Three days of Tara Rally

The well-known Tara Rally is set to bring the best of the best together to vie for the Tara trophy, which to many, if not all rally drivers, is the most sought after trophy – hence the saying in rally circles that one does not win the Tara, you conquer the Tara.

The preliminary entry list tallied at 16 entries, which includes an all women team.

The female team consists of Stefanie Botha, with Amanda Hugo as her navigator, driving a Subaru Impreza in the S4 class.

Teams had until end of May to enter the 54th Tara Rally supported by M+Z Motors, Puma Energies and Windhoek Motor Club (WMC).

The Tara dates back to 1968, with the very first race taking place back in 1969 when driver Chris Liebenberg and Andre de Jager took the honours in a Renault Gordon.

Unlike today, the rally back then was more of an endurance rally and took place during the night.

Due to cars becoming more advanced and stages limited, due to urban and rural development, it was decided to host the race during the day for safety reasons.

However, this year the rally will take place over three days with the starting point at the Tony Rust Raceway outside Windhoek.

The event will start with two super special stages before calling it a day.

No races will take place after that.

The teams will depart early Friday morning to Rehoboth, where technical and extra long stages of 32 kilometers will be repeated.

Such distances can be draining due to the high speed, rough terrains and mental efforts.

There will be another technical stage behind a golf course.

This might be a technical stage for the rally teams, but it is spectator friendly.

“There is a new stage just behind the golf course at the copper mine, which is really technical, up and over the hills, narrowing places and very challenging,” says Derek Jacobs from the Namibian Motorsport Federation (NMSF).

The second day will end in the late afternoon back at the Tony Rust Raceway when the teams return to Windhoek in preparation for the third and final day.

No races will take place after the teams return from Rehoboth, Jacobs says.

Saturday morning all activities will take place in Windhoek.

The day will start with a short gravel stage before the next stage at the Eros Airport.

This stage is planned with a spectator friendly view point.

Elisenheim, just north of Windhoek, will see some spectacular stages, as spectators will have a clear view of almost the entire area.

Despite all the curves and turns, there are a few straight stretches where teams can unleash their cars’ power and speed for optimum performance.

The day will once again end at the Tony Rust raceway on Saturday afternoon, with the prize giving ceremony taking place at the WMC clubhouse.

There was a time that the Tara Rally drew international rally teams from as far as Zambia, Kenya and South Africa, as it was part of the Africa Championships.

Unfortunately, due to costs, this title slowly faded out of the Tara’s scopes.

Under normal circumstances, a team consists of a driver and navigator backed by a technical team whose task it is to service, repair and maintain the cars after completing a certain amount of stages.

The vehicles are under immense strain due to the terrain, speed and environment, hence vehicles need stops at service parks.

Safety is vital in any motorsport and all rally cars must comply with certain regulations, like safety and roll cages, 5-point safety harnesses, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, fire retardant driving suits and kill switches, to mention a few.

Rally cars are also equipped and fitted with special suspensions to handle the uneven terrain better at excessive speeds which can reach up to 200 km/h.

To ensure the playing field is level, there are different classes for the various vehicles, namely the S and CR classes that indicate sedan or the challenge (bakkie) class.

The S1 class allows cars with an engine capacity of up to a 1600cc, S2 are sedans with an engine capacity of 1601 to 2000cc engines, S3 class is cars with engines with 2001 to 3000cc, while S4 is fitted with 3l engines and above.

There are, however, other factors determining the class category if the vehicle has a turbo or a rotary engine, to mention a few.

The CR class consists only of two classes: the CR 1 and 2.

CR1 and CR2 refer to 2×4 and 4×4 vehicles, respectively.

The 2023 Tara champion, Wilro Dippenaar, and his navigator Carolyn Swan are back to defend their title.

Stiff competition is expected in the CR 2 class, as all entrants in this class are formidable teams, with the likes of Loic Bathfield and navigator Johan Steyn in their CR-6 Dakar specification car.

With Ruaan Viviers and navigator Cecil Koorts in a Renault Duster 5,0l V8, Rian Kritzinger and MP Pretorius in their Ford Ranger 5,0l, Jeandre Dippenaar and Gillie Visser in their powerful Toyota Hilux and Werner Bartsch and Christel Fourie in their Ford Courier, a top notch rally is guaranteed.

In the S4 class, a fierce battle can be expected between Allan Martin and Maretha Olivier and defending champion Dippenaar and Swan.

The rally will start tomorrow.

The entire rally consists of 18 stages, with special stages included, stretching over just under 180 kilometers,with the liaison distance bringing the total to around 500km.

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