Highlights For The 2022 Dakar Rally: Car Category

Highlights For The 2022 Dakar Rally: Car Category

Between January 1-14, 2022, the 44th edition of the Dakar Rally was organised by Amaury Sport Organization and hosted in Saudi Arabia for the third time, and supported by Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.

The race began in Ha’il and finished in Jeddah, traversing through the Neom region’s gorges and cliffs, along the Red Sea coast, and across stretches of dunes encircling Riyadh, with the sand dunes on Empty Quarter providing most of the action. The course featured one prologue stage and twelve regular stages spanning over 8000 km in total.

Recapping some of the Dakar Rally 2022 Highlights in the Cars Category:

Toyota Gazoo Team’s Proudly South African Hilux Takes The Win

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mattieu Baumel were not the first vehicles to cross the finish line. Still, nevertheless, the Team in a South African built Hilux secured a fourth championship in the cars category in a dominating performance.

Podium: A Close Contest For Second Between Toyota Gazoo And Bahrain Raid Xtreme

Being the winner in the crowd favourite category is a coveted position, but it is by no means an easy feat. Al-Attiyah has buckled under pressure before, but this year he and co-driver Baumel delivered a brilliant effort. The Qatari was determined to take the lead from the offset and succeeded in winning the two specials (1A and 1B) at the start of the race.

51-year-old Al-Attiyah claimed his fourth Dakar championship, completing the final stage 12 minutes and seven seconds faster than second-place Bahrain Raid Xtreme Team: Sébastien Loeb and co-driver Fabian Lurquin. The Team faltered in stage 3 due to a damaged driveshaft, resulting in a 50-minute disadvantage by the time rest day had arrived on the 8th of January. Despite this, the race for top spot remained tight between the two teams.

Yazeed Al Rajhi of Saudi Arabia and co-driver Michael Orr finished in third place, 1 hour, 1 minute and 13 seconds behind the leaders.

Notable Difficulties And Achievements

  • Audi Sport was off to a troubling start in the first stages, with Carlos Sainz making disastrous navigation errors and Stephane Peterhansel losing one of his rear wheels, paying an exceptionally high penalty in order to continue his Dakar journey.
  • South African driver Henk Lategan for Toyota Gazoo Racing also suffered a similar loss, suffering a puncture and losing one of his rear wheels at 142km of Stage 1B. However, a notable mention goes to the highest-ranking South African: 23-year old Bradley Cox, who finished in 23rd position – which is admirable considering this year was his first entry into the gruelling race and only second rally raid yet.
  • Benediktas Vanagas and Filipe Palmeiro of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Baltics team had one of the worst outings of the 2022 Dakar, with the pair’s vehicle taking flight and flipping head over heels in Stage 4.
  • SWR Raid Lynx Team drivers Pélichet jérôme Larroque Pascal had the only no-start withdrawal in the cars category with their car failing to start at stage 1B.

Looking To The Future

All eyes will be on French sportscar manufacturer ORECA who are endeavouring to participate in the 2023 Dakar Rally with a hybrid rally raid prototype. ORECA is following several teams’ footsteps in pursuing new technologies for cross-country rallying, as the 2024 Dakar is set to move towards alternative energy regulations.

Notably, Audi has adopted these new regulations, debuting its electric RS Q e-Tron this year. Prodrive’s Bahrain Raid Xtreme and Guerlain Chicherit’s GCK teams implemented the use of biofuel for their 2022 vehicles, with the GCK teams’ goal to develop a hydrogen-powered car for the 2024 Rally.

South African Cross Country Series Concludes On A High Note

The highly competitive and thrilling South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) came to an action-packed conclusion with the seventh and final race of the 2021 series rounding off this November. The TGRSA Parys 400 took place on November 20th, 2021, in the small but vibrant city of Parys along the banks of the Vaal River in the Free State.

The SACCS is a national championship considered the most professional and competitive cross country motor racing events of its kind in the world. It includes seven racing events each year and caters for Production and Special Vehicles. SACS is run in accordance with FIA and MSA (Motorsport South Africa) guidelines.

