Waterberg welcomes TGRSA Safari 1000 with three days of exciting racing awaiting SA Rally-Raid competitors
Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (Neil Woolridge Motorsport Ford NWM Ranger T1+) - Image by : Dave Ledbitter

 The third round of the SA Rally-Raid Championship, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Safari 1000, takes place on 21, 22 and 23 June and where competitors travelled to Botswana or the Northern Cape in the past few years for this three-day event on the calendar, they will now travel to the Thabazimbi area in the Limpopo Province with all the action taking place from the Koedoeskop Primary School.

The TGRSA Safari 1000 will be a World Rally-Raid Championship candidate event for the 2025 season while it will also include the Road to Dakar Challenge for a small group of motorcycle competitors competing alongside the SARR brigade, with riders able to score valuable points towards an entry into the 2025 Dakar Rally, and the Road to Dakar Challenge for rookie Ultimate competitors to earn a free entry into the 2025 Dakar Rally. And with a total of more than 900 kilometres awaiting the teams and riders, spectators are in for three days of exhilarating action in the Bushveld.

With two rounds of the 2024 SARRC already done and dusted and with the foundation of points – or the lack thereof – on the scoreboard, intense battles can be expected in the challenge for the championship titles and relevant standings, with a healthy helping of points up for grabs.

Last year, Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (Neil Woolridge Motorsport Ford NWM Ranger T1+) won the 400 kilometre event here to clinch the championship title and the team would like nothing more than to do so again, as a good result will go a long way in getting their title defence on track. Together with team-mates, Lance Woolridge/Kenny Gilbert who finished second at the Waterberg event last year, will also be part of the chasing pack who will be looking to break the TGRSA winning streak so far this season.

Two TGRSA teams have already claimed the top spot on the podium with three TGRSA teams filling the leading three positions in the overall and FIA Ultimate T1+ standings. Giniel de Villiers/Elvéne Vonk (Toyota Hilux IMT EVO) are the current leaders closely followed by Guy Botterill/Dennis Murphy who were the runners-up twice this year with Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings in third after winning the most recent event. These teams will no doubt feel the heat from the rest of the field while their team-mates, also competing with the Toyota Hilux IMT EVO, the young Saood Variawa and his French navigator, Francois Cazalet will hope for their luck to turn after a somewhat shaky start to the season.

And while Wors Prinsloo/André Vermeulen’s Ford NWM Ranger T1+ will bolster the Ford entries, the class will be stacked with three more Toyota vehicles among the rest. The two pairs of siblings in the #TeamHilux Rally-Raid Toyota DKR T1+, Johan and Werner Horn and Fouché/Bertus Blignaut had their ups and downs, but managed to bag points after each event while Gary Bertholdt will be behind the wheel of his DKR Hilux T1+ for the first time this season with Danie Stassen reading the notes.

Chris Visser/Albertus Venter (Red-Lined REVO T1+ GTR) have been performing consistently and a podium result will be a just reward while it will keep them in the top five. The Red-Lined Motorsport camp will be brimming with three more familiar teams in Ultimate T1+, all with an international flavour. The Dutch pairing of Dave Klaassen/Tessa Rooth as well as another Dutch driver, Rients Hofstra and Wade Harris will again be on the line with similar REVO T1+ GTR’s while young Pim Klaasen, also from the Netherlands and Rikus Hattingh will be out in their REVO T1+.

It will also be busy in the Century Racing camp with no less than six vehicles taking on the TGRSA Safari 1000. Among these teams, only the Dutch duo, Rik van den Brink/Gydo Heimans (CR7 Twin Turbo) and Eugene Bierman/Marius Lombard (Farmers Meat CR6) are currently inside the points. Amongst the rest will be the winners of the 2021 TGRSA 1000 Desert Race in Upington, Brian Baragwanath/Leonard Cremer (CR7 Twin Turbo) who will hope to add a second marathon race victory to their record.

Jayden Els/Henry Köhne (King Price Xtreme SVR) have shown that they have the potential to compete at the front while the German driver, Daniel Schröder (navigator to be announced) has moved from the Adventurer T1 Class to the Ultimate T1+ Class and will compete with a WCT Amarok.
A total of 23 teams have entered in the extremely competitive Ultimate T1+ Class.

Looking at the Adventurer T1 Class, two teams have already won this season and it is anyone's guess who will be the victors at the TGRSA Safari 1000. A team who are, however, still looking for their first set of points, are defending champions, Eben Basson/Leander Pienaar (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid Toyota Hilux T1) and a win at Waterberg will go a long way to get their championship off the ground.

Johan de Bruyn/Adriaan Roets (Red-Lined REVO T1) are leading the class and a second victory will strengthen their situation. And with second-placed Schröder (and his regular navigator, Ryan Bland) not competing in this class, the Heinlein family, Gerhard and Rudi (Red-Lined VK56 Evo2), can chase for the lead. The rest of the teams might be somewhat further back on points, but good results for them, can throw a spanner in the works for the leading teams.

Johan and his son, Sean van Staden (Renault Duster) will put their many years of experience to good use while Philip Botha/Roelof Janse van Vuren (Red-Lined VK56) and Jϋrgen Schröder (navigator to be announced) in the Nissan Navara VK50 as well as SARRC newcomers, Ignus and Gerhard du Plessis (Toyota Hilux) will all be aiming to receive the chequered flag after three days of racing.

In the SSV Class, experience and a little bit of luck will play important roles in the results. Class leaders Geoff Minnitt/Rodney Burke (Hydro Power Equipment Can-Am Maverick) will have to stay ahead of Ian Mostert and his father, Werner in the navigator seat who will be racing together for the first time this season.

The racing action starts on Friday, 21 June at 9:30 when teams take on the 14 kilometres Castrol Qualifying Race that will determine the starting order for Stage One, a 100 kilometre section that will commence at 12:45. The results of the first day will serve as the order in which the teams will take on Stage Two at 08:00 on Saturday, 22 June. Stage Two will consist of 189 kilometres that teams will then repeat as Stage Three. On Sunday, 23 June the leading team will depart at 07:30 on Stage Four, a 187 kilometre section to be repeated as Stage 5, the final leg of the event.

Route maps for each day will be available on https://www.facebook.com/sarallyraidchampionship, https://www.sacrosscountryracing.co.za/ and Telegram. Race Headquarters will be situated at the Koedoeskop Primary School and will also serve as the venue for the Designated Service Point as well as the Start/Finish of the event while the podium ceremonies will also take place at the school.