WILLIE Dames of Namibia and his South African navigator Armand du Toit won the 2012 Total Tara Rally in a Volkswagen Polo on Saturday.
The rally once again lived up to its name as one of the toughest in Africa as only nine of the 24 competitors who started on Thursday managed to complete the rally.
After three days of gruelling riding around Windhoek, Okahandja, Wilhelmstal and Otjimbingwe, Dames and Du Toit completed the 26 special stages in a combined time of 2:59:49.
Jaco Wiese and Ernest Thatcher finished second in a Subaru Imprezza, 34 seconds behind, while Richard Himmel and Adolf Botes came third in a Subaru Imprezza in 3:01:08.
Last yearÂ’s winners, Wilro Dippenaar and Morné du Toit, looked set to retain their title in their Toyota RunX when they built up a lead of more than four minutes by Friday evening. But disaster struck on the 18th and final stage on Friday evening when they damaged the suspension after hitting a rock and crashed out of the race.
Dippenaar and Du Toit managed to win the Namibian Rally Championship after completing Stage 8 in the lead.
Dick Cornelissen and Melvin Gous were lying second early on in the rally, but they, too became casualties when they fell out in Stage 8 in Wilhelmstal after damaging their rear suspension.
Dames said it was a very tough race and they nearly did not make it to the end.
“It was a very tough race over three days. It was very hot and we had a tough time in Wilhelmstal where it was about 40 degrees. Overnight we were leading by 50 seconds over Jaco Wiese. The first three stages on Saturday morning, Jaco was riding like hell and he took 23 seconds off us. Then we had a service and we did two stages in the Northern Industrial where we took 13 seconds off him but then we damaged our gearbox going through a dip,” he said.
“We had to do quick repairs on our gearbox and at that stage we didnÂ’t think we were going to make it to the end but here we are so we are quite happy and glad that we are standing here now,” he added.
Dames said it was a great honour to win the Total Tara Rally and thanked his navigator, Du Toit.
“It’s a great honour for me to win this rally with Armand. My navigator Riaan van der Westhuizen had an operation so he couldn’t make it so I got Armand in from South Africa to come and help me. So I must also thank him for doing a great job for me and I hope we can do it next year again,” he added.