Namibia is a country of extremes: the harsh environment does not deter the beautiful flora and fauna that is ever-present despite the weather highs and lows. Sandstorms, high humidity and icy evenings are contrasted with the green zones, cool ocean and towering sand dunes. For motorsport enthusiasts, this country boasts a testing and tricky event that attracts entries from its neighbouring countries determined to outpace the Namibian rally competitors and pit themselves against the elements.
The Total Tara Rally 2011 marks its 43rd edition this year, with its illustrious history dating from 1969. Namibian motorsport icon Dennis Kent created the Tara Rally to add spice to the already competitive Namibian Rally Championship, and it has been a headlining event ever since its inception. This year’s edition will be especially memorable, as it will mark the passing of the event’s founder who passed away earlier this year. However, there is no doubting his spirit is relishing the rally battle that will unfold on the gravel stages from 17 to 19 November…
Held in and around the country’s capital, Windhoek, the rally starts on Thursday evening with four night stages and restarts on Friday morning for speed tests in Okahandia and Karibib before returning to Windhoek at nightfall. Saturday’s route comprises of more high-speed stages in and around Windhoek, with the final stage ending at 14h00. In total, crews will tackle 27 stages over 226 competitive kilometers with a route distance a little over 720km.
South Africa’s largest privateer rally team, Team Total comprises a four-car squad with two cars competing in the premier Class S2000 and two in Class S1600. Entering this rally, Team Total will be celebrating a successful season in the South African Rally Championship in which the privateer crews closely shadowed the factory teams during the eight-event series. For this event, a cherry on the top for Team Total, the Total Tara Rally poses all-new challenges for drivers and co-drivers.
Jean-Pierre Damseaux (co-driven by Carolyn Swan in a Toyota Auris S2000) and Stefanie Botha (co-driven for this event by father Willem Hugo in a Toyota RunX S1600, as regular co-driver Angela Shields was unable to attend due to work commitments) have both contested this event before, with Damseaux overall winner in 2007 and 2008. Will Damseaux be able to regain the winner’s trophy come Saturday afternoon? It will not be an easy task for the Somerset West-based rally ace as team-mate Mohammed Moosa and co-driver Grant Martin (Toyota Auris S2000) will aiming for the top step of the podium too. It will be Moosa and Martin’s first foray in Namibian rallying and in the unique driving conditions, but their determination and dedication that brought them a top ten position in the provisional overall South African Rally Championship is not to be underestimated.
Team Total’s two-wheel drive competitors Craig Trott/Robbie Coetzee (Toyota RunX S1600) and Stefanie Botha/Willem Hugo will be out to finish as the fastest crews in their category. This is also Trott’s first attempt at the Total Tara Rally, and his consistent driving approach to rallies will serve him well in this 27-stage event. Botha, who hails from Windhoek, will be out to put on a spectacular display of driving skill in her “home” event this weekend.
The entry list comprises Namibia’s fastest rally crews, and a thrilling battle for supremacy on these stages will make for exciting action for teams and spectators alike.
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