South Africa’s Hennie de Klerk and navigator Gerhard Schutte will be the nation’s only privately-funded team competing at the Dakar Rally starting in Peru on Saturday for 14 days of gruelling off-road motoring competition.
The event will conclude in Cordoba, Argentina, on January 20.
De Klerk gained entry to the race by winning the Dakar Challenge at the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race in June last year.
For the CEO of financial consultant TreasuryOne, competing at the highest level in motorsport has always been a dream for De Klerk.
Though it will be his first Dakar Rally, De Klerk is no stranger to motorsport.
He first began on the track in 2008 racing with a Porsche 924 in the Porsche challenge.
In 2011 he moved to off-road racing in the SA cross country racing series.
Competing as a privately-funded team means costs are exorbitant, but fortunately for De Klerk he did not have to pay the R400 000 entry, as victory in the Dakar Challenge meant he won a free entry.
In his preparation for the Dakar Rally, De Klerk spent a good portion of his training on sand dunes at Walvis Bay’s Dune 7 in Namibia.
Physical fitness is also a key requirement, and De Klerk hits the gym five times a week to keep in shape.
Part of De Klerk’s support team include four mechanics, a T5 truck driver and another driver for a support vehicle.
The other South Africans in action at the Dakar Rally will include five in the motorbike class, and Giniel de Villiers in the car category.
Five South-Africans will enter the 2018 Dakar rally in the motorbike class. Giniel de Villiers will be flying the SA flag, driving in the car category.
De Villiers famously won the Dakar Rally in 2009, and remains the only South African to have completed the feat.