20 Nov 2016 15:10pm
WINDHOEK, 20 NOV (NAMPA) South African duo, Japie van Niekerk and Robin Houghton, won the 2016 Tara Rally in Windhoek on Saturday for the third time.
The event which took place over two days instead of the previous three, had a total of 21 stages (424.37 kilometres) in and around Windhoek.
Thirty eight participants driving 19 cars entered the rally. Seven cars did not finish.
Van Niekerk and Houghton finished in a time of two hours five minutes and seven seconds (02:05:07) driving a Ford Fiesta.
Speaking to Nampa after the race, driver van Niekerk paid tribute to his navigator Houghton and their team for helping him win the race that he described as tough because of the challenges they faced on the various stages.
No one has won this race three times in a row and I am happy we have achieved this. It was tough with the roads and obstacles, and the pressure from other drivers, but we were eventually successful.
Namibians can be proud of themselves for hosting such a challenging rally, said van Niekerk.
His two previous victories were in 2013 and 2014. Last year's rally was declared null and void following disputed results after alleged irregularities by some drivers.
Driver Wilro Dippenaar and his navigator Riaan van der Westhuizen, both Namibians, came second in a time of 02:05:33, while the third place went to Jaco Redelinghuys and Dries Booysen, also Namibians, who came home in a time of 02:10:18.
Chairperson of the organising committee, Anja Lingner said she was satisfied with the outcome of this years competition, although interest from the drivers and spectators was not as huge as last year because of a low budget following the withdrawal of Total as the main sponsor.
Everything went well as we did not face any major challenges. All the challenges we faced, we managed to solve them as soon as we could, Lingner said.
This was the 48th edition of the rally and next year, the organisers say, will be a trial run for the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2018.
The Tara Rally is Namibia's longest-running international sporting event having started in 1969.