Conditions in final SA Rally-Raid border on being atrocious

The extremely wet conditions left the organisers of this Parys event with no choice but to shorten the distance for the final event.

For many, the weather proved to be the final decider of this sixth and final round of the series of the SA Rally-Raid. Both the first and second day loops had to be shortened to a 12km qualifying and then a 98km (first day) and 86km (second day) loop.

With only 27 starters in the Production and Special Vehicle Categories after the sixth round the previous day, the teams set off on the qualifier with Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (NWM Ford Castrol T1+ Ranger) posting the fastest time. The top five competitors finished with 19 seconds between them.

In the Production Vehicle Category, the FIA T1+ title was still to be decided with the defending champions, Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings (Toyota Gazoo Racing DKR Hilux T1+) claiming the victory the previous day ahead of their teammates and title challenger De Villiers, accompanied by Burke. Lategan/Cummings completed the Pirelli Qualifying Race in ninth place and with the leading 10 teams drawing for their starting positions, the defending champions were off in second place, just behind their teammates Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle with De Villiers/Burke pulling away in fifth place while the winners of the qualifier started from fourth.

De Villiers and Burke.

A drenched and extremely slippery and muddy route was not something to look forward to, and competitors had their hands full to keep their vehicles on the road and to make the best of the atrocious conditions.

A first overall victory and FIA T1+ win of the season eventually went to Gareth Woolridge/Dreyer who edged out De Villiers/Burke, but the runner-up result was enough for De Villiers to claim the overall and FIA T1+ title. Lategan/Cummings were forced to retire due to alternator issues and the power steering belt dislodging due to the wet conditions.

The third place went to Chris Visser/Albertus Venter (Red-Lined Motorsport REVO) who were the FIA T1 victors.

The miserable conditions took its toll on Variawa/Stassen as well as Gary Bertholdt/Juan Möhr (FIA T1 Toyota Hilux) and the Blignaut brothers, Fouche and Bertus (#TeamHilux Rally-Raid).

Special Vehicle Category – The brave warriors with no windscreens

In the Special Vehicle Category, Trace Price Moor/Shaun Braithwaite (TipTop Milk BAT Venom) added another overall and Class A victory to their wins the previous day with Lood du Preez/Chris Visser Jr (Farmers Meat Stryker) finishing second overall and in Class A. It was another real challenge for the open-wheel vehicles in Class A, Class P and Class G in the treacherous conditions with these vehicles not having the luxury of a windscreen, wipers and windows.

Price Moor and Braithwaite.

After making their SARRC debut at Round Six of the Parys 400 the previous day and finishing third in Class G, Gideon Jacobs/Richard Vardy Jr (Moto-Netix Racing Can-Am Maverick) took it one step further to claim the top step of the Class G podium while they added more silverware to their collection finishing second overall in the Special Vehicle Category. They were followed by teammates Glen Theron/Craig Galvin with the outgoing Class G champions, Cecil and Elardus Larney, rounding off the class podium and finishing fourth overall.

The father-and-son team of Werner and Ian Mostert (Moto-Netix Racing Can-Am Maverick) did not reach the finish. The only Class P starters, Quintin Lessing/Noel Acton (Century CR-T) could also not complete the race.

This 2022 Parys 400 will be remembered as the wettest race in almost two decades. It brought back memories of the Carnival City 400 in 2003.

Images: André Schoeman

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