The 2019 Road to Dakar, which was again supported by Toyota SA Motors, saw the Namibian crew of Jaco van Dyk and navigator Michel Rust take the honours, in their Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan Navara. The pair were locked in a tight tussle for the win with teammates Schalk Burger and Elvene Vonk, in an identical car, but prevailed to ensure free entry to the 2021 Dakar Rally.
This race-within-a-race has been part of the South African Cross Country Series’ (SACCS) Toyota 1000 Desert Race in the past, and this year saw nine crews enter the Road to Dakar, for a chance to win a free entry to the Dakar Rally, widely accepted as the world’s toughest automotive race.
Charles Cuypers, Director of Competitor Relations for the Dakar Rally at the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), the company behind the annual Dakar Rally, was in Botswana for this year’s desert race, and was impressed with the event: “The quality of the organisation is excellent, and the many thousands of spectators really add to the atmosphere of the race. But more than that, the quality of the competitors is really very good, and we’re looking forward to hosting Jaco and Michael at the Dakar Rally in 2021.”
This year’s Toyota 1000 Desert Race (TDR 1000) took place on 21-23 June, in a new location around the town of Selebi-Phikwe in eastern Botswana. Despite the move to a new area, the race retained its key characteristics as the only marathon event on the South African Cross Country calendar: The race distance was 1,000 km; and the race took place over a total of three days.
In the end it was Atlas Copco’s Chris Visser and navigator Phillip Herselman who took the overall honours, in their Class FIA Toyota Hilux. The pair found themselves in a three-way tussle for pole position during Friday’s qualifying race, but steadily increased their lead over the chasing pack during the weekend.
Despite Visser’s overall victory, the man with the biggest smile after this year’s Desert Race may just be Jaco “Chucky” van Dyk. “Winning the Road to Dakar is a dream come true for me, as taking part in the Dakar Rally has long been on my bucket list,” said the man from Grootfontein in northern Namibia.
He follows in the footsteps of Treasury One’s Hennie de Klerk who won a free entry to the Dakar Rally, when he was the first of the registered Dakar Challengers (as the Road to Dakar was called then) to cross the line in Botswana, back in 2017. The Pretoria-based businessman did South Africa proud when he and navigator Gerhard Schutte not only completed the Dakar, but also won the Rookie of the Year Award in their SA-built Volkswagen Amarok.
The 2018 winners, Red-Lined Motorsport’s Terence Marsh and navigator Riaan Greyling will be entering the 2020 race in Saudi Arabia.
This year, the Road to Dakar was open to all privateers, who haven’t previously taken part in the Dakar Rally. The winning competitor can choose to enter the next Dakar or the following one, effectively giving them a maximum of 18 months to prepare for the race.