The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA (TGRSA) squad is primed to take on the season-closing double-header in the Free State town of Parys this weekend. The final two rounds of the 2022 South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) is scheduled for 11 and 12 November, with each day offering a full round of the national championship, with the associated points on offer.
For Henk Lategan and co-driver Brett Cummings, the weekend offers the opportunity to seal their fourth SARRC title, as they hold a three-point lead over teammates Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy in the overall Production Category. De Villiers, however, is a fierce competitor and is sure to make Lategan work hard for the points he needs to clinch the championship. To make matters more interesting, however, Murphy will be unable to compete in Parys due to a broken arm. Seasoned co-driver Rodney Burke will be strapping into his seat for the weekend, adding pressure to De Villiers in his quest to regain the SARRC crown.
Behind the two hard-charging Class T1+ Toyota Hilux crews come two more crews from the same squad, driving identical cars. Shameer Variawa and co-driver Danie Stassen are 30 points adrift of De Villiers/Murphy, and only three points ahead of Guy Botterill and co-driver Simon Vacy-Lyle with two rounds to go. While it is unlikely that either Variawa or Botterill will overtake the crews ahead of them, anything can still happen, and with a maximum of 60 points on offer between the final two rounds, neither of the two chasing crews will be holding anything in reserve this weekend.
“This has been a stunning season for us,” says TGRSA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “Our Class T1+ Hilux has dominated all year, clearly showing why this machine is tough enough to not only compete at the Dakar Rally, but also to have won it twice now.”
With this in mind, the team will be using the weekend’s Parys 400, as the double-header is known, to test a number of final engine upgrades and other components, as they prepare for the upcoming Dakar Rally in January, 2023. An identical Hilux, in the hands of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel won the inaugural World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) this year, and the mileage recorded during that championship, as well as the SARRC, may well prove to be invaluable in the development of the latest iteration of the GR DKR Hilux T1+ as the car is also known.
This weekend’s race is likely to take place in wet and muddy conditions, though no heavy rains are predicted over the weekend itself. Even so, the muddy tracks around the town of Parys has proven tough in the past, and the TGRSA crews will have their work cut out for them, with two full races taking place in just two days. This includes a prologue, to determine the starting orders for the main race, on both mornings – followed by two long race loops that brings the total daily race distance close to the 400 km mark.
The action gets under way at 07:30 on Friday morning, when the crews take on a 12 km-long qualifying race. This will be followed by two loops of 155 km each, starting at 9:30. The crews will then have to repair and recuperate, as they’ll be doing it all again the next day, making for a tough finish to a long season. Fans can visit the race and its HQ at the Parys Airfield free of charge, or follow the action on the Rally Safe application, which is available for both iOS and Android devices.
Source Toyota Gazoo Racing SA