2022 South African Rally-Raid Championship to continue as planned.

The 2022 South African Rally-Raid Championship got underway on a high, although not so dry, note with the Mpumalanga 400 taking place in and around a wet Dullstroom, towards the end of March. Severe weather, and unprecedented flooding during April caused massive humanitarian devastation only three weeks before the planned #TeamHilux Sugarbelt 400, and the subsequent announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare KwaZulu-Natal a national state of disaster, forced the SA Rally-Raid Exco to postpone the event.
The flooding impacted landowners and many areas of the proposed route were impassable with the conditions not allowing for alternative routes to be identified.
Given the current circumstances and the effects of trying to reshuffle the calendar, the decision was made to cancel the 2022 #TeamHilux Sugarbelt 400 for the 2022 season. This, however, does not mean the event is lost to competitors or the area and the SA Rally-Raid Exco has assured the Beaumont Farmer’s Association, landowners and involved parties of their commitment for the 2023 season.
The food donation initiative sponsored by Malalane Toyota, a member of the #TeamHilux Rally-Raid squad, that was scheduled to take place during the event, will still go ahead with 1000 learners from six schools in the Eston/Mid-Illovo area benefitting from this gesture.
“The traditional Sugarbelt 400 has a proud history and regarded by many as a true cross-country event, and we have every intention of returning to the Eston/Mid Illovo area next year,” said SA Rally-Raid CEO Archie Rutherford.
The rest of the season will consist of four challenging events. Next up will be the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA (TGRSA) 1000 Desert Race that will take place over three days on 24, 25 and 26 June over a thousand kilometres in the Upington area of the Northern Cape. Competitors will just have enough time to catch their breath and recover from the testing marathon race before travelling to Bronkhorstspruit for the halfway mark event of the season on 19 and 20 August.
From there the popular Nampo 400 will be next on the calendar when teams will return to the Bothaville area in the Free State to compete on 30 September and 1 October before rounding off the season with the Parys 400 on 12 November. The SA Rally-Raid Exco, in collaboration with the landowners, are investigating the possibilities of staging the Parys 400 as a double-header on 11 and 12 November, featuring two one-day events.
Should this be feasible, the SA Rally-Raid Championship hope to make an announcement by mid-July.

Source SARRC

2022 Tunisia Desert Challenge: Tunisia Desert Challenge concluded with a beautiful eighth stage

The participants had to sit on their hands for two days. Due to a sandstorm, the Tunisia Desert Challenge could not be run. On Friday all lights were green again to close the week well and the winners in the four classes could be honored.


In the motorcycle race, victory on the final day of the rally went to Neels Theric. He was one minute faster than Mathieu Doveze, who fought for the victory in the final standings until the last day. Nick Janssens finished in third place in the day standings with Bertrand Gavard and Alessandro Botturi in fourth and fifth place.
Botturi eventually became the overall winner of the match. At the finish, he still had an eleven-minute margin on Doveze. Thanks to his win, Theric steamed up to the podium on the last day. Janssens was in sixth place the best Belgian in the motorcycle standings.

Cars and Buggies

The buggies have dominated the Tunisia Desert Challenge this week and remained so on the eighth day. Simon Vitse again took the win, his third of the race. He won the last stage with a lead of more than seven minutes. Jerome Pelichet finished in second place with Erwin Imschoot in third place. Gintas Petrus finished fourth in the final stage on Friday ahead of Mike van Eikeren.
In the standings, the main prize also went to Vitse, who successfully defended his lead on the last day against Pelichet. In the standings he was ten minutes ahead of the experienced Pelichet. Cedric Rivet was third. The battle in the 4x4s was between Mike van Eikeren and Ronald van Loon on the last day.
Van Eikeren ran into problems on the last day, but held onto his lead. “We had a great ride today, it was a really great day,” said Van Eikeren. “It is a pity that it went wrong for a while at the end, about ten kilometers before the sandwiches. Then two shock absorbers broke off. We kept driving and at lunch it was made. We put one from right to left. The collaboration with Wouter went really well this week, we started a bit poorly. We would have preferred to be a little closer to the buggies, but we were able to make up for that later. It was great, we had a wonderful week.”
Ronald van Loon finished just behind Van Eikeren, although he did his utmost on Friday to overtake the leader in the 4x4s. “Today it was absolutely not a tour around the church, it was quite a serious test”, says Van Loon. “A lot of people went wrong in the beginning, because of the dust a lot of people went in the wrong direction. There was a castle that you had to use as a benchmark, but you hardly saw it. Fortunately we were just in time, we were able to make up for a lot of time there. Then we caught up with Mike, but the time was just not good enough. I would have liked the rally to have been a few days longer, then we could have made even more of a difference. But it was a good rally with a serious starting field.”
On the eighth plate, Philippe Lambilliotte was the best Belgian. He finished ahead of Ronald Schoolderman, Erwin Imschoot. Vincent Thijs finished in eleventh place.


Although there were a number of good Dutch participants at the start of the trucks, the race was mainly a Belgian affair. Steven Rotsaert won the last stage ahead of Igor Bouwens and Adwin Hoondert. Bouwens was the strongest in the standings, his lead at the end of the race was about twenty minutes over Rotsaert. Hoondert took third place in the general classification, who had navigator Jasper Riezebos on board for the occasion.
“We clicked quite well right away, the trust was good”, says Riezebos about the collaboration with Hoondert. “We had a beautiful week. I had never experienced it here in Tunisia and the second day we were immediately in a mess. I was actually wrong about that, but Adwin also dares to accelerate. We got through that nicely with the coaching I was able to give every now and then. We stayed outside the tracks and looked for our own lines. Furthermore, it was all WRC and that suits Adwin, so he can seriously heister with that thing. If the trust is good, then it is good. We missed three waypoints this week, but we really couldn't find them. I look back on a very nice Tunisia Desert Challenge.”


Hans Weijs ensured the third day success for the Arcane SSV on Friday. He won the stage for overall winner Fernando Alvarez. Erik van Loon finished in third place with compatriots Kees Box and Michiel Becx close behind.
In the rankings this week there was no match for the Spaniard Alvarez. He built up a large lead in the standings and successfully defended it in the second half of the rally. Erik van Loon finished in second place ahead of Renaud Level, who completed the podium. Hugues Lacam was fourth after a good week ahead of Sylvain Mautret.

