Tara Rally set for next month

The 54th edition of the renowned Tara Rally is set to take place over three days from 6 to 8 June.

The rally begins on Thursday, 6 June at the Tony Rust Raceway on the western outskirts of Windhoek. Additional stages are set at and around Rehoboth, where the organisers prepared a service park for crew to service, repair and prepare the cars for the next stages.

A total distance of 466 kilometres (km) will be covered, including 172km in special stages. Competitors will face 16 special stages and two super special stages. The super special stages are the biggest crowd pullers, as this is the only time two rally cars literally race against each other with a switch of the tracks, when one racer takes on the gravel and the other a tarred surface. The stage is designed so that both racers end at the finishing line at the same time.

Like any rally, there will be two classes – the S and CR class. The S class has four categories, ranging from S1 to S4, with two CR classes for bakkies/off-road cars. CR1 and CR 2 refer to 4×2 and 4×4, respectively.

The S class is classified as follows: S1 engines – up to 1 600cc, S2 – between 1 601cc and 2 000cc or two litre engines, S3 are engines between 2 001cc to 3 000cc, and S4 are engines of 3 000cc and above.

This classification ensures equal competition on the tracks.

Entries close on 31 May, while late entries are still permitted a day before the event starts. Top Revs has it on good faith that some top racers have their eyes on the trophy.

The history of the rally dates back to 1968, when Dennis Kemp and his Siamese cat named Tara were planning the route for the pioneers of the rally, when his cat accidentally walked through some ink, leaving its paw marks on the notes. This is how the name Tara was born.

Tara died in 1982, and its ashes are stored in the SPCA’s remembrance garden in Pretoria. But the cat’s legacy lives on in the popular rally.

It was known as the Total Tara for a long time, with the fuel giant being the sole sponsor for many years before changes in the rules of international sport saw Total part ways with the rally.

The first Tara winners in 1969 were Chris Liebenberg (driver) and Andre de Jager (navigator) in a Renault Gordini. No team has ever won the rally three years in a row, which remains the dream of many. The last time any team finished twice in a row was Japie van Niekerk and Gerhard Snyman from South Africa in 2013 and 2014.

Van Niekerk and navigator Robin Houghton finished in first place in 2016 and in 2015, Richard Slamet and Wietz Coetzee from Namibia took top honours.

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