TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa (TGRSA) continues to shine in the 2024 South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC), delivering an exceptional performance at the Vryheid 400, held from May 24-25 in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The team achieved a spectacular one-two-three finish, further solidifying their dominance in the championship.

Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings claimed the top spot, piloting their Toyota Hilux IMT EVO to victory with a final time of 6 hours, 43 minutes, and 1 second. Their teammates, Guy Botterill and Dennis Murphy, finished in second place, trailing by 5 minutes and 43 seconds. Completing the podium were Giniel de Villiers and Elvéne Vonk, who secured third place, finishing 12 minutes and 42 seconds behind the leaders.

The Vryheid 400 route, characterized by varied and demanding terrain including farmlands, rocky sections, and picturesque landscapes, provided a rigorous test of endurance for all competitors. Despite the tough conditions, TGRSA’s crews rose to the challenge, showcasing their exceptional skills and resilience.

Reflecting on the race, TGRSA Team Principal Shameer Variawa remarked, “We are thrilled with the results from the Vryheid 400. Our crews demonstrated remarkable skill and determination, navigating the challenging terrain with precision. The one-two-three finish is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire team.”

The event commenced with a 14km Castrol Qualifying Race on Friday, May 24, followed by the main race stages later that day and continuing into Saturday, May 25. The competitors faced a 40km stage on Friday afternoon, followed by a 175km route on Saturday, which included a stage in the morning, a 30-minute service break, and a repeat of the same stage in the afternoon.

Reflecting on their victory, Henk Lategan commented, “It was a challenging race, but we pushed hard and managed to secure the win. The team did an incredible job preparing the car, and we are thrilled with the result. This victory gives us great momentum as we look ahead to the next rounds.”

Saood Variawa and Francois Cazalet, the team’s fourth crew, showed promising performance during the qualifying race. However, on Saturday, they experienced a setback when they outbraked themselves and collided with a tree, bending one of the steering arms on their car. Despite losing significant time, they managed to finish the race, demonstrating maturity and tenacity despite the setback.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa now looks forward to the next event on the calendar, the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Safari 1000, Round 3 of the championship. This race, sponsored by the team, adds additional pressure to perform, and will take place on June 21-23, 2024, in the bushveld area around Thabazimbi in the Limpopo province. With two victories from the first two rounds, TGRSA is in a strong position early in the season and aims to maintain their momentum into Round 3 and beyond.

Vryheid 400 Final Standings:

PositionDriverCo-driverVehicleFinal Time / Gap1Henk LateganBrett CummingsToyota Hilux IMT EVO6:43:012Guy BotterillDennis MurphyToyota Hilux IMT EVO+5:433Giniel de VilliersElvéne VonkToyota Hilux IMT EVO+12:424Lance WoolridgeKenneth GilbertFord NWM Ranger T1++12:525Chris VisserAlbertus VenterRed-Lined REVO T1+ GTR+26:446Lance TretheweyVincent CrosbieCentury Racing CR6+31:017Fouché BlignautBertus BlignautToyota DKR Hilux T1++32:248Gareth WoolridgeBoyd DreyerFord NWM Ranger T1++35:459Rients HofstraWade HarrisRed-Lined REVO T1+ GTR+36:3510Johan de BruynAdriaan RoetsRed-Lined REVO T1+45:34