Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa (TGRSA) kicked off the 2024 South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) with an impressive start, securing the top two spots at the inaugural event in Malalane, Mpumalanga. Leading the charge was the duo of Giniel de Villiers and his co-driver Elvene Vonk, who claimed victory while their teammates Guy Botterill and Dennis Murphy took a close second place.

The event, dubbed the Nkomazi400, saw TGRSA’s four teams compete in the advanced GR Hilux EVO vehicles, representing the pinnacle of rally-raid technology. The weekend began with a spirited 11km Qualifying Race that set the stage for the intense competition to follow. Despite only covering a short distance, it was crucial for determining the race order, with TGRSA’s Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings nearly clinching the top start position.

The main race unfolded over several stages, with initial challenges placing some of TGRSA’s teams in less than ideal starting positions. However, resilience and skill shone through as the race progressed. Lategan and Cummings initially led the field but encountered a critical setback when their vehicle was damaged in a collision, forcing them to retire. This mishap allowed De Villiers and Vonk to make a remarkable comeback from an earlier 10th place, aided by their quick response in helping teammates Variawa and Cazalet, who also faced difficulties on the course.

By the final loop, De Villiers and Vonk surged ahead to finish with the best overall time of 6 hours, 21 minutes, and 12 seconds. Close behind, Botterill and Murphy also demonstrated their prowess, finishing just 45 seconds behind, solidifying TGRSA’s dominance at the event.

The team’s efforts were further recognized as Toyota clinched the Manufacturer Award, with strong performances throughout the team, including notable finishes from other #TeamHilux members Johan and Werner Horn, and Fouché and Bertus Blignaut.

Looking ahead, TGRSA aims to maintain their momentum at the upcoming Vryheid 400 in late May, promising another thrilling chapter in the 2024 SARRC season.