Red-Lined Motoring Adventures went to the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana with one goal in mind and that was to take home the prestigious Toyota Road to Dakar award. That’s exactly what Namibian Cross Country Auto Racing rookies Jaco van Dyk and Michel Rust achieved as they powered their 24-7 Race Fuels Red-Lined Nissan Navara T1 race pickup to sixth and fourth overall respectively over the two points-paying days, to head home with that coveted prize in their pocket.
It was also a positive, if tough weekend for Schalk Burger Junior and Elvine Vonk, who chased van Dyk and Rust home in seventh on Saturday and fifth on Sunday aboard their King Price Red-Lined Nissan Navara T1, but it proved a tough weekend for Ernest Roberts and Riaan Greyling aboard the JCP Roofing Red-Lined Nissan Navara T1 along the gruelling three-day route lined by literally hundreds of thousands of Desert Race fans.
Roberts and Greyling got their TDR 1000 adventure off to the best start with seventh in the FIA Class, just three seconds clear of Namibian teammates and Desert Race debutants van Dyk and Rust, with Schalk Burger and Elvine Vonk not far behind in spite an early puncture.
A tough first full day, which counted for full championship points, saw van Dyk and Rust coming home fifth among the FIA competitors on Saturday in spite of that duo suffering gearbox issues, eight minutes ahead of Burger and Vonk. There was however drama for Roberts and Greyling, who damaged their Navara’s right front suspension after hitting the same tree stump that halted Giniel de Villiers’ progress.
Sunday’s race again paid separate points and it went even better for Namibian Desert Race debutants van Dyk and Rust, when not only did they storm in sixth overall and fourth in the FIA Class, but they also won the coveted Toyota Road to Dakar Award that hands them a highly valuable free entry to Dakar Saudi Arabia in 2020 or 2021.
“What an incredible weekend!” Jaco van Dyk admitted. “To pick up the Road to Dakar Award at what was a truly special race finish in front of all those people was a very special moment. “We need to thank our Red-Lined team for a great Navara this weekend — sixth yesterday, fourth today and the Road to Dakar ticket in our pocket is a wonderful end to a fantastic weekend!
“There were quite literally hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the route over the three days and the crowds were amazing, but this race took a little getting used to. “The Botswana Desert Race is tight and twisty and that’s totally different to what we know in the fast and wide open Namibian desert, but it was an adventure as we adapted well enough and brought home the result we were looking for.”
Schalk Burger pushed hard to overcame a few problems en route to add fifth on Sunday to his fifth on Saturday. “We had a little trouble in the time trial with that puncture and then a few wrong slots in the dust cost us time on Friday, so we started a little further back than we’d have liked on Saturday,” Schalk reported. “Still, we were quite happy to come in seventh, so close behind Jaco and Michel and then we moved up to fifth in T1 on Sunday despite three more punctures for another good haul of points so in all, a pretty good weekend.”
Ernest Roberts’ weekend started well but his weekend was ruined by that tree stump before coming back to score good points. “Friday was great, but we struck the same hidden obstacle that took Giniel out and we were stuck with damage on the bakkie on Saturday. “We got back to the overnight stop and the team did wonders to fix the car for Sunday morning to allow us to score vital points, but the Desert Race made for another great adventure on our steep learning curve and we’re looking forward to fighting back — thanks to the team for a superb effort.”
“That was a great weekend for the team, ”Red Lined Motoring Adventures team manager Terence Marsh wrapped it up. “We came here looking for that Road to Dakar prize and Jaco and Michel took it home after another great weekend of racing. “Schalk and Elvine kept on learning this weekend and while Ernest and Riaan had a tough break, they have had a great start to their rookie season and Sunday’s points keep them in the hunt “What an adventure!”