Moto & Quad

Overall Ranking - Moto & Quad
P1: #101 Alessandro Botturi “This victory, this feeling is absolutely incredible! We didn’t come here to compete for the win, we were just testing. This has been one of the hardest rallies I’ve ever been in, and it feels amazing to not only reach the finishing line but to actually win on the Yamaha Tenere 700 World Raid. The bike is a production bike, it’s heavy compared to the 450 we’ve been racing and obviously, it’s new to this. We’ve had only some minor issues but we managed to pull it all together. Honestly, people told us it wouldn’t be possible so to be here now under the arch of triumph at the Tunisia Desert Challenge as the winner feels absolutely fantastic. I want to thank Yamaha, my team and the people organizing the Tunisia Desert Challenge. It’s an amazing experience and hopefully, it’s the first adventure of many.”

tunisia 00003


Manuel Lucchese, Team Manager Yamaha Rally Raid Racing “We’re really happy to have come here ‘cause the organization of this rally proved to be top level. It was a excellent race with tricky navigation, and tough stages, so for us it was even tougher since we have a big adventure bike compared to the 450cc rally bikes. We came here with the aim of testing to find out at what stage we were with the development of the bike. We wanted to do well and have fun in the process, but winning clearly wasn’t the goal. However, Alessandro won the rally on our first attempt and we’re sure happy about it. We spent the last year developing the bike. It’s very close to the standard bike, the main differences clearly are the larger tanks because we needed a bigger fuel autonomy, the suspension, and the navigation tower required to fit instruments like the roadbook and so on, but the engine is completely standard as well as the frame. The team worked very well, and I want to thank every member of our team. We all had fun which is the most important thing and I believe that, since we were having fun and were like a good family, that’s why the result came about. Alessandro Botturi did a great job, he proved to have a lot of experience. We applied the strategy of just being consistent every day, and we won through sheer consistency without even winning one stage. As for Pol Tarrés, unfortunately had some bad luck but we’re really impressed with his performance. This is Pol’s first ever rally. Pol only saw a few roadbooks before coming here, but nevertheless he’s been very fast. Pol learned a lot from the experience gained in this rally, which will be very useful in the next adventures. We thank Yamaha Europe, without them we wouldn’t be here.”

P2: #103 Matthieu Doveze "I am a bit sad, because at one point I was close to winning this rally. Unfortunately, I finished second in the general classification of the motorcycles. I made a few small mistakes and unfortunately my strategy did not work. The Tunisia Desert Challenge is a really good rally and ideal for learning to navigate well, because it has a lot of difficult navigation sections."

P3: #122 Theric Neels "I'm really happy that I not only got to the finish line, but also won today's stage and third place in the overall standings. So it's super positive for the future."

Results - SSV
P1: #216 Hans Weijs & Tim Rietveld
P2: #210 Fernando Alvarez & Xavier Panseri
P3: #204 Erik Van Loon & Sébastien Delaunay

tunisia 00004

Overall Ranking - SSV
P1: #210 Fernando Alvarez & Xavier Panseri "Today was again difficult navigating, but I have a great co-pilot in Xavier Panseri and my team gave me a great car, and I also did my job. All in all, we made history. I am really happy because it was not easy at all, the dunes were very difficult to cross. I want to thank the organisation of the Tunisia Desert Challenge, because it was not easy and they made us work a lot."

P2: #204 Erik Van Loon & Sébastien Delaunay "Today we finished well on experience. We had lost an hour and a half earlier in the week due to a broken suspension arm. After that you have to aim as high as possible and that was second place overall."

Car & Buggy

Results - Car & Buggy
P1: #319 Simon Vitse & Frédéric Lefebvre
P2: #312 Thierry Bunel Gourdy - J.M. Polato
P3: #304 Jerome Pelichet & Pascal Larroque

Overall Ranking - Car & Buggy
P1: #319 Simon Vitse & Frédéric Lefebvre
Simon Vitse: "Today we are proud to have done this rally and to have won four of the six stages. For us, this rally was a bit decisive in the sense that we didn't know what to expect, especially for Fred who had never done any navigation. In the end, the fact that we opened the track three quarters of the rally, and even better today because we only had two bikes in front of us at the end, for Fred it was the best school. Afterwards, I really enjoyed driving the car. We didn't ride beyond our means, on the contrary, we kept some reserve. But we can see that it is paying off and that it is promising for the future, so we are very, very happy.
Frédéric Lefebvre: "We were there to learn and that's what we did for eight days so it's great. Now we have to repeat this quickly to put forward the knowledge acquired. We did a good job but rally-raid is more complicated every day and we still have a lot to learn."

P2: #304 Jérôme Pelichet & Pascal Larroque
"We did a very nice last stage, there was a bit of everything, rolling, brittle, fast, a bit of very technical track, we really liked it. For a last stage, it was a bit rough, but really beautiful. As for the rally itself, it was as good as anything the organisation can offer. In short, a very nice rally, well organised, a really great atmosphere. This year, the weather conditions were not exceptional. But in the end, everything is offset by the quality of the rally, the fun, the organisation, the tracks are very good. So for me, everything is positive. I will be back with great pleasure."

tunisia 00002

Overall Ranking - Truck
P1: #503 Igor Bouwens, Syndiely Wade, Ulrich Boerboom
"It was a bit disappointing at the beginning, but we were able to drive well towards the end. I have a good navigator and good mechanics that I am very happy with and they made sure we could win now. We have had a lot of bad luck in previous rallies which made us drop out. This is a mechanical sport and prizes are only awarded at the finish line and this time I am the lucky one."

P2: #506 Steven Rotsaert, Benny Raes, Lise Rotsaert
"This rally went well for us. We were constantly driving in second position. It's a pity it was too windy and we could only finish.”


Source Tunisia Desert Challenge / 

2022 Tunisia Desert Challenge: South Racing Can-Am Team's Alvarez and Van Loon seal 1-2 SSV finish at the Tunisia Desert Challenge

South Racing Can-Am Team’s Fernando Alvarez and Erik van Loon secured a stunning 1-2 finish in the SSV category on the gruelling eight-day Tunisia Desert Challenge, with Alvarez earning a first ever outright victory in his Can-Am Maverick by the margin of 1hr 32min 56sec and also reaching the finish in third place in the general classification.

An event that started out from the island of Djerba and finished at the Star Wars filming location, deep in the Tunisian desert, attracted a strong entry of mainly amateur drivers and riders. Alvarez was able to secure his success with French co-driver Xavier Panseri by setting the third fastest time on the last loop stage around the Star Wars bivouac on Friday.

Dutchman Van Loon is more often seen on FIA Cross-Country events in more powerful T1 machines, but he teamed up with Frenchman Sëbastien Delaunay and South Racing to finish second in the SSV section and fourth overall. Anja Van Loon and Rudolf Meijer were classified in 25th in a third South Racing Can-Am.