Series Highlights

The highly anticipated Parys 400 was a one-day event that put drivers under pressure right from the start. Boela Botes and Jay Pretorius (King Price Xtreme Porter) made a riveting finish despite colliding with a fence during the first two loops when their brakes failed. Luckily they managed to get the brakes fixed and won the Special Vehicles category, after a clean second loop in a time of 04:44:25.

The SACCS 2021 series began with the Mpumalanga 400 in Dullstroom on 26 and 27 March and was a tough start with rocky, treacherous and muddy conditions. Audiences were supportive of young debut racers Kent Rutherford and Kabelo Mokanyane. However, the Ford Castrol Cross Country Team Ranger led by Lance Woolridge and Elvéne Vonk made history by winning the event overall. They also scored full marks in the FIA Class of the Production Vehicle Championship.

Round 2 of the SACCS national championship series was the Sugarbelt 400 in Eston, KwaZulu Natal, and Round 3 was the Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa 1000 in Upington Northern Cape. Unfortunately in this one, the desert took its toll on the Can-Am Maverick SxS vehicles and many were disappointed.

After the Road to Dakar event in June, it was back to rounds 4 and 5 of the series, which took the form of the 4×4 Mega World 400 and Nampo 400 in the scenic Free State in the first week of October. Lance Trethewey and Adriaan Roets (King Price Xtreme BAT) scored their 5th consecutive victory at this point, opening up the gap to secure them the national championship title.

The penultimate round 6, the Vryburg 400, took place in North West Province from 29 to 30 October. Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings (Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux) were victorious in the Production Vehicle and FIA Class Championship titles with a time of 04:53:07.

The Road Ahead

Now that the final chequered flag was waved, teams can relax and recoup from the drama and excitement of high-speed performance, tough terrains, punctures, brake failures, tears and thrills. Many drivers use the South African Cross Country Series as preparation for the exhilarating Dakar Rally, so look out for the next big race!

The Dakar Rally: How It Works and How To Enter

The Dakar Rally: How It Works and How To Enter

The Dakar Rally is an annual rally raid where, in the past, participants traditionally drove from Paris to Dakar over 12 days. Currently, the entire race is held in Saudi Arabia due to unrest in Mauritania, where drivers would have to cross. The rally is completed using extremely modified off-road vehicles and motorcycles as the terrain is very tough and dangerous.

How It Works

The Dakar Rally covers thousands of kilometres over 10-12 days and, in the past, crossed multiple countries. There is one stage each day which can include on and off-road sections. The type of stage is determined by sporting penalties as well as the special stage times.

One of the challenges of the race is navigation, as participants have to orientate themselves and find their way through the race with a roadbook given to participants. These books are provided at each stage, so the actual course of the race is unknown until the crews receive them.

Each day’s starting positions are determined by how well participants did in the previous day’s timed section. This includes if racers have sporting penalties such as missing waypoints or link sector speeding. There is also a special marathon category of the race where competitors are not allowed support vehicles or teams to assist them throughout the race, which requires incredible skill and endurance.

How To Enter

Anyone can apply for the Dakar Rally as long as they hold an International FIA/FIM Cross-Country Rally license and are over 18 years of age. Prospective contestants also need to prove that they are able to cope with the gruelling and dangerous race by having competed in an event on the FIA/FIM calendars.

However, the organisers of the race have the rights reserved to deny entry of any competitor they deem too inexperienced in a competitive vehicle, motorbike racing or if they believe that a competitor is unfit to race. This is because the Dakar Rally is an extreme, dangerous and difficult race that could cause and has caused fatalities in the past.

The Dakar Rally is an ultra-endurance rally raid open to professionals and amateurs alike. This is an unforgettable adventure where people fulfil their dreams and can accomplish a huge personal challenge.

The Dakar Rally’s Unexpected Origin Story and Dangerous Possibilities

The Dakar Rally’s Unexpected Origin Story and Dangerous Possibilities

The Dakar Rally is an off-road endurance event that hundreds of avid racers participate in every year. The competitors traverse extremely tough terrain with advanced off-road vehicles and motorcycles. The traditional Dakar Rally took place from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal but now is contained entirely in Saudi Arabia.


