Jason Venter Nabs First Dakar Challenge Wildcard

The new Dakar Challenge season got under way in South Africa with the RFS Endurance in Harrismith, where Leeroy Poulter won the first leg of the championship and Jason Venter clinched the first ticket for the 2016 Dakar!

There was a whiff of the Dakar in the air around Harrismith this weekend. Rainy periods in this region are few and far between, but the highland landscapes were transformed by a deluge for the first leg of the South African rally championship. River crossings and torrents of mud conjured memories of waterlogged, Dantesque stages in the Dakar, such as last January's Bolivian adventure or the final special to Buenos Aires, which was raced on an extremely slippery course. It must have hit Leeroy Poulter that it was precisely that day when he achieved his best finish in a Dakar stage, second place (and sixteenth overall). The multiple-time South African rally champion no doubt drew upon his experience to dominate the race at the wheel of his Toyota Hilux, one of only 18 vehicles to survive the deluge (43 cars on the start line).

In such cataclysmic circumstances, the Dakar Challenge could only crown a candidate who has what it takes to tackle the toughest stages in the Dakar. Colin Matthews looked strongest in the face of the weather throughout the entire weekend, but the favourite learned the hard way that, in the unforgiving world of sport, nothing's over till it's over. Matthews drove flawlessly for no fewer than 778 of the 780 km on the menu, but mechanical disaster struck with 2 km to go and Matthews saw his Dakar dreams washed away. 24-year-old Jason Venter capitalised on Matthews' misfortune to show that toughness and resilience do not necessarily come with age. At the end of the day, the young driver at the wheel of the same Toyota Hilux Giniel De Villiers drove in 2013 (runner-up) beat Portugal's Rómulo Branco by over an hour, while Matthews managed to stay on the podium of the Challenge by the skin of his teeth. Jason Venter Nabs the First Wildcard Email Myself Press Release Print Press ReleaseShare on facebookShare on twitterShare on google_plusone_shareShare on bloggerMore Sharing Services31 Mar 2015The new Dakar Challenge season got under way in South Africa with the RFS Endurance in Harrismith, where Leeroy Poulter won the first leg of the championship and Jason Venter clinched the first ticket for the 2016 Dakar!

There was a whiff of the Dakar in the air around Harrismith this weekend. Rainy periods in this region are few and far between, but the highland landscapes were transformed by a deluge for the first leg of the South African rally championship. River crossings and torrents of mud conjured memories of waterlogged, Dantesque stages in the Dakar, such as last January's Bolivian adventure or the final special to Buenos Aires, which was raced on an extremely slippery course. It must have hit Leeroy Poulter that it was precisely that day when he achieved his best finish in a Dakar stage, second place (and sixteenth overall). The multiple-time South African rally champion no doubt drew upon his experience to dominate the race at the wheel of his Toyota Hilux, one of only 18 vehicles to survive the deluge (43 cars on the start line).

In such cataclysmic circumstances, the Dakar Challenge could only crown a candidate who has what it takes to tackle the toughest stages in the Dakar. Colin Matthews looked strongest in the face of the weather throughout the entire weekend, but the favourite learned the hard way that, in the unforgiving world of sport, nothing's over till it's over. Matthews drove flawlessly for no fewer than 778 of the 780 km on the menu, but mechanical disaster struck with 2 km to go and Matthews saw his Dakar dreams washed away. 24-year-old Jason Venter capitalised on Matthews' misfortune to show that toughness and resilience do not necessarily come with age. At the end of the day, the young driver at the wheel of the same Toyota Hilux Giniel De Villiers drove in 2013 (runner-up) beat Portugal's Rómulo Branco by over an hour, while Matthews managed to stay on the podium of the Challenge by the skin of his teeth.


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