South Racing Can-Am Team’s managing director Scott Abraham said: “It was a great rally for the South Racing Can-Am Team, with Fernando and Erik finishing 1-2 in SSV and third and fourth in the general classification. It was a dominating rally from the South Racing Can-Am Team.

“This event was something a little different. We were able to run with no restrictor and were able to utilise the full potential of the Maverick. It was a great week of racing, even if the weather didn’t play along all the time. In the end we managed to get a good stage in at the end to finish at the Star Wars movie set.

“It was a great maiden victory for Fernando on an international cross-country event. It was also pleasing to welcome Erik and Anja to the South Racing team. We now look forward to Andalucia where we go on to defend our lead in the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship.”

Action got underway from Djerba with a short and tricky opener of around 60km. Van Loon recorded the fourth quickest time with Alvarez winning the Prologue in the SSV category by 36 seconds.

As Van Loon’s co-driver Delaunay said: “We opened the track almost all stage after the three cars in front of us were lost and we finished fourth, despite having to slow down a bit at the end. The track was a bit dangerous with no marks on it. We couldn’t see very well and decided to be a bit more defensive.”

Van Loon opened the road again and was quickest on the second 360km special between Djerba and Matous, the Dutchman beating Hugues Lacam by 17min 15sec to snatch the outright lead. Alvarez came home in fifth place and Anja van Loon was 30th.

The third stage ran on a loop around the bivouac in Matous and crews tackled a selective section of 354km, before heading on to Ksar Ghilane on a fourth day that offered 300km of competition. Alvarez claimed the third stage win by 8min 52sec and was third fastest on the next stage where Van Loon dropped time

The South Racing duo continued to push on through the fifth day, although Van Loon lost around 25 minutes with a small navigational error and endured delays in a small dune that “held us prisoner” for a long time, according to Delaunay. Alvarez finished the day with the second quickest time and retained the outright lead, while Anja van Loon was down in 32nd position.

Day six was cancelled because of extreme desert weather conditions, but competitors still had to travel non-competitively between Ksar Ghilane and Douz in sand storm conditions. The shortened seventh stage between Douz and the Star Wars filming location started on schedule but was stopped because of heavy winds, reduced visibility and safety concerns.

The South Racing Can-Am Team received valuable support for the race programme from Method Wheels, Tensor Tires, Motul, Bell, Jjuan Brake Systems, Lazer and OMP.

2022 Tunisia Desert Challenge – final standings (SSV category):
1. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 22hr 31min 51sec
2. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 24hr 04min 47sec
3. Renaud Niveau (FRA)/Joël Labille (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 24hr 57min 41sec
4. Hugues Lacern (FRA)/Max Delfino (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 24hr 57min 42sec
5. Sylvain Mautret (FRA)/Delphine Delfino (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 25hr 45min 02sec
6. Jan Van Cerven (NLD)/Caspar Schellekens (NLD) Polaris 26hr 15min 43sec
25. Anja Van Loon (NLD)/Rudolf Meijer (NLD) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 51hr 55min 08sec

Source South Racing

2022 Tunisia Desert Challenge Race Report: Stage 6 and 7 cancelled


Sandstorm keeps participants sidelined for another day in the TDC 

After Wednesday's cancelled stage, all participants were motivated for the last two days of the Tunisia Desert Challenge. Unfortunately, the strong wind blew it again, and the participants had to return to the bivouac.
The conditions were slightly more favorable on Thursday morning and therefore the seventh stage from Douz to Nefta started. The motorcyclists were on their way and the first cars had also started the test, the conditions deteriorated. The wind was blowing harder and visibility
deteriorated. Ultimately, the organization was forced to cancel the stage. The started participants were then escorted out of the test while the rest of the participants drove from the start over the road to the Star Wars bivouac.
There is full understanding of the situation in the bivouac, especially because the safety of the participants must not be compromised. It should have been a wonderful race in the dunes of El Borma and with the penultimate stage along Chot El Jerid.
For the time being, the eighth and final stage of Friday is still on the agenda with a stage of about 300 kilometers with start and finish at the Star Wars film set.


Source Tunisia Desert Challenge

2022 Tunisia Desert Challenge Race Report: Stage 5


Weijs wins fifth stage Tunisia Desert Challenge

Hans Weijs won the fifth stage of the Tunisia Desert Challenge in the SSV class oSSVsn Tuesday. Another day success for the new Arcane car, which debuted in the Dakar Rally earlier this year.


In the SSV class, Weijs was too fast for the Spanish classification leader Fernando Alvarez. Alvarez reached the finish line in just over five minutes, but was given a three-minute time penalty at the finish. He finished eight minutes behind. Gert Huzink took third place, but gave in to the day winner for more than eighteen minutes. Behind that more Dutchmen finished: Pelle Moens in fourth place ahead of Kees Box and Martin van den Brink. The latter was there again after he crashed shortly before the end of the test on Monday.

Alvarez is in the lead in the standings. The lead on Renaud Level from France is more than two hours, he had a difficult day on Tuesday and came to the finish one hour behind. Sylvain Mautret is third in the ranking of the SSVs.

Erik van Loon lost a lot of time on Tuesday. He's in the rear.


There is absolutely no stopping to Mathieu Doveze for the time being. He took the win again on Tuesday. The lead was generous. At the finish, the Frenchman was exactly seven minutes faster than Jerome Martiny, Alessandro Botturi finished in third place. He remains the classification leader after five stages. Neels Theric finished fourth on Tuesday while Mitchel van den Brink completed his best rally day of the week. He was fifth, just 39 minutes behind.

French motorcyclist David Mulot has had to give up the fight. He stopped during the stage with a broken engine and was picked up by the sweeper truck. His match is over.

Cars and Buggies

For the second day in a row, Simon Vitse has won the stage with the cars. The Frenchman of MD Rallye was a minute faster than his teammate Jerome Pelichet. Mike van Eikeren has found his rhythm after a difficult start. Together with navigator Wouter de Graaf he finished in third place. The gap to Vitse was just over four minutes. Hugues Moilet finished in fourth place ahead of Cedric Rivet's Land Rover. Vincent Thijs had one of his better days this rally. The Fleming finished in sixth place, although he still had to take a time penalty of three minutes.

Ghilene Baazis and Selim Kanzari struggled for two days in the dune area of El Borma. Only now have they given up. They are picked up by the sweeper truck. They came with a Land Cruiser for the GB Team.


Eimbert Timmermans and his team had another setback in the TDC on Tuesday. Not long after the start, Timmermans had to stop because his navigator was not fit. He was therefore unable to complete the test. Steven Rotsaert and Miklos Kovacs were the first trucks to finish in the fifth stage, but the victory was for Rotsaert.

