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HomeSportsVryheid 400 2024: Victory at last for Lategan & Cummings at an...

Vryheid 400 2024: Victory at last for Lategan & Cummings at an extremely tough PS Laser Promac Vryheid 400 that took it toll on SA Rally-Raid Competitors

Rocky mountains; fast and twisty tracks; dust, dust and more dust – just a few words describing the PS Laser ProMac Vryheid 400, the second round of the SA Rally-Raid Championship that took place at Vryheid in KwaZulu-Natal this weekend and after the dust had settled, it was the former multiple champions, Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings (Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux IMT EVO) who claimed their first victory since last winning in August 2023.

It was a level playing field for the teams who visited Vryheid for the first time and the extremely tough and testing route took its toll on competitors and their vehicles. The challenge started on Friday, 24 May with the short 15 kilometre Castrol Qualifying Race followed by Stage One, 38 kilometres, while teams then had to complete Stages Two and Three of 175 kilometres each on Saturday, 25 May for a total of just over 400 extremely demanding kilometres.

In the end, Lategan/Cummings, who finished the first day in sixth place, took the lead early in Stage Two and did not look back to earn the laurels as the first victors of the inaugural PS Laser ProMac Vryheid 400. The team had a fairly clean race and were delighted to be on the top step of the podium again.
It was a good event for the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) team who owned the overall and the FIA Ultimate T1+ podiums with Lategan/Cummings (06:43:01) completing the race five minutes and 42 seconds ahead of their team-mates, Guy Botterill/Dennis Murphy who were leading after the first day.

Botterill/Murphy (06:48:44), who had the arduous task of opening the road on the final day after posting the fastest combined times on Friday, were again six minutes and 59 seconds ahead of Giniel de Villiers/Elvéne Vonk (06:55:43) who started the second day in ninth place and battled with the dust of competitors ahead of them. They also had to fend off a charging Lance Woolridge/Kenny Gilbert (Neil Woolridge Motorsport Ford NWM Ranger T1+) who started the day in second place behind their team-mates, Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer. It was a tough day for both the Ford Ranger crews and Woolridge/Gilbert eventually finished a mere 10 seconds off the podium after experiencing frustrating brake issues.

Gareth/Dreyer (07:18:46) also lost time due to brake problems and then had to fight their way through the dust. They were eighth overall as well as in the FIA Ultimate T1+ Class. Between the two Ford teams, Chris Visser/Albertus Venter brought their Red-Lined Motorsport REVO T1+ GTR home in fifth place overall and in FIA Ultimate T1+ after a relatively clean and cautious run (07:09:45) while Lance Trethewey/Vincent Crosbie (LT Earthmovers CR6) were the first two by four-wheel drive team to receive the chequered flag after a successful first outing this season. Their time (07:15:02) was only 13 seconds better than the Blignaut brothers, Fouché and Bertus who scored their first result with the new #TeamHilux Rally-Raid Toyota Hilux IMT EVO after having to claw their way back to seventh from starting the day in 20th position.

The Dutch driver, Rients Hofstra together with Wade Harris (Red-Lined Motorsport REVO T1+ GTR) were ninth (07:19:36) and were followed by, Johan de Bruyn/Adriaan Roets (REVO T1) who won the Adventurer T1 Class.

The final race day started on an interesting note for the top three teams in the Adventurer T1 Class as they all completed the first day with the exact same combined time. But while the defending champions, Eben Basson/Leander Pienaar (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid Toyota) were forced into retirement with severe rear suspension damage, the Heinleins, Gerhard and Rudi (Red-Lined VK56) romped home in 12th place overall and second in the class in a total time of 07:35:39. Their Red-Lined Motorsport team-mates, Philip Botha/Gerhard Schutte received a time penalty on Friday and started Stage Two on Saturday towards the back of the field, but they persevered to round off the Adventurer T1 podium and finished 16th overall (08:21:50).

The young Saood Variawa and his French navigator, Francois Cazalet (Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux IMT EVO) made a good start and were fifth fastest after the two racing sections on Friday, but they lost time on Saturday with a damaged suspension and finished just outside the top 10 in 11th place overall and 10th in the Ultimate T1+ Class (07:30:51).

Also in the top 15 were the Dutch duo of Rik van den Brink/Gydo Heimans who made their debut on South African soil with a clean run in the Century Racing CR7 Twin Turbo to finish 13th overall (07:36:00). They were followed by two more teams who scored points towards the overall championship – Wors Prinsloo/André Vermeulen (Neil Woolridge Motorsport NWM Ranger T1+) who finished 14th overall and the Horn brothers, Johan and Werner (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid DKR Hilux T1+) who were 15th. The team were the fourth team off the start line, but lost both driveshafts. They had to do problem solving in the bush and then lost more time ending up in a ditch just before the finish.

The Dutch couple, Dave Klaassen and Tessa Rooth (Red-Lined REVO T1+ GTR) were 21st overall and bagged points as the 14th team in the Ultimate T1+ finishers.

Two more teams managed to see out the distance in the Adventurer T1 Class with the German driver, Daniel Schröder and Ryan Bland (Nissan Navara VK50) finishing fourth in the class and 18th overall being plagued by electrical problems. Their team-mates, Jurgen Schröder/Stuart Gregory could not finish the race. The Van Stadens, Johan and son, Sean (Renault Duster) limped home in 19th overall losing time with a broken steering rack and having to cope without power steering.

There were new winners in the SSV Class with the young lady, Puck Klaassen together with Charl Swanepoel (Moto-Netix Racing Can-Am Maverick) taking the victory and finishing the race in 17th place overall. They shared the SSV podium with their newcomer team-mates, Ruperd Fourie/Morne van Rensburg albeit not finishing without problems and Geoff Minnitt/Rodney Burke (Hydro Power Equipment Can-Am Maverick) who also survived their share of mechanical issues at Vryheid.

Amongst those who could not complete the event, were Jayden Els/Henry Köhne (King Price Xtreme SVR) who were fourth fastest after the Castrol Qualifying Race on Friday, but then experienced suspension problems with power steering failure holding them back on the final day while Brian Baragwanath/Leonard Cremer (Century Racing CR7 Twin Turbo) were halted by a blown turbo.
Notwithstanding the extreme challenge, competitors were full of compliments for the organisers on a well-executed and well-run event.

Next up is the TGRSA Safari 1000 when teams will take to the Waterberg area on 21, 22 and 23 June for this three-day marathon event and round three of he SARRC.

Source: SARRC official press release

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