Dust, stones and revs dominate 54th Tara

MACHINE … The powerful CR-6 left plenty biting the dust. Photos: Francois Lottering

Last year’s Tara rally winner, Wilro Dippenaar, and his navigator once again made their mark during this year’s 54th Tara rally in Windhoek this past weekend.

The Tara is seen as the biggest of all local rallies, with this year’s edition seeing 16 entries.

One entrant was from South Africa.

The rally was in the past part of the Africa rally championships, with entrants from as far as Kenya, Zambia and South Africa, but due to cost implications, foreign entries have been from South Africa only.

The race covered a total distance of around 500km, of which around 200km consisted of 18 special stages in sand, on tar and across even rocky surfaces and loose gravel.

The event started on Thursday evening with the super special stage event.

This item sees two cars in the same class racing against each other.

Alhough the two stages were around 8,34km, it remains intense due to the tarred and gravel surfaces.

Rally cars’ tyres are not suited for solid surfaces, but rather gravel and sand.

The Rehoboth stages were raced on Friday, with eight stages. One stage, called ‘The Donkey Pad’, stretching over just under 5km, was cancelled due to the soft and sandy surges that could have been hazardous to the drivers.

Sadly, it was during these stages that that three of the top contenders experienced technical issues and had to withdraw.

Ruaan Viviers and Cecil Koortz, Rian Kritzinger and MP Pretorius and Ewald and Hein Bisschoff had no choice but to load their cars onto trailers back to Windhoek.

Many spectators flocked to the service park for repairs, maintenance and servicing to meet the drivers up close and personal.

On the last day of the rally most drivers pulled out all the stops to add their names to the elite few that started and finished the Tara rally.

Saturday’s activities started at the Tony Rust Raceway. This time around the teams had to face some strong winds and extra dusty conditions.

It was most likely the four stages at Elisenheim north of Windhoek that offered spectators the best views and action, since it had long straits, tight corners and technical routes amid uneven terrain lined with trees and vegetation.

The first cars arrived at the Tony Rust Raceway, where technical teams awaited them for a last service park before entering the stacks again for the last stage.

Defending champion team Dippenaar in a well-prepared Fiesta R5 (S4 class ) finished the Tara in a time of 1:55.34, followed by Alan Martin and Maretha Olivier in a Skoda R5 (S4 Class) in a time of 2:03.41.

After the rally Dippenaar said it was a good one.

“It was hard, the roads were tough, but it was nice,” he said.

Runner-up Martin afterwards said: “It was amazing, but it was tough. I have not raced for more than eight months and let me tell you you lose your touch.”

In the CR 2 (challenge or bakkie class ) it was Loic Bathfield and Johan Steyn in their Century Racing CR-6 vehicle that needed only 1:54.03 to end in first place, with Jandré Dippenaar and Gielie Visser in their Toyota Hilux rally spec bakkie that took second place with a time of 1:59.34.

ACTION … Spectators saw more than enough action during the 54th Tara Rally over the weekend.

For Bathfield it was fun as always. He credited his navigator, Johan Steyn, for his role throughout the race.

Navigators have the mammoth task to brief drivers on the road and any obstruction or potential danger throughout the race

Dippenaar afterwards said the rally was well planned.

He said Bathfield is fast and his car was also well prepared.

“We tried our best, but could never catch up with him,” Dippenaar said.

The 54th Tara rally was made possible with the help of sponsors and partners Puma Energy, M+Z Motors, Savanna Car Hire, Van Dyk Petroleum, Sirkel Motors, CDC Solution CC, Super Tyres, African Gas Solutions, Motor Media Namibia and Kosmos 94.1.

The results are as follows:

Class S4: First place, Dippenaar and Swan and second place, Martin and Oliver.

S2 Class: Zachary Martin and Anique Schoeman in first place, followed by Wido Bartsch and Raymond Fourie.

S1 Class: Pieter Greeff and JP Robinson

Super Rally Class: Paul van Wyk and Matt Hohler from South Africa took the honours.

CR 2 Class: Bathfield and Steyn in first place, with Dippenaar and Visser in second place and Werner Bartsch and Christel Fourie in third place.

CR 1: Ekko Eisenberg and Rassie Rietz in firsts place, followed by Chriszelda Engels (the only woman driver) with navigator Ruan de Lange in second place and Willie Schoeman and Chané Havenga in third place.

Out of 16 initial entries only four vehicles did not complete the rally.

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