A total of 14 South Africans will be competing at next year’s Dakar, due to kick off on January 2 in Rosario, Argentina, when a short 10km prologue route to determine starting positions gets underway.
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The next day, a field of 354 vehicles comprising 143 bikes, 110 cars, 55 trucks and 46 quads, will set off on the first of 13 race stages – a 662km flat section (632km for bikes and quads) leading up to the Andes mountains.
After a gruelling 9000km, the lucky ones will return to where they started to cross the finish line thirteen days later.
NEW ROUTE TO BENEFIT HILUX
Following a decision from Peru to withdraw as a host country, next year’s Dakar route will loop up from Argentina and into Bolivia only. While the number of stages and total race distance remains unchanged, the nature of terrain is slightly different to that of previous Dakar races which have been held in South America since 2009.
Organisers say the first three days will feature more technical tracks and less sandy dunes than this year’s race – and this should be beneficial to the South African Toyota team, now known as Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Though the Gazoo team is using completely new Hilux bakkies for the 2016 Dakar, they’re still powered by petrol V8 engines which in past events have suffered in deep sand against the torquier diesel-powered Minis that have won the past four Dakar Rallies. The Gazoo line-up is for the most part unchanged with South Africans Giniel de Villiers and Leeroy Poulter again on board as drivers.
Giniel will again be teamed up with German navigator Dirk Von Zitzewitz, while Leeroy will again partner with fellow South African Rob Howie. A third Midrand-built Gazoo Hilux will be crewed by Saudi driver Yazeed al Rajhi and German navigator Timo Gottschalk.
MORE SA TEAMS
Another all-South African team, Century Racing, has entered two rear-wheel-drive cars to be driven by Mark Corbett and Colin Mathews. Juan Mohr and Rodney Burke will be respective navigators in the locally-designed and built CR5 buggies, which use 7-litre V8 Chevy Corvette engines. A privately entered Nissan Navara will be driven by South Africans Basil Reitz and Riaan Greyling.
In the quad class Brian Baragwanath, Ted Barbier and George Twigge will all be atop Bidvest-sponsored Team Rhide Yamahas, and Kobus Potgieter will be SA’s lone biker riding a KTM. In the truck class our local competitor is Sean Berriman who will sit between two Belgian team-mates in a Daf truck.
Though not official SA entries, two Renault Dusters built by WCT Engineering in Kyalami, will also be competing, driven by Emi Spataro from Argentina and Christian Lavieille from France.
The Dakar Rally 2016 will be aired nightly on SuperSport channels for the duration of the race.
Original source: SA racers rev up for 2016 Dakar