitfalls in certain specials to power away, beyond the reach of his opponents. Neither Martin van den Brink, nor his son Mitchel, who became the youngest special winner in the truck race in stage 6, nor Macík managed to crack Van Kasteren, who wrapped up the 45th Dakar with three stage wins under his belt.
Source A.S.O. / Dakar Rally
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