Clean sweep for TGRSA in Upington

The 2022 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA 1000 Desert Race brought elation for the team, with all three podium positions going to TGRSA. Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy took overall honours, followed by Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle, in an identical Class T1+ Toyota Hilux. Shameer Variawa and Danie Stassen drove a steady race in fourth place, but overtook the crew ahead of them to clinch third overall near the end of the event.

“We are overjoyed with our results this weekend,” said TGRSA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, after the marathon event drew to a close on Sunday, 26 June 2022. “We couldn’t have asked for more from our crews, and we are elated with the points we scored on our home event.”

While three of the TGRSA crews achieved exceptional results, Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings fell foul to a corner that wasn’t indicated in the road book. The pair were the first car on the road in the qualifying race, but suffered significant damage to their Toyota Hilux when they made contact with large rocks, just beyond the corner.

“We were very unlucky,” said Lategan. “Many other crews also left the road at the same point, but we bore the brunt of the punishment. This put us on the back foot after qualifying, and things got worse in the first race loop of the day.”

The technical crew worked feverishly to repair Lategan/Cummings’ Hilux, and the pair were able to start the race under a penalty for failing to complete the Qualifying Race. Unfortunately, a damper on the front-right of the car came loose during the race, necessitating another halt for the defending champions.

“We managed to get the car repaired and tackle the remainder of the event, but with the penalties we incurred, we were never in contention for a podium,” concluded Lategan.

The pair made significant inroads throughout the weekend, fighting back from the back of the field, only to make the decision to retire the car when they suffered a technical problem in their gearbox.

“Henk and Brett drove extremely well, and we used the opportunity to test some setups and components for our Dakar programme,” said Hall. “But when the gearbox started acting up, we elected to retire the Hilux, rather than cause more damage.”

De Villiers/Murphy kept it clean throughout the 1,000 km-long race, setting the joint-fastest time in qualifying. They were matched by Botterill/Vacy-Lyle, who also had a clean run over the course of the iconic event.

Variawa and Stassen suffered a puncture in qualifying, but drove a steady, attacking race over the course of the weekend. They looked set for a fourth-place finish, but managed to overtake the car ahead of them in the final parts of the race, completing a Toyota trifecta in the 2022 TGRSA 1000 Desert Race.

As a result of their achievements, together with strong results from the privateer Toyota Hilux crews, the Manufacturer’s Award went to Toyota – a stunning reward after a tough weekend of racing in the desert.

“To us, winning the Desert Race is a highlight in our continued quest to lead the way. While we race for more than sport, we revel in our triumphs, and achieving a clean sweep in the longest race of the year serves to underscore the reliability and  toughness of our Toyota Hilux,” said Toyota SA Motors’ Senior Vice-President for Sales and Marketing, Leon Theron, after the event.

With points-and-a-half on offer in the Desert, De Villiers’ win puts him right back in the title fight, after he failed to score significant points at the opening event of the year, the Mpumalanga 400.

The TGRSA 1000 Desert Race also played host to the Road to Dakar, which is a race-within-a-race open to privateer teams who have not competed at the Dakar Rally in the past. The prize for the Road to Dakar is free entry to the Dakar Rally, together with a cash prize of 8,000 euros. This year’s challenge was won by the French crew of Yannick and Valerie Panagiotis, driving a CR-6 buggy in Class T1.2.

Next up is the Bronkhorstspruit 400, which is set for mid-August 2022.