document : Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson latest SA entries in Dakar Rally

Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson latest SA entries in Dakar Rally
information supplied by: Peter Burroughes Communications 03 December 2012

Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson latest SA entries in Dakar Rally

Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson, who finished second in the special vehicle category of the 2012 Absa South African Off Road Car Championship, are the latest South Africans to announce their participation in the 2013 Dakar Rally in South America in January.

They will tackle the world’s longest and toughest off road race in a McRae MC-4RS in the top T1 class for 4x4 cars. Built in the Netherlands and entered by the experienced ProDakar team, it has a space frame chassis, 3-litre BMW turbo diesel engine and six-speed sequential gearbox.

“Mike and I are very excited about competing in our first Dakar,” said Van Staden, the 41-year-old owner of a Centurion-based electrical construction business and a former class P champion. “Dakar is the ultimate challenge for an off road racer. Like Mt Everest for a mountain climber or Tour de France for a cyclist. I’ve been watching the Dakar on television for many years and dreaming about competing. Now my dream is to become a reality.”

For Lawrenson, a 53-year-old furniture and home décor manufacturer from Edenvale who was the class P national champion co-driver in 2011, going to the Dakar is a chance of a lifetime. “Johan and I have enjoyed a successful first year together in the national championship (they enjoyed a win and a couple of second places and were in contention for the title right up to the final round) and it has been a good build-up to the Dakar. I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

Van Staden paid tribute to his Dakar sponsors. “We would not be able to do this without the generous support of a number of sponsors, including Kusokhanya Electrical Construction, Lebohang Project Management, Versalec Cables, Atlas Copco, Sizanani Plastics, ICare optometrists, IPM, JHB101 Group and Solason.”

Apart from competing in all eight rounds of the South African championship, regarded as the toughest national championship in the world, Van Staden and Lawrenson’s Dakar preparation has included a week honing their sand driving and navigation skills in the dunes of Walvis Bay in Namibia. They also spent a week in the Netherlands setting up the car before it was loaded on to a ship in the French port of Le Havre last Friday for the long voyage to Lima in Peru.

Top off road racer Chris Visser, who is one of a number of local competitors who aim to compete in the 2014 Dakar Rally, lent them his 2010 championship-winning Toyota Hilux to test in Namibia.

“This is the kind of camaraderie and support that is typical of off road racing and we’re very grateful to Chris for his generosity for allowing us to play with his racing bakkie in the sand dunes. It was invaluable experience and we were fortunate to have instruction from a sand dune driving expert in the form of well-known Namibian desert guide Don Niewoudt,” said Van Staden.

The 35th running of the Dakar Rally has attracted a total entry of 471 vehicles consisting of 195 motorcycles, 160 cars, 76 trucks and 40 quads. Some 53 nationalities are represented among the competitors, whose progress over the 14 days and 14 stages (4 200 kilometres) of competition – there is a rest day in San Miguel de Tucuman in Argentina on January 13 - will be reported on by an army of journalists and photographers and will be televised daily to more than 190 countries and an estimated five million-plus viewers around the world, including South Africa.

The rally will start in the Peruvian capital of Lima on the Pacific coast of South America and will finish in Santiago, Chile on January 19 with a podium ceremony on January 20.


Issued on behalf of Johan Van Staden by Peter Burroughes Communications, telephone 082 899 0101, e-mail
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