Igor Bouwens was on course for the win for a long time, but had bad luck in the final phase. He finished seventh in just over an hour and a half. Kovacs is the new leader in the standings.

#103 Mathieu Doveze
Today I opened the stage and everything went very well. It was very tough in the dunes today, but I didn't make any major navigation errors. By winning the stage 7 minutes ahead of Jerome Martiny, who is ahead of me in the general classification, I did a good operation today and gained time in the general classification.

P2: #112 Jerome Martiny
Second place, so it's a good day. I immediately saw that I was going to like the track today. It was faster, more open, so at km 12 I had already overtaken Botturi. I had a good pace and at km 40 I got into third and a bit later I got into second. Then I tried to leave Botturi behind, but I couldn't, he followed me all day. Just at the end, there was more sand and I attacked because I saw on my road book that the navigation was quite easy so I gained 40 seconds on Botturi at the end. All in all, it was a good day apart from the fact that Mathieu Doveze still gained 7 minutes on me. But I think something will happen tomorrow.

P3: #101 Alessandro Botturic
Today was a good day. It was a very difficult stage, again with difficult sand dunes and also a lot of rocks. I even fell, but I'm fine, with only a few minor bruises. The bike performed great again, not easy in the sand of course as it is quite heavy, but the extra power helps. We're not here to win but to test and develop the bike, so to consistently be on the podium at each stage, apart from one, is a fantastic result. Tomorrow is a very difficult and long stage, so it will be a new challenge for the bike, but so far it's going well and I feel happy and confident.


P1: #216 Hans Weijs & Tim Rietveld
Our race went very well today. We drove together with Janus the whole time, but 30 km before the end he broke down and came to a stop and we continued. It's getting better all the time. We are making progress and the car is running perfectly, so we are very satisfied,
We learn more every day and we feel there is more to come.

P2: #210 Fernando Alvarez & Xavier Panseric
My day was really good today. Xavier's navigation was perfect, the car was perfect. The stage was much better and we really enjoyed the race. If everything goes perfectly like today, we will be very happy.

Car & Buggy

P1: #319 Simon Vitse & Frédéric Lefebvre
It was a nice stage today. We made a small navigation error in the beginning, but no more errors afterward. We had a flat tire sixty kilometers before the finish, but we managed to change it quickly and we drove well. We spared the car and drove a perfect course.

P2: #304 Jerome Pelichet & Pascal Larroque
Today we started with the idea of attacking as we were very far back on the starting line. We drove very well until the arrival of the dunes and already overtook a lot of competitors. The crossing of the dunes went very well this time, unlike yesterday when we had a small problem, but today no problems at all. We arrived very well at the rest point. We remained on the defensive for the rest of the stage because we had a burning smell in the car which did not prevent the car from working but made us doubt what was the cause. So we wanted to be sure and not overheat the car or run into trouble so as not to jeopardize our arrival and remain well placed in the overall ranking.

P3 : #302 Mike van Eikeren & Wouter de Graaff
Today everything went well, and I am happy with how Wouter navigates. Three kilometers before the end we saw Janus van Kasteren with bad luck on the side and then we took him in tow. I don't know what happened to his truck. He hooked his vehicle onto mine and I towed him across the finish line.


Source Tunisia Desert Challenge

2022 Tunisia Desert Challenge Race Report: Stage 4


Shortened fourth leg of Tunisia Desert Challenge challenging for many participants

After Sunday's gruelling third stage, the Tunisia Desert Challenge organization decided to shorten Monday's fourth stage to a special of 217 kilometers. In the cars, Simon Vitse took his first win while Janus van Kasteren was victorious in the SSV class.


After the tragic death of Matthieu de Saint-Exupery on Sunday, the motorcyclists picked up again on Monday in a shortened stage. A minute of silence was observed in memory of the Frenchman, after which the match continued. Mathieu Doveze continued in the same vein after a promising start to the rally.

For Doveze it was already his third victory of the week. He was five minutes faster than Duong Nguyen Khoa. Neels Theric finished third ahead of Bertrand Gavard. Classification leader Alessandro Botturi finished in fifth place, but expanded his lead over Jerome Martiny a little further. Botturi now has a ten minute lead over Martiny, Doveze is third at just over twenty minutes behind.


Cars and buggies

The cars clearly showed that the tough third stage had left its mark. In total, about 21 teams with a car, SSV or truck had to spend the night in the desert. Some were able to start again on Monday, but for some the problems were too big to continue the race. During the fourth stage, Hugues Mollet came to a halt with the Optimus Buggy. They have enlisted the help of the sweeper truck to get out of the desert.

Simon Vitse has been showing strong in the cars for a few days and he crowned it with his first stage win on Monday. The Frenchman was over a minute faster than Guy Housset. Behind that, Philippe Lambilliotte was the first Belgian in third place. Gintas Petrus was fourth ahead of Erwin Imschoot. Mike van Eikeren was the best Dutchman in seventh place.

Vincent Thijs finished in thirteenth place, just ahead of the reigning TDC champion Ronald Schoolderman.


The only Dutch success of the day came in the SSV class, where Janus van Kasteren took the win. He made a big gap with the pursuers. Fernando Alvarez finished more than fourteen minutes behind while Hans Weijs finished in third place. Hugues Lacam eventually finished fourth, barely keeping Kees Box behind him.

After his victory in the second stage, Erik van Loon had a slightly less good day on Monday. He conceded nearly 27 minutes on day winner Alvarez. He dropped to third place in the standings as a result. Lacam is now in the lead with a lead of just fifteen seconds over Alvarez. Van Loon is third at seven minutes.

Martin van den Brink can forget his classification. The leader of Mammoet Rallysport would have crashed shortly before the finish of the stage. He and navigator Erwin Voskuilen were unharmed in the incident, but the duo did not make it to the finish of the stage. It is still unclear whether they can start again in the coming days.


In the toughest class, Igor Bouwens returned to the lead. After more than three hours he was the fastest in the test. Steven Rotsaert finished eighteen minutes behind in second, but received a time penalty afterwards. He retained his second place, because Miklos Kovacs also received a time penalty. Adwin Hoondert had his best day in this TDC, finishing fourth at exactly one hour. Eimbert Timmermans returned to the race after Sunday's problems. He came fifth.


#103 Mathieu Doveze
Today went well, I started leading halfway through the race and then I tried to take off to get higher up in the overall ranking. Everything went very well and I had no problems.

P2: #102 Duong Nguyen Khoa
Today we left with the sandstorm. Everything went pretty well until my road book broke down. Again I had to manipulate my roadbook by hand but I still managed to catch up with almost everyone. Two kilometers before the end, while handling my road book, I fell and twisted the handlebars. Overall it's going well and I finished in second place today.