This world-renown event all started in 1977 when Thierry Sabine was participating in the Abidjan-Nice rally. Unfortunately, he got lost in the Libyan desert and did not place very well in the competition.

However, Thierry fell in love with the landscape he had found and was completely enthralled and amazed at its beauty and terrain. This led him to want to share what he had found with as many people as possible and proceeded to come up with the route of the traditional Dakar Rally.

This route started in Paris, France, went through Algiers, crossed Agadez and finished in Dakar. The distances of each stage of the race range from short to very long distances of up to 800-900 kilometres. These long ranges are taxing for the mind and body, which is why this race is seen as an ultra-endurance event.


The Dakar Rally is infamous for being one of the most dangerous races in the world. So far, 28 participants have not survived the events, and dozens more have very narrowly escaped death. The danger comes in various forms, including vehicle collisions, disorientation in the desert, personal injuries and mechanical failure of vehicles.

The terrain is extremely tough with soft sand and large rocks where a crash or accident can easily cause vehicles to break down, causing disorientation or possibly fatal injury.

The climate in the area of the race is also part of the challenge, with temperatures easily reaching 45 degrees celsius. Elevation has also reached 5000 meters in the past, creating a serious risk of altitude sickness.

Teams or individuals are not allowed to use digital devices to find their way and need to make use of physical maps and roadbooks to trace their routes day to day. This also poses the risk of getting lost in the desert without supplies, which can be extremely dangerous and has caused fatalities in the rally in previous years.

The Dakar Rally has a rich history and brings excitement and adrenaline to the lives of many. It is no mean feat, though and can be extremely dangerous for inexperienced drivers and even professionals due to the unpredictability of the desert terrain. It certainly is thrilling to see.

The art of racing on slippery slopes

The art of racing on slippery slopes

In The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein observes, “In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tyres break free will regain control
of his vehicle.”

Face First founder and managing director Stevan Wilken similarly reflects on his journey over the last decade in taking the company from the humble dirt roads of the Midlands onto the busy freeways of KwaZulu-Natal.

As young boy growing up in the Midlands, he tested the limits of his own abilities and the patience of those around him. “I was always an adventurer at heart, yet grounded in the simplicity of small-town life that somehow kindled the desire to venture beyond. Growing up in a happy family also taught me the immensity of teams, a good sense of direction and a keen eye to choose my best line through a bend,” he says.

The family man and enthusiastic rallycross driver turned entrepreneur is about to become one of the 10 largest out-of-home media owners in South Africa. And as if this wasn’t enough to manage, he has set his eyes on the Dakar Rally 2022/23 season to lead a proudly South African team in the ultimate feat of endurance, tenacity and pride.

“I like to lead from the front, set the pace and keep my eyes firmly on the road ahead,” Wilken explains. This approach to life and business mastered on muddied rally tracks has spearheaded Face First Media’s rise to prominence – especially in KwaZuluNatal and more recently in Gauteng and Cape Town. Face First Media has
developed an extensive inventory that now comprises over 180 premium and strategically located advertising sites, the largest billboard holding in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Once you have enrolled yourself in the race, you need a clear route map, an adept support team and a great navigator to allow you to push your driving skills to the limit, confidently handle the off-road conditions and bravely attempt the fast pull-offs and power slides,” Wilken continues. “It is this understanding I have carried through in my business. I make sure I always surround myself with an impeccable team to enable me to push ahead, trust my instincts and steer my car where my eyes go.”

Engaging Wilken on his route map for Face First Media, a picture comes into view of a provocateur who set his sights on disrupting the long standing of certain companies over KwaZulu-Natal’s metropolitan highways and arterial networks. “Over time my game plan took shape around this clear route map, and my execution meant keeping my eyes on the unfolding road and where I needed to make tactical adjustments to navigate slippery conditions, without changing course or blinking my eyes.”

He and his team are part of a leading group of media owners now pioneering digital out-of-home (DOOH) in South Africa. Face First Media has introduced a trio of LED Digital Super Signs on all incoming highways into Durban, the only company currently able to offer full digital coverage on the N3, N2 and M4.

Looking ahead, Wilken says, “We will reimagine new ways companies can benefit from DOOH, while I continue along my own art of racing in the rain.”