Over half of the 2024 Dakar Rally cars are made in South Africa

Published Dec 13, 2023


By: Motorsport Media

The 2024 Dakar Rally kicks off in just three weeks from now, with 354 crews from around the world rearing to tackle the world’s toughest motorsport event.

On Friday, January 5, crews will line up to start Dakar 2024’s 157km prologue through the Arabian Desert around the Saudi city Al-Ula. That sets the starting order for the next day’s first 532km Arabian desert stage to Al Henakiyah before 4,727km of racing and 7,891km overall, to the finish at Yanbu on Friday, January 19.

But here’s an interesting fact. Of the 72 cars entered in Dakar 2024, thirty eight of them were built in South Africa. These include 23 Toyota Hiluxes, 12 Centurys, three Red-Lined bakkies, and two Ford Rangers. That’s more than half the field!

12 South Africans will also either drive or navigate. And there will be a literal army of South Africans in the bivouac following and supporting the race.

Double reigning champion, Toyota Gazoo Racing, has entered no less than five made-at-Kyalami Hallspeed Dakar Hiluxes, three of them driven by South Africans, two of which have South African navigators, too.

Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy lead the team, aided and abetted by Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings, and rookie Saood Variawa with French notes-man Francois Cazalet. They will be backed by two international crews in Brazilian Lucas Moraes Lucas and Armand Monleon, and American Seth Quintero with Dennis Zenz.

The rest of the Toyota Hilux army comes from all over the world. Among them, another South African crew, 2018 Rookie winner Hennie de Klerk and Juan Möhr’s TreasuryONE Hilux is not a Hallspeed car but built around the corner by WCT Engineering in Kyalami.

Among the notable other Hallspeed Hiluxes, expect Saudi home hero Yazeed Al Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk to be on the pace, former Le Mans winner Frenchman Romain Dumas and Max Delfino are an interesting entry and never underestimate their compatriots, Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq at the Dakar.

Among the biggest news at Dakar 2024 is Ford’s official return with a pair of M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Rangers, built by Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) in Pietermaritzburg. One of those will be driven by SA rookie crew Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer, with Spanish Dakar legend Nani Roma and Alex Haro Bravo aboard the second Ranger.

Czech privateers Martin Prokop and Viktor Chytka are another regular Dakar threat in their Ford Raptor.

Sticking with the South African theme, Johannesburg-based Century Racing is back with a split two-car factory effort. South African crew Brian Baragwanath and Leonard Cremer step up to Century’s all-new all-wheel drive T1+ class CR7-T, while Frenchmen Mathieu Serradori and Loic Minaudier continue for their quest for that illusive T1.2 class win with their rear-driven CR6-T.

A fleet of ten privateer Century buggies are driven by crews from all around the world, headlined by Dutch twins Tim and Tom Coronel, and former bikers, Spanish female rider Laia Sanz and Maurizio Gerini’s Astara version.

Last but not least among the South African cars, Red-Lined machines are also built alongside the Grand Prix Circuit at Kyalami. Red-Lined, whose cars won the amateur T1.1 class in 2023, has teamed up with Chinese T1.2 4x2 class winner Wei Han and Li Ma. They make their top class T1+ debut in a Red-Lined-based HanWei Motorsport entry.

Two other Red-Lined REVO+ T1+ cars are entered for teen lady 2023 Dakar SSV sensation Aliyyah Koloc and South African notes man Riaan Greyling, and Belgian rookie Stefan Carmans and Antonius van Tiel.

The big guns to beat

However the South African armada must first overcome one or two significant rivals to win again. Not least of whom is Gazoo Racing refugee, and reigning driver and navigator champions, Qatari Dakar legend Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel aboard a Prodrive Hunter for the 2024 race.

If that’s not enough, that dynamic duo is backed by no less than nine-time World Rally Champion, Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, still looking for his maiden Dakar win alongside Fabian Lurquin.

Speaking of mega experience, Audi Sport brings an unchanged team to its swansong Dakar aboard its trio of sophisticated petrol-electric hybrids. Mr Dakar, Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel, is looking for no less than a fifteenth Dakar win alongside Edouard Boulanger.

Spanish team-mate, double former World Rally Champion, Carlos Sainz Snr is looking for his fourth Dakar victory with Cruz Lucas reading the notes. And never ignore Swedes Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist in the third Audi.

Other Dakar cars to keep an eye out for are any of the X-Raid Minis, and notably Pole Krzysztof Holowczyc and Lukasz Kurzeja, and Lithuanian Vaidotas Zala and Paulo.

Dakar would however not be Dakar without the trucks, and 2024 is no exception. Iveco is taking no chances on repeating its 2023 win with victors Janus van Kasteren, Darek Rodewald and Marcel Snijders back at the head of an armada of the Italian behemoths driven by among others, countrymen Mitchel and Martin van den Brink, and Richard de Groot, and Czech Martin Macik.

New Energy Vehicles

In addition to the full 4,727 km that the regular cars attack in anger, nine ‘next technology’ vehicles will race in the new alternative energies Dakar Mission 1000. Catering for fully electric, hydrogen and hybrid cars, Mission 1000 races ten 100km sections for a total of 1,000km through the Dakar fortnight.

"We have made sure that the fifth edition of Dakar in Saudi Arabia will be the toughest race since we have come to the Middle East," race director David Castera warned. “We will race 4,727 km and cover 7,891 km of special stages, including a new two-day ‘48h chrono’ marathon stage, where competitors must stop at the nearest of eight bivouacs at 4pm and crews will have no contact with their teams. This one will be tough. Good luck to all competitors and teams!”

Motorsport Media

Related Topics:

motor racing4x4