Image: Schröder, Bland lead T1.1 Photo : Dakar
Sébastien Loeb secured a second stage victory at the 2023 Dakar Rally on Sunday but it was Nasser Al-Attiyah who had plenty of reasons to smile as he remains more than an hour ahead of his nearest rival in the car race after eight gruelling stages through Saudi Arabia.
South African amateur team defies wild Dakar odds
South African rally raid race car manufacturer, Red-Lined Motorsport Adventures is living up to its name at Dakar 2023, which reached its traditional midway rest day Sunday evening.
All four Red-Lined entries were still running strong despite the toughest Dakar in years. One leads the T1.1 amateur class while another is on the podium and Red-Lined is one of three South African built vehicles leading their respective classes at this year’s event.
With half or more of the field racing well into the dark every evening as race cars struggled to deal with the tracks of an ever-growing field ahead, conditions became untenable as treacherous storms hit the Saudi Arabian Desert.
Conditions were tough enough already, with crews suffering an extraordinary number of punctures and breakages. But the going got even tougher when more rain fell over the second and third days of the Dakar Rally than the region usually benefits over a full year.
Not only did that make it beyond tough for competitors with wet and unpredictable conditions, but service crews had to work in the freezing wet conditions well into, and regularly through the night. The route was altered, and Saturday’s bike and quad race even cancelled in the interests of safety.
Yet in spite of the challenges, Red-Lined Motorsport has not only turned the traumatic first week of Dakar into an adventure, but it has also done so at winning pace as the company delivers on its promise of an epic privateer businessman rally raid racing experience.
“With 38% of the T1 cars including some really high-profile teams and drivers already eliminated from Dakar 2023, it just goes to show how tough and challenging this first week has been,” Red-Lined CEO Terence Marsh points out. “As a team we really have had to come together quickly in order to overcome these challenges. “I am extremely proud of what we have achieved up to now!”
German Daniel Schröder and South African Ryan Bland’s PS Laser Red-Lined VK50 lie an impressive 33rd overall and first in their T1.1 class while Dubai based Brit Thomas Bell and South African Gerhard Schutte lie 40th overall and 3rd in class in their VK56. Dutch pairing, Dave Klaassen and Tessa Rooth are 42nd overall on debut in their DaklaPack VK56 while fellow countrymen and debutants Ronald van Loon and Erik Lemmen are 49th overall.
The second week looks to be just as challenging as the Dakar caravan heads east into the Empty Quarter where the dunes are regarded as some of the most challenging dunes in the world, towards the finish in Damman.