Flying Baragwanath and Cremer win TGRSA 1000 Desert Race at Upington
The TGRSA 1000 Desert Race formed the third round of the 2021 South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) and is the only marathon event on the calendar. The race started on Friday with a 105-kilometer Pirelli qualifying race which determined the starting order for Saturday’s race section with the combined results of the first two days used for Sunday’s positioning.
A total of 43 teams took to the start of the TGRSA 1000 Desert Race which replaced the historic Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, which could not be hosted in Botswana this year due to the pandemic. The teams were scheduled to complete the TGRSA 1000 Desert Race north loop twice on Saturday and a separate loop south of Upington twice on Sunday. It was a difficult and most enjoyable route that included lots of sandy sections as well as rocky parts and even mini dunes.
After three difficult days of racing and a fierce duel with Henk Lategan / Brett Cummings (TGRSA Toyota Hilux) the last two days, it was Baragwanath and Cremer who brought their Century Racing CR6 two-wheel drive home in a total time of 11 hours, 27 minutes and 30 seconds to win the production vehicle category as well as the FIA class. The winners started the final day just 22 seconds behind the defending champions and with another clean run – they only had one puncture on the final day – a dream came true and they took the win.
The head in the front changed hands a few times and after a total of three punctured tires on the last day along with a broken rear driveshaft which forced Lategan / Cummings to push the new Hilux 3.5 turbocharged V6 liters of gasoline as strong as in three-wheel drive, the team had to settle for second place, just three minutes and 16 seconds behind the winners after more than 11 and a half hours of racing.
The production vehicle category and the FIA class podium were completed by Lance Woolridge / Elvéne Vonk (Ford Castrol Cross Country Ranger) (11:36:49) who had a good race with only one puncture the last day. They were tied in a battle with Giniel de Villiers / Dennis Murphy (TGRSA Hilux) who also lost time with three punctures as they got frustratedly stuck on a mound and wasted more time to finally finish. the race for fifth place in the general classification and in the FIA class. .
Only eight seconds separated De Villiers / Murphy from Chris Visser / Albertus Venter (Toyota Hilux) who went from sixth place to fourth place in the general classification and in the FIA category, after another good day enjoying the racing conditions in the desert.
De Villiers / Murphy were followed by their teammates, Shameer Variawa / Danie Stassen, who finished sixth in the general classification and sixth in the FIA category, and Conrad Rautenbach / Riaan Greyling (Red-Lined Motorsport VK56) who finished their marathon race. in Northern Cape in seventh place. Multiple national rally champions Guy Botterill / Simon Vacy-Lyle brought fourth TGRSA Hilux down to eighth place overall in the production vehicle category and in the FIA class after three days of testing which included a total of 14 flat tires.
Starting at the bottom of the peloton on Saturday due to a time penalty after the Pirelli qualifying race on Friday, Eben Basson / Gerhard Schutte (Red-Lined Motorsport VK56) found themselves 13th in the category at halfway. Basson, who competed in his very first desert marathon race, and Schutte eventually finished ninth overall and in the FIA class. They have also won the Road the Dakar Challenge and free entry to the Dakar Rally, and plan to participate in this event in 2023.
After winning the Pirelli qualifying race on Friday, some insignificant problems lost time and positions for Gareth Woolridge / Boyd Dreyer (Ford Castrol Cross Country Ranger). They finally finished seventh in the general classification as well as in the FIA category at the halfway point on Saturday, but having to repair a problematic driving belt eight kilometers before the final finish cost them precious time and they managed to finish 10th ( 12:54:32).
Five other FIA class teams completed the grueling TGRSA 1000 Desert Race and won points for the various championships. Dewald van Breda / Johann du Toit (CR5) finished 11th in the category with just four seconds separating them from Johan van Staden and his son, Sean (Moto-Netix KEC Racing Renault), who experienced steering problems during the most of the final. day when the power steering rack broke at the start of the race. They also got lost and stuck, but persevered to finish 12th in the FIA class.
The Red-Lined Motorsport team returned from the event with another 100% finish rate, but with some disappointment. Ernest Roberts / Henry Köhne (VK56) started the last day in the top 10 and with a good lead in the Road to Dakar Challenge, but 38 kilometers before the finish, a failure of the left driveshaft cost them a lot of time, which knocked them down the leader board to finally finish 13th in the class. Their teammates and newcomers Philip Botha / Roelof Janse van Vuren (VK50) returned home with another finish and points in the bag.
Jason Venter / Jaco van Aardt (4 × 4 Mega World ARB Toyota Hilux) will have a lot of stories to share after their experience in the TGRSA 1000 Desert Race, but they finished and finished 15th in the FIA category.
The T-Class Championship was turned upside down on the third and final day of the race when three Ford Ranger teams under the aegis of Neil Woolridge Motorsport took the podium. Malcolm Kock and his son Frans were second in the category behind leaders Johan Horn / Leander Pienaar (Malalane Toyota Hilux), after Friday and again halfway on Saturday. The leaders then ran into trouble in the final section of the race on Sunday, opening the door for the father-son team to claim their first class victory of the season (12:32:26) after a tough but enjoyable race. .
Their teammates, Bernard Johnstone / Jan Harm Hugo, finished second after a steady race with Wors Prinsloo / André Vermeulen, who could not complete the qualifying race and had to start from the back of the field, completing the podium. Dylan Venter / Vince van Allemann (4 × 4 Mega World ARB Toyota Hilux) finished fourth in the T-class after an eventful race with a lot of drama and lessons learned.
Both S-Class teams completed the TGRSA 1000 Desert Race with Jannie Visser and his son Chris winning the class with their Toyota Hilux despite two punctures on the final day. Another father-son pair, Piet and Benjamin Kotze, struggled with overheating throughout the race, but finished just behind Team Visser in their Toyota Hilux.
The first Toyota Gazoo Racing SA 1000 Marathon Desert Race was appreciated by all the competitors who had nothing but compliments on the course and the organization. Competing in Botswana is special for everyone, but competing in the desert conditions of the Northern Cape was a first for all and a great event was experienced by all.
Photos: Nadia Jordaan