Total Tara starting on Thursday (video clip)

WINDHOEK: The stage is set for the 46th annual Total Tara Rally from Thursday to Saturday.

Twenty-four teams have thus far entered for the event. Entries are still open until shortly before the race commences on Thursday.

The 2013 Tara champion, Japie van Niekerk and his navigator Gerhard Snyman with their Ford Fiesta S3, will also be in action.

Other big names in the Namibian rally fraternity are Cecil Koortz, Hannes Arangies, and Wilro Dippenaar (2011 Total Tara champion, and 2011 and 2014 Cymot rally champion).

The only women participants are Maretha Olivier and Aisha Franz, who will navigate for their teams.

The first stage will start on Thursday at 19h55 in the vicinity of the Hage Geingob Rugby Stadium in Olympia.

The second and third stages will take place in the Prosperita and the Western Bypass areas, respectively, with the last of the four stages for Day One, ending again at the rugby stadium.

Friday will have 17 stages, with six stages taking place in and around Rehoboth, south of the capital. The participating cars will leave for Rehoboth from Aris at 08h15.

The day will end at about 22h00 with Stage 17 – a high speed race between the remaining cars at the Tony Rust Race Track, west of the capital.

On Saturday, the race will take place in and around Windhoek with action in Prosperita, Trustco (Lafrenz Industrial Area), Elizenheim and the Eros Airport.

The rally will end at the Wanderers Sport Club in Pionierspark, with the first car expected in at about 12h40.

The participants will compete over a distance of almost 600 kilometres (km), of which about 260 km will be battled in special stages.

Meanwhile, the routes and rules have changed since the first Tara in 1969, when drivers had to finish up to 3 000 km in less than 30 hours, taking them over vast areas like the Gamsberg, Nauchas, Dordabis, Rehoboth and as far as Swakopmund over the Khomas Hochland.

Although the routes are much shorter and technology has evolved to make it more comfortable for driver and car, such as high-tech navigational systems and technologically-advanced engines and suspensions combined with safety equipment, the rally still has the same impact on both man and machine.

The first Tara in 1969 was won by Chris Liebenberg behind the wheel and Andre de Jager as his navigator in a Renault Gordini.

Booklets on the 2014 event titled ‘Spectators Guide, catch the vibe’ are available at most Total service stations across Namibia.

It contains information on routes, drivers and the various classes of this year’s Tara.