Podium celebrations for Team Total in Namibia

The Challenge:
Namibian rally enthusiasts celebrated the dawning of a new rally star in this weekend’s 43rd Total Tara Rally. Held in and around Windhoek, Namibia, Wilro Dippenaar and co-driver Morne du Toit (Toyota RunX S2000) swept to a popular win in their home event. The Total Tara Rally counted as the season finale of the 2011 Namibian Rally Championship season.

This event poses unique challenges: high ambient temperatures, a tight and technical rally route made all the more exciting when adding the high caliber of Namibian Rally Championship’s competitors.

Held in and around the country’s capital, Windhoek, the rally started on Thursday evening with four night stages, moved to Okahandja and Wilhelmstal on Friday where 16 stages were held. Saturday route, the final day of the rally, comprised seven high-speed tests in and around Windhoek, before the finish on Saturday afternoon at the Sport Klub Windhoek centre. To highlight the trying conditions of the route, only 14 of the 22 original starters reached the finish after the event’s 27 stages, 226 competitive kilometers and the 720km total event distance for competitors.

The Crews:
Boasting the largest privateer rally team in South Africa, Team Total contests the premier Class S2000 with two crews and the Class S1600 and Two Wheel Drive Championship with two crews. All four cars are Toyotas, with the Class S2000 machines the latest iterations of the rally-winning Auris S2000. For this weekend’s challenge, the cars ran under Namibian Rally Championship regulations, meaning that the two Class S2000 crews contested Class S4 and Craig Trott/Robbie Coetzee in Class S1 and Stefanie Botha/Willem Hugo in Class S2.

Team Total grabbed podium positions in each of the Classes it entered in this rally, with Mohammed Moosa/Grant Martin claiming third place overall and Stefanie Botha/Willem Hugo sixth place overall.

The first loop of four stages proved taxing on Moosa/Martin’s Toyota Auris S2000, as they lost time while suffering electrical problems exacerbated by a failing alternator. However, on Day Two’s stages the Tzaneen-based businessman powered his way up the field from an overnight 16th overall to fourth place at the end of Day Two’s speed tests and reeled in the leaders by over six minutes.

Day Three highlighted Moosa’s speed on this event, seeing him move one place up the leader board to claim third position overall and his first podium result with his new Toyota Auris S2000rally weapon.

Fellow Class S2000 team-mates Jean-Pierre Damseaux/Carolyn Swan (Toyota Auris S2000) shadowed the rally leader on Day One and seized the overall rally lead on Day Two’s morning loop of stages. Driving with the pace and confidence that brought Damseaux two wins in 2007 and 2008 on this event, he posted two fastest stage times to extend his lead over his rivals, but the crew unfortunately saw their rally end after striking a tree to damage his car beyond repair on the event.

Craig Trott/Robbie Coetzee (Toyota RunX S1600) suffered poor luck when they got lost in one of the opening night stages and then while working their way back up the leader board, their rally machine’s driveshaft snapped to force them to retire from the rally. After repairs from their hard-working service crew, Trott/Coetzee were able to restart the event under SupeRally regulations and finished just outside the top ten.

In her home event, Team Total’s only female rally driver Stefanie Botha claimed a commendable sixth place overall in her Toyota RunX S1600. Partnered with Angela Shields in the South African Rally Championship, her regular co-driver was unable to attend this event due to work commitments, but her father ably stepped up to fill the role. This event marked her season-best result and her stage times were comparable with faster machinery such was her determination and dedication this weekend.

The Total Tara Rally 2011 proved once more to be an spectator attraction and the weather played its part to make this event an enjoyable and exciting one for crews and spectators alike.

Follow Team Total:
For news and photographs live from the event, visit us on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/pBFCpZ and on Twitter at http://bit.ly/jBLu4j. For more information, please visit www.totalmotorsport.co.za.