Just three points separate log leaders Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (Ford Castrol Ranger) from the Toyota Hilux pairing of Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings as the South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) heads into the penultimate round, the Renergen 400 in Welkom this weekend.

The chase for the title in the 2023 championships is tight and the leaders are just five points up on Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy (Toyota Hilux) in the Production Vehicle category. However, in the T1+ class standings, Gareth and Boyd are placed second, three points behind Lategan/Cummings.

Accordingly, it’s all to play for when the crews tackle Round 6 of the series, which will be based at the Phakisa Raceway circuit just outside Welkom.

The second NWM Ford Castrol pairing of Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (#234) are fifth in the overall Production Vehicle and T1+ standings. The duo are aiming for a strong result as they continue their first season together, having shown impressive pace throughout the year.

“As expected, this year’s SA Rally-Raid Championship is extremely close, and it’s going to be a thrilling fight to the end of the season,” says Neil Woolridge, NWM team principal. “Gareth and Boyd have scored four podiums out of five races thus far, including the overall victory at the Botswana Desert Race, with Lance and Kenny coming home second.

“We have made numerous changes and upgrades to our T1+ Ranger during the season, and the results have proven that we have a very competitive car. We will be giving it everything to ensure that the fight for this year’s championship goes right down to the wire,” Neil says.

The NWM-supported privateer team of Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen (#241) have achieved several top 10 finishes this year in their T1+ Ranger. They are 11th in the T1+ standings and have their sights set on moving up a couple of places in the class championship.

Race programme

According to the SARRC race organisers, the Renergen 400 will feature the Super Event format, comprising a short Pirelli Qualifying Race on Friday, 6 October followed by an opening race loop on the same day, then two further loops on Saturday 7 October.

With the event based at the Phakisa Raceway, the prologue starts at 10:15 and adds a unique twist by incorporating half of the race track before exiting and heading onto more familiar off-road terrain towards Odendaalsrus.

This opening 15 km sprint will determine the starting order for Friday’s first 58 km race loop that sets off at 13:15. Friday’s results will determine the starting order for Saturday, which will see competitors completing two 164 km loops, kicking off at 08:00 and separated by a mandatory 30-minute service stop.

The action is expected to be fast and furious, with lots of open sections along mealie fields, along with mine dumps and some more tight and technical areas.

Fans can follow all the action and track the position of the crews throughout each of the 2023 season’s seven races using the RallySafe app, which can be downloaded free of charge for iOS and Android devices from the relevant app stores.

Colin Windell - proudly ALL THINGS MOTORING