P3: #122 Neels Theric
Today the stage went well for me. I started in sixth position. I was able to overtake my competitors in front. In the dunes I managed to take off from the pack together with Mathieu Doveze. Unfortunately at the exit of the dunes I had a small fall and he took off. I didn't manage to catch up and finish the stage with him. But overall it was still positive because I gained a lot of places in the overall ranking.


P1: #297 Janus van Kasteren & Marcel Snijders
Today everything ran smoothly. We left in a light sandstorm but it didn't bother us much. The navigation was smooth and we were able to maintain a good pace. As far as we're concerned it was a great day as we crossed the line first.

P2: #210 Fernando Alvarez & Xavier Panseri
Today we opened the track. It was very complicated as we’ve never done this before but it was OK. It was a perfect stage, the car was perfect too, in fact it was a perfect day and I’m very happy about that.

P3:#216 Hans Weys & Tim Rietveld
Today everything went quite smoothly. We only made some minor mistakes when navigating but we were able to make up for the lost time. The car drives perfectly and it was a good day as we finished third.

Car & Buggy
P1: #319 Simon Vitse & Frederic Lefebvre
Today everything went incredibly well. Our Optimus drives absolutely according to wish, this car performs very well. Despite the fact that it is his very first rally for my navigator Frederic, he navigates incredibly well. This was a short but fun stage and we are happy to have won today.

P2: #314 Guy Housset & Loic Minaudier
We drove well today, made few mistakes in navigation and our pace was quite high. It's a shame that the stage was shortened today because maybe there would have been more people today and we could have gone for the win.

P3: #302 Philippe & Maxime Lambilliotte
Today we finally achieved a good result after a few days of hardship. We made only a few minor navigation errors, but we were able to make up for lost time due to our fast pace. We are therefore satisfied with third place today.

P1: #503 Igor Bouwens, Syndiely Wade, Ulrich Boerboom
Today was another almost perfect day. Our truck has had no problems whatsoever and navigating has been hassle free as well. So we are happy with the win today and the fact that we are still in the lead in the general classification.

P2: #506 Steven Rotsaert, Benny Raes, Lise Rotsaert
It was a shortened stage today and we didn't have any significant problems with the truck and navigation. Finished second today and we are quite happy with that.

P3: #504 Miklós Kovacs, Peter Czeglédi, László Ács
It was a fairly easy stage today, which was also shorter than originally planned. We took a wrong turn a few times but we managed to make up for the lost time.


Source Tunisia Desert Challenge

2022 Tunisia Desert Challenge Race Report: Stage 2



Erik van Loon wins second stage Tunisia Desert Challenge

Erik van Loon and his navigator Sebastien Delaunay won the first long stage of the Tunisia Desert Challenge in the SSV class on Saturday. The other winners were Mathieu Doveze, Jerome Pelichet and Igor Bouwens.


Erik van Loon made a name for himself in the SSV class. After his fourth place in the prologue, he had an excellent starting position for the 354 kilometer long stage between Djerba and Matous. Van Loon was the fastest at all intermediate points and at the end of the day was more than the fastest driver on the field. Hugues Lacam from France kept abreast. He was second, but already gave in to Van Loon for about seventeen minutes. Kees Box also stayed out of trouble, but conceded just over half an hour on the day's winner. Fernando Alvarez, the winner of the prologue, finished fourth ahead of Renaud Level.

At the SSVs, several top drivers dropped out on Saturday. Hans Weijs had to leave the game, but Janus van Kasteren was also one of the dropouts. They did very well in the prologue on Friday, but have now had to take a lot of penalty time. It is not yet clear whether they will start again on Sunday.


Mathieu Doveze is currently a size too big for the competition in the motorbikes. The Frenchman was the fastest at every intermediate point on Saturday and stayed out of trouble in the difficult passages. During the test there were several stumbling blocks for the motorcyclists, but Doveze overcame them all with gusto. He had a lead of just over six minutes over Italian driver Alessandro Botturi. Nick Janssens was the first Belgian in third place, he kept Duong Nguyen Khoa and Neels Theric behind him.

 Cars and Buggies

Among the cars there was also a French winner. Jerome Pelichet, together with his navigator Pascal Larroque, was the fastest and they built up a nice lead. Erwin Imschoot was second at about eight minutes from the winner of the day. Former quad rider Simon Vitse made the switch to the cars and took a podium place on Saturday, he finished third ahead of two Dutch teams: Ronald Schoolderman was fourth ahead of Mike van Eikeren in fifth place.

Public favorite Vincent Thijs is having a less good day. He finished in sixteenth place. But there were more unlucky ones: Lieven De Brabant and Bert Mourik also had to deal with technical problems on the course.


On Friday, alarming reports came in about Aart Schoones' truck, Saturday it was confirmed that he had to leave the TDC with engine problems. The match just went on. Igor Bouwens took the win with the Iveco. Miklos Kovacs from Hungary finished second ahead of Claudio Bellina. It meant that Eimbert Timmermans, the winner of the first day, had lost a lot of time. He finished almost two hours behind.


Source: Tunisia Desert Challenge


2022 Tunisia Desert Challenge Race Report: Scrutineering & Prologue


Organizer Gert Duson looks ahead to Tunisia Desert Challenge: “Very proud of what we have achieved”

In Djerba, the final preparations are made for the start of the second Tunisia Desert Challenge. Organizer Gert Duson looks ahead and is proud of what will happen this week in Tunisia: "It is unbelievable what we have achieved here in six months."

Usually there is a year between two editions of a rally, but after the debut in Tunisia in November, organizer Gert Duson wanted to go to the spring with the Tunisia Desert Challenge. Where the first edition was one for adventurers, all registers have been pulled out to make the second TDC a big spectacle. "Normally I spend a year preparing for a rally, but it all had to go very quickly," Duson says. “A lot was involved, we had to arrange five charter flights. There were no boats, no flights and no helicopters.”

Those efforts have paid off. “The fact that we are here with twice as many people as in November indicates that it has been discussed. We have hardly publicized it, we have not made any presentations in the different countries. But it's a small world and people really enjoyed the first edition in November. I don't think it's surprising in that regard that we would have so many people the next edition, but of course it went very quickly."

Tunisia is popular, Duson notices. He also knows why. “At the end of the previous rally, we polled the participants. Everyone has done Morocco and we asked where they would rather ride. Nearly 60 percent answered that they prefer to drive here in Tunisia. That says a lot. As a tourist you say that Morocco is much more beautiful and that is true, in terms of landscape Morocco is much more beautiful. But the experience of driving here is completely different in Tunisia. This is especially great here for the lighter vehicles with the SSVs and the buggies. Everything is sand, there are no stones. We have a stage of 240 kilometers with no less than 200 kilometers of dunes. In Merzouga you have 30 kilometers of dunes and then Erg Chigaga, but that's about it.”

