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It was a tough day at the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Safari 1000, the third round of the SA Rally-Raid Championship that is taking place at Thabazimbi this weekend 21, 22 and 23 June where the second day of this three-day event has seen Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings in their TGRSA Hilux IMT EVO cementing their lead at the front of the field as well as in the extremely competitive FIA Ultimate T1+ Class.

After the 14 kilometre Castrol Qualifying Race and 100 kilometre Stage One on Friday, teams had to take on Stages Two and Three on Saturday with a combined total of just under 400 kilometres for the day. Lategan/Cummings started the day as the leaders after posting the fastest time after both the qualifier and Stage One and despite having to open a closed gate on both the stages on Saturday, the team had a pretty uneventful day and opened a gap of just over eight minutes to Lance Woolridge/Kenny Gilbert (Neil Woolridge Motorsport NWM Ford Ranger T1+) who are in a solid second place after starting the day from fourth place and completing an enjoyable day in the Bushveld.

The intense battle between the first five teams continued for the best part of the five hours of racing and it was Giniel de Villiers/Elvéne Vonk (TGRSA Hilux IMT EVO) who rounded off the overall and Ultimate T1+ podium after suffering multiple flat tyres during the second half of the race.

It was yet another frustrating day for the 2023 desert race winners and defending champions, Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer in the second Neil Woolridge Motorsport NWM Ford Ranger T1+ who started the day in third place, but were crippled by a broken sideshaft. After attempting to continue in two wheel-drive, they decided to replace the sideshaft in the bush and with the time lost, the team dropped to 11th place, some 40 minutes behind the leaders.

Brian Baragwanath/Leonard Cremer (Century Racing CR7 Twin Turbo) had a trouble-free day and find themselves just off the podium in fourth place, 15 and a half minutes behind the leaders and just under two minutes behind De Villiers/Vonk. The Horn brothers, Johan and Werner (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid DKR Hilux T1+) worked themselves up from 12th place to round out the top five after a safe ride.

Also lost from the top five, are Guy Botterill/Dennis Murphy (TGRSA Hilux IMT EVO) who hit a ditch and broke three dampers close to the end of stage four, that dropped them to the 24th place from 26 vehicles who managed to make it to the finish. Their team-mates, Saood Variawa/Francois Cazalet did, however, not reach the finish but are both unscathed after a narrow escape when they went off the road on a high speed corner.

The rest of the top ten includes two teams who are fighting for the Adventurer T1 laurels. Eben Basson/Leander Pienaar (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid Toyota T1) kept their lead in the class despite brake pump issues and losing time with two punctures in the second half of the race. They are currently sixth overall while the Heinlein’s, Gerhard and Rudi (Red-Lined VK 56 Evo2) had a clean run and are 10th overall, trailing the class leaders by just under eight minutes.

It was a good day for the Blignaut brothers, Fouché and Bertus (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid Hilux IMT EVO) who dropped one place to seventh overall with Wors Prinsloo/André Vermeulen (Neil Woolridge Motorsport NWM Ford Ranger T1+) in eighth and the Dutch couple, Dave and Tessa Klaassen (Red-Lined REVO T1+ GTR) ninth after an enjoyable day on African soil.

A blanket of 10 minutes covers the teams from sixth to 13th place and the current standings might look totally different at the end of the marathon event. Just outside the top 10, Johan and Sean van Staden (Renault Duster) are 12th and on the third step of the Adventurer T1 podium, still within striking distance of their competition. They will have to keep a close eye on Johan de Bruyn/Adriaan Roets (Red-Lined REVO T1) who will be chasing from their 13th place overall with a mere 14 seconds separating the two teams.

Another Red-Lined Motorsport team, the young Dutch driver, Pim Klaassen and Rikus Hattingh (REVO T1+) are 14th followed by yet another Dutch team, Rik van den Brink/Gydo Heimans who are enjoying their second race in the Century Racing CR7 Twin Turbo. Six Century Racing vehicles reached the halfway mark of the TGRSA Safari 1000 of which Eugene Bierman/Marius Lombard (Farmers Meat CR6) are also in the top 20 and in 17th place while their team-mates, Lood du Preez/Juandré Kruger (CR6) are 21st; William Battershill/Gary Campbell (CR6) are 22nd and Mark Corbett/Juan Möhr (CR6 Twin Turbo) are 23rd.

Two more Red-Lined Motorsport teams were also in the top 20. Rients Hofstra/Wade Harris (Red-Lined REVO T1+ GTR) had to fix a broken steering rack in the bush and are 16th while Philip Botha/Gerhard Schutte (VK56) are 18th. Jürgen Schröder/Rikus Fourie (Nissan Navara VK56) had to work hard struggling without power steering and were 19th with the winner of the SSV Class, Geoff Minnitt/Rodney Burke (Hydro Power Equipment Can-Am Maverick) finishing 20th overall. Ian and Werner Mostert (Moto-Netix Racing Can-Am Maverick) could not complete the race.

Between the teams to fall foul of bad luck are Chris Visser/Albertus Venter (Red-Lined REVO T1+ GTR) who suffered a broken rear differential early in the race that forced them to return to the pits to have it replaced. The team will have to fight their way back from the back of the field on the last day. And after not being able to complete the first day, Daniël Schroder/Ryan Bland (WCT Amarok) made it to the finish of the second day albeit being the second last team on the results.

On Sunday, Stages Four and Five of 187 kilometres each await competitors on the third and final day of the TGRSA Safari 1000. The racing action will get underway with a ceremonial start at 07:30 from the Koedoeskop Laerskool where the Designated Service Point as well as the finish is situated while it is also the venue for the podium ceremonies at the end of the race.

The TGRSA Safari 1000 can be followed on the RallySafe App, available as a free download from the iStore and Google PlayStore or on Facebook:;
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Published by: SA Rally- Raid Championship (Charmaine Fortune)

Photography by: Dave Ledbitter

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