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16 June, 2012
Top teams enter Dakar Challenge
A string of top crews in the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race will be hoping that the Dakar Challenge, run conjunction with the 22 to 24 June race, will gain them free entry into the 2013 Dakar Rally.
Former South African off-road car racing champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst lead a string of high profile crews in what is going to develop into a race within a race. Crews from both the Production and Special Vehicle categories have entered the Dakar Challenge, and will clash head-to-head to win the free entry prize.
Visser and Badenhorst, the 2010 Production Vehicle champions, will be joined in the Challenge by Ford Racing team-mates Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable. Other notable SP Class entries include Thomas Rundle/Juan Mohr (Barden Nissan Navara), Deon Venter/Ian Palmer (Mega World Toyota Hilux), Gary Bertholdt/Siegfried Rousseau (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux), Christiaan du Plooy/Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS BMW) and Pikkie Labuschagne/Rikus Erasmus in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux.
Also among the Production Vehicle entries are reigning Class D champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen in the LMC Land Rover. There have also been entries from two Class E crews in championship leaders Dirk Putter/Koos Claasens (Elite Toyota Hilux) and Johan Griffioen/Willem Marais in the Force Toyota Hilux.
The Special Vehicle entries are led by Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson (Atlas Copco BAT), the father-and-son combination of Nick and Ryan Harper (Motorite Revo 4x4) and the husband-and-wife team of Marius and Jolinda Fourie in the PHB BAT. Ruwacon will also be represented by David and Gary White and Pieter Ruthven/Leander Pienaar, with Botswana driver Keith du Toit linking up with Lesotho co-driver Ashley Thorn in the White Star BAT. Two Class P crews have also taken the plunge along with Class B pair Johan Steyn and Saun van der Berg who have done most of their racing in the Northern Region championship. Class P newcomers Johan Wiese/Cois Mare, in a Raceco, and Ben Kruger/Etienne Nienaber, in a Jimco, will also take on some heavyweight opposition.
"The Dakar Challenge has added an extra dimension to the race," said South African
National Off Road Association chief executive Richard Schilling. "While entries from top crews were always to be expected, it
is nice to see some of the lesser known teams throwing their hats into the ring."
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