The highlight of the rally must be the passage through El Borma. In the past, many organizations have tried to get there with the rally, but just as often they failed. Duson did get the green light. “We'll only be there in two days, but on paper it all worked out and I'm very proud of that. There are many who have tried, but I am the first in the last twelve years to gain access to the area. That's not easy. We have set up the first edition and the people of the authorities have realized that we are a serious organization to be reckoned with. Others got zero when they asked the question, but I'm very proud that we got the green light."

The rally starts on Friday with a prologue over about 60 kilometers, after which the race really gets going on Saturday. “The bar is a lot higher, the level of the drivers has increased enormously,” says Duson. “The number of participants is twice as large, there is also much more in terms of material. In fact, it is so much that I even have to adjust bivouacs.” Duson expects it to be a challenging week, especially in the sporting field. “It will be a very tough week, especially for the participants. Tunisia is different, in Morocco you have a lot of stones but it all drives through. Here in the dunes of southern Tunisia you get really soft sand in this heat and many people will have a hard time with that. We have seven sweeper trucks with us for a reason.”

What do the favorites say?

After his victory last year, defending champion Ronald Schoolderman is back at the start. The leader of 4x4 Centrum Ermelo does not want to state a specific goal, but again goes for the highest achievable: “I look back very positively on the previous edition, we have come a long way. And that's not to mention the fact that it was a great battle and we took the win. The course was very challenging and we learned a lot in the dunes, which is exactly why we came. We will take that experience with us again this edition. I don't like to make statements about the target, but we want to ride well every day and have a good time with the mechanics. It's going to be a tough week."

Last year, Eimbert Timmermans was the winner of the trucks. “That first edition was great fun, the atmosphere was very relaxed. Next edition there will be more trucks at the start. If I can finish on the podium that's great, but if I don't, I'm fine with it. Winning was definitely fun for the guys with me in the truck. You have to get used to the dunes here. In November the sand stood in the first small dunes up to the door frame. After that long day with 110 kilometers of dunes, I was used to it. It was doable, but that remains exciting.”

Van den Brink was the strongest in the SSV class in November, but sees that the bar will now be set a lot higher: “Last year we came here for the first time, it was better than Morocco. I think Merzouga is great, but here you have more sand and that is very nice with a buggy. It was built for the dunes. Such a car breaks down much faster on the stones. We had a good time and this rally Erwin is sitting next to me, we always try to train navigators within the team. It will be difficult to drive fast again, but on the other hand we can show something different with a different strategy.”

#Lambilliotte (#302 - Philippe & Maxime Lambilliote) - “We had a good result last year, but this year there are more competitors. So we’re more cautious about predicting the outcome. We hope to finish in the top 5, perhaps even the top 3. But with more competitors, the race will be more complicated, but also more interesting.
The previous TDC had lots of dunes, and hopefully, this edition will be similar to last year, as we really enjoy racing in the dunes. The prologue here is nice. It’s short but dangerous. You can’t afford to make mistakes when driving on the beach, you can’t get too close to the water, otherwise, it can go very wrong. The prologue is the day when you can’t win anything but you can lose everything!”

#Pelichet (#304 Jerome Pelichet & Pascal Larroque) - “I have raced the MDC in the past, but this is the first time we’re at the TDC. However, I’ve been racing in Tunisia for a very long time, in fact since 1993. I’ve done 16 or 17 rallies, and I know the tracks very well. I think the dunes in Tunisia are not very complex, and everything should go smoothly. We’ve been racing for the last 3 years with the Optimus. It’s a two-wheel drive and very good for traversing the dunes. The car is perhaps not so strong on winding tracks but it’s a very comfortable car, which for me as I’m getting older suits me perfectly.”

#Pol Tarres - “This is my first rally, and I’m very excited to be here. I think the TDC is a really good opportunity for me to learn and to see what rally racing is all about. I want to enjoy myself while trying to do the best I can. I’ve come here to train as I need to learn a lot and ride the Yamaha Tenere 700 Rally World as much as possible. We need to try out the bike in challenging conditions, and we think the TDC is a very hard rally because of the sand and the endless dunes. I used to race extreme enduro, but now I want to race rallies and I have a very good feeling with this bike. The Yamaha Tenere 700 World Rally is something special, I really love it. Whether extreme enduro or rally, racing is my life. We can change the modality, but it’s still racing, it’s always good!”

tunisia 2

Tunisia Desert Challenge started with a hard prologue

With a prologue of 56 kilometers, the Tunisia Desert Challenge started on Friday in Djerba. After the traditional group photo on the beach, the participants were allowed to warm up for a long rally week, but the prologue also turned out to be no gift for most.
Friday's prologue consisted largely of dirt tracks with two tricky points in terms of navigation. The test was largely the same as last year's prologue, with the difference that this time it was dry at the turning point at the salt lake. Many motorcyclists had to look for the right track there, but the differences in the other classes also increased considerably.


In the SSV class, the win in the opening test went to Fernando Alvarez from Spain. Together with navigator Xavier Panseri, he made the difference in the second half of the stage. Hans Weijs was in the lead for a long time, but in the end had to leave the victory to Alvarez. He finished second ahead of Janus van Kasteren, who was stable in the top five the entire ride. It was only towards the end that he moved on to third place.
Van Kasteren did this at the expense of Erik van Loon, who lost three minutes searching for a waypoint. “It went well,” says Van Loon, who finished in fourth place just outside the podium. “The buggy is a lot of fun to drive, I enjoyed that. The navigation also went quite well, so we managed to overtake a few others. It's difficult with my eyes, I can't go full because of it. I don't want to take an unnecessary risk, but tomorrow we'll just try it."


In the motorcycle race, the win in the prologue went to Mathieu Doveze from France. He made a nice gap in the last kilometers. He kept Jerome Martiny just over two minutes behind him. Former Yamaha factory rider Alessandro Botturi finished just behind in third place.
Max Harsdorf is the first dropout of the motorcycles. He had to leave the special with a broken gearbox.

Cars and Buggies

The cars too had a French win. Simon Vitse finished fastest in his MD Optimus. He was more than half a minute faster than Philippe Lambilliotte while Guy Housset finished in third place. Jerome Pelichet was fourth ahead of Mike van Eikeren. Vincent Thijs finished in sixth place in the prologue, he gave in just over six minutes to the leader.


