Ferdi de Vos
The event will start in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 3 2016 and finish in Rosario 13 days later after a loop of close on 9300km through Bolivia, a total of 556 competitors from 60 nationalities will participate in the 38th running of the race.
In terms of vehicles and personnel South Africa’s involvement in the 2016 Dakar is impressive.
SA’s Dakar competitors
SA manufactured race cars – a total of 16 Hilux V8’s, two Renault Dusters, two Ford Rangers, two Nissan Navaras and the two Century Racing buggies – make up nearly 25% of the entry list, while over hundred South Africans will play supportive roles on the Dakar.
Obviously 2009 Dakar champion Giniel de Villiers (#301, again paired with the German Dirk von Zitzewitz) in the locally built Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux V8 will be SA’s leading contender, supported by team mates Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie (#319).
Besides the Toyota Gazoo crews another twelve South Africans will participate including Mark Corbett/Juan Mohr (#346) and Colin Matthews/Rodney Burke (#378) in a pair of Century Racing CR5 buggies, and rookies Sean Reitz/Riaan Greyling (#375) in a Red-Lined Nissan Navara V8, supported by a team consisting exclusively of South Africans.
FLYING THE SA FLAG: Kobus Potgieter (KTM 450 RR) is the only South African entry in the bike category. Image: Supplied
In the quad category there are three Bidvest Yamaha Team Rhide SA entries for Dakar veteran Brian Baragwanath (#274), Eddie Barbier (#275) and new SA champion George Twigge (#276), while Sean Berriman will be a racing crew member aboard a MAN in the truck category.
In the bike category the only SA entrant is Kobus Potgieter (KTM 450 RR, #125), but Wessel Bosman (KTM, #130), an ex-SA 110m hurdles champion who participated this year but didn’t finish, entered the 2016 rally under Lesotho colours – making him the first ever resident from the mountain kingdom to participate in the prestigious rally.