In the trucks, reigning champion Eimbert Timmermans took the win. He was no less than eight seconds faster than Steven Rotsaert. Paul Verheyden completed the top three. For Aart Schoones, the rally started with a major setback. He lost a lot of time with suspected motor problems. Belgian truck driver Dave Berghmans also had to leave the test prematurely due to technical problems.
Saturday's second stage goes to Matous, a fast stage of 354 kilometers.

tunisia 3

#302 - Philippe & Maxime Lambilliote - Second place today. “We’ve made a couple of small mistakes today, that cost us almost 4 minutes in the end. It’s the first day, so we needed to warm up a bit. The winner of the prologue was very, very quick. He’s a young guy and very fast and he’s got a great car. It’s the first time we race against him. We’ll see what the next day brings. It was a short day but it was nice, good tracks, it was excellent and we loved it.”

#304 Jerome Pelichet & Pascal Larroque - Fourth place. “First of all it was a very nice track today. I’d like to thank the organizer. He gave us a short course with beautiful Tunisian tracks that we hadn't seen for a long time. It was really very pleasant, almost sixty kilometers for a prologue, that’s great. This allows everyone to warm up and to get back into the swing of things. Fourth place is very good for tomorrow, because we won’t have to open. We’re very well placed for the start, it is impeccable for us.”

#216 Hans Weys & Tim Rietveld - Second place. “It was a pretty good start today. We got off to a good start and picked up a good pace. But we had started in sixteenth place, and with only 1 minute interval, we quickly ended up between the slower participants and had quite a lot of dust. As a result, we lost some time. But I think there could be a lot in it for us tomorrow. If we can get past the first car, we certainly will. We are still fairly new to this hobby and Tim has yet to explore navigating a bit. We did the Dakar and this is only our second rally.”

# 303 - Vincent Thijs & Tom De Leeuw - Sixth place. “The prologue was a bit like last year, and it was important to avoid making mistakes, to take all the waypoints, and that worked out quite well. Congratulations to everyone who didn't miss any waypoints because it certainly wasn't easy. It was a good warm-up.”

Source Tunisia Desert Challenge

2022 SARRC: Team Hilux Rally-Raid Sugarbelt 400 Postponed

"Following the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night, that KZN has been declared a national state of disaster after the recent floods which caused massive devastation, and our communique with the Beaumont Eston Farmers’ Association and landowners in the area, the decision has been made to postpone the event.

The feedback received has confirmed that many areas of the proposed route are impassable and that the current conditions do not allow for alternative routes to be identified. Furthermore, it appears from long-term weather forecasts that the weather conditions are not favourable, with more wet weather predicted in the next two weeks.

We obviously are disappointed, however, as you will appreciate this is a situation outside of our control and in the best interest of our sport to act responsibly and respect the difficult circumstances faced by the landowners. We will make an announcement in the next 10 days regarding amendments to the 2022 race calendar.

Kind regards"

Archie Rutherford CEO SA Rally-Raid Championship.

Image: Image: Andre Schoeman

SARRC 2022: SA Rally-Raid competitors to expect the same, but not quite the same for round two in KZN

With a wet and muddy first round of the 2022 South African Rally-Raid Championship now something of the past and the first points on the scoreboard, the second round of the season awaits with competitors returning to the Eston/Mid-Illovo area in KwaZulu-Natal for the umpteenth time albeit this time to compete in the Team Hilux Rally-Raid Sugarbelt 400.

This event, traditionally known as the Sugarbelt, has always been regarded as one of the tougher events on the calendar, is this year sponsored by Mpumalanga based Team Hilux Rally-Raid, who will field a two car team in Class FIA T1+ and Class FIA T1 in the Production Vehicle Category. But if competitors think they know what is to come, they might just have to think again. Prior to 2021, this event was last run in the area in 2015 and returning to the Eston/Mid Illovo area this year, will only be the second experience for many teams. Then comes the sting in the tail, with the route to be run in reverse, making it a totally different race.

The Team Hilux Rally-Raid Sugarbelt 400 will be a Standard Event and will consist of a 50 kilometre Pirelli Qualifying Race starting at 13:00 on Friday, 29 April from the Beaumont Eston Farmers’ Club. The results will determine the starting order for the main race on Saturday, 30 April when the flag will drop for the leading vehicle at 08:00.
The race on Saturday will consist of a Southern and Northern lap with each lap approximately 80 kilometres and, accounting for one loop of the event. Starting on the technical southern lap which primarily comprises sugarcane fields and a variety of technical areas, competitors will return via the Beaumont Eston Farmers’ Club, by passing the designated service park (DSP), to take on the taxing northern lap with fairly tight sugarcane fields which opens up into a magnificent valley area.

Following loop one, competitors will return to DSP at the Beaumont Eston Farmers’ Club for a compulsory 30 minute service halt, where teams and crews can attend to technical matters, replenish fuel and nutritional needs, before undertaking the two-lap figure of eight loop for the second time to complete a total race distance of approximately 370 kilometres over the two days.

The Team Hilux Rally-Raid Sugarbelt 400 also forms round three and four of the KZN Regional Championship and competitors will have to complete both the Southern and Northern laps twice on Saturday to score points towards their championship.

The Eston/Mid Illovo area has always produced a multifaceted, unique and stimulating race route and this year will be no different, however, the recent torrential rains in KZN could deliver some added challenges.

Be that as it may – the prospect of a sternly challenging route amidst sugarcane fields, a small plantation and valleys combined with the quality field of teams and vehicles that turned up for the first round of the season in Mpumalanga, will result in the Team Hilux Rally-Raid Sugarbelt 400, an event to be remembered for a long time.
Spectators are welcome, and the Beaumont Eston Farmers’ Club where Race Headquarter, the Designated Service Park (DSP) and Start/Finish will be situated, promises to be a hive of activity.

The event will be spectator friendly with various viewing points along the route. These vantage points are easily accessible from the Start/Finish at the club where a variety of tasty treats and beverages, provided by the local community, will be on offer during the weekend. Public access to these areas is free of charge.


Image: Andre Schoeman

Africa Race 2022: Yamaha Return to African Roots with New Ténéré World Raid Rally Program

Yamaha Motor Europe is pleased to announce that the all-new Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team will contest the Africa Eco Race, which will run from Monaco to the legendary finish in Dakar, Senegal from October 15 - 30.  
Yamaha has a long and storied history racing in Africa, starting in 1979 with victory for Cyril Neveu in the first ever running of the Paris Dakar Rally. Contesting the Africa Eco Race brings the brand full circle, returning them to the spiritual home of the Ténéré, and confirming the new approach, which focuses on reconnecting Yamaha's Rally program with the genuine spirit of adventure and with products that customers can also enjoy.
Yamaha's goal in approaching a 12 stage African rally with a production machine is to prove the exceptional DNA of the new Ténéré World Raid, but also to prepare an extensive customer program, which aims to support the racing spirit of Ténéré customers participating in national activities right up to international long distance Rally Raid events. Discovering your own limits, together with new horizons and people along the route, is the target of the Africa Eco Race challenge.
The new Rally program will also mark the start of a partnership with Riders for Health, a very special sponsor that Yamaha is proud to host on the Ténéré World Raid Team to raise awareness of the tremendous work carried out by the charity supplying, managing and maintaining motorcycles for health-focused operations in Africa. 
The Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team will be run on behalf of Yamaha by Rebel X Sports under the direction of Team Manager, and experienced Rally Raid campaigner, Manuel Lucchese. Italian Alessandro Botturi, winner of the previous two editions of the race, and Spaniard Pol Tarres will contest the 14th edition of the rally aboard a race version of the recently launched Ténéré 700 World Raid.
Botturi and Tarres will take on this unique challenge aboard bikes based on the newly launched Ténéré 700 World Raid but further developed by Yamaha with the addition of specialized GYTR parts, such as a larger fuel tank and KYB suspension, to better withstand the extreme demands of a competitive Rally Raid.
While the team and bike may be new, both riders have enjoyed impressive careers. Botturi comes into the 2022 Africa Eco Race having won the previous two editions in 2019 and 2020, while the 46-year-old Italian was also the International Six Day Trial champion in 2005 and 2007, competed in the World Enduro Championship and raced in numerous Dakar Rallies.
Botturi's teammate Tarres followed a similar path, riding trials before moving up to the World Enduro Championship. The 27-year-old Spaniard is famous for taking on some of the toughest enduro challenges in the world aboard his Yamaha Ténéré 700, and also for his gravity-defying “Seeker" videos on YouTube.
The Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team will prepare for the AER by taking part in the Tunisian Desert Challenge between the 21st and 29th April, which comprises eight stages and covers over 2,700km. It is the first important step in preparing the bikes and riders ready to take on the challenge of the Africa Eco Race later in the year.
Paolo Pavesio - Marketing and Motorsport Director, Yamaha Motor Europe - "Contesting the Africa Eco Race is an exciting new adventure for Yamaha, but it's also something of a return to the spiritual home of the Ténéré and to our Rally Raid roots. We believe that connecting with our customers is incredibly important, and with this new project and bike, we hope to inspire them to rediscover their more adventurous side. This is just the beginning of the journey; based on our experience this year we will grow the customer program ready for the 2023 season. We're also very happy to be teaming up with Riders for Health, using our participation in the rally to raise awareness of the incredible work they do in providing much needed medical support to rural communities in Africa using motorcycles as the primary form of transport. The presence of their logos on our bike and riders is just the first step in our collaboration."
Alessandro Botturi - Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team - “In a few weeks, we begin this great adventure with the Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team. I cannot wait to ride the new bike in Tunisia, and the goal is not only to finish the rally but to gain as much data and knowledge as possible to make us stronger. This is going to be an important year, with our ultimate goal of competing in the Africa Eco Race and reaching the mythical finish line by the Lac Rose in Dakar.”
 Pol Tarres - Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team - “I am very excited about this new adventure! I feel fortunate to be involved in this project, to have such a fantastic team around me and such an experienced teammate in Alessandro. Everyone is excited to take on the Africa Eco Race, and the Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid is the perfect machine to tackle such a challenging rally. We have been working a lot on the bike already, and it feels incredible. I am excited to head to Tunisia because it will be a great shakedown and training to get us ready for the challenge of the main event this year. I have a lot to learn, but I am determined to do my best and push as hard as I can to bring home the best result possible.”
Source Yamaha Motor Europe


SARRC 2022: The penta boys' incredible 100% finishing record

Intrepid Rally Raiders yet to falter in over 10,000 km of racing

The rough and tough recent Mpumalanga 400 once again proved to be a staunch test for many a crew, with a high attrition rate and a route strewn with stories of woe and broken-down rally raid race cars. Breaking down was however the furthest thing from racing driver Philip Botha’s mind. Not only did he successfully complete the event in his Red-Lined Penta VK56 Evo 2 but he went on to extend their unbroken finishing record beyond the incredible 10 000km mark since their first ever race back in August 2020.

This time driving alongside Riaan Greyling for the first time as his regular navigator Roelof Janse van Vuren was away on business, Botha went on to finish his 15th consecutive race. He has now completed an incredible 41 racing stages and racked up an astounding 10,300 kilometres of non-stop racing since his debut just 19 months ago.

“Rumour has it that we have broken all previous rally raid championship rookie finishing records,” Philip Botha admitted. “And it’s something we are hugely proud of as a team, but we’d never have done it if it weren’t for Terence Marsh and his wonderful Red-Lined team. “When we approached Terence just under two years ago, as rank amateurs who had never raced anything before, and told him that we wanted to race the Dakar in the future, he told us in no uncertain terms that to finish first we first have to learn to finish."

“So, we took his words to heart. “The next thing we were out testing a Red-Lined VK50 which we bought and began training and preparing for our first race. “Right from the beginning, we took baby steps, covering distance and acquiring experience, which was Terence’s strict brief. “We gradually upped the pace as we progressed and then we stepped up to a more sophisticated VK56 Evo 2, when the time was right. “And now we are not only regular finishers but have become more competitive amongst a world class field within the South African Rally Raid Championship."

“It's been an incredible adventure with a fantastic and dedicated team where we have developed from raw rookies into a reasonably competitive amateur racing team. “We remain focussed on our Dakar dream, but we now know that we can go there believing that we can do it.” And that record? “Well, we never set out to break any records and fully understand that it could all change tomorrow, but for now we are really proud of it. “It’s a pretty significant feat to have finished every time we have started in over 10 000 km of racing. “Thanks so much to Red-Lined Motorsport for helping make our dreams come true!”

“We are hugely proud of what Philip and Roelof have achieved,” Red-Lined Motorsport’s CEO Terence Marsh concluded. “We love the challenge of developing rookie crews, with minimal or no experience at all, to seasoned and competitive teams ready to participate anywhere in the world. “The Penta boys have been star students and have remained dedicated and focused on our strategy throughout their journey as the results so well prove. "Now we look forward to further adventures with them, and more importantly help them realise their dream of competing in the Dakar. “That's what it’s all about!"


Source Red-Lined Motorsport via Motorsport Media


© 2022 RallY-Raid Network. Developed by Helder Custodio