Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Jayden Els wins Dakar 2024 registration in TGR 1000 Desert Race

Eighteen-year-old Jayden Els is heading to the Dakar Rally.

Els was the highest finisher in the TGR 1000 Desert Race among those in the Road to Dakar category, limited to those who have never run the Dakar Rally, which earned him and co-driver Elvéne Vonk free admission to the 2024 Dakar Rally. While he can also defer to 2025, he has elected to use his ticket for next year’s race.

Driving an SVR for King Price Xtreme, Els dealt with a multitude of mechanical issues including broken driveshafts and differential, which relegated him to twenty-fifth overall in qualifying. He finished tenth overall time-wise in the first day of actual racing, which he improved upon to sixth after a near perfect outing.

By the end, he was seventh overall and third in the T1 class.

“The first two days we broke 3 driveshafts and a diff part,” wrote Els. “However thanks to great friends who drove all the way to the boarder to bring parts the team was able to fix the car by pulling out a all nighter! The 3rd day went smoothly, [Vonk] was superb and made no mistakes which allowed us to take the Road to dakar prize!”

The TGR 1000 is the lone race on the Road to Dakar programme not part of the World Rally-Raid Championship, instead being the premier event for the South African Rally-Raid Championship. South Africa has one of the top domestic rally raid scenes, and Toyota Gazoo Racing—who sponsors the 1000—has won the two latest Dakar Rallies and the inaugural W2RC with their Toyota Hilux.

Ironically, Hiluxes failed to win the TGR 1000. Instead, Neil Woolridge Motorsport‘s two Ford Rangers T1+ finished 1–2 with Gareth and Lance Woolridge. Like Els, the Ranger T1+ will make its Dakar début in 2024 in partnership with M-Sport.

The 2023 Desert Race was the first in its traditional host of Botswana since 2019, having been moved to neighbouring South Africa due to COVID-19. Botswanan and W2RC contender Ross Branch claimed his eighth Desert Race victory on two wheels in the event début for Hero MotoSports.

The 2024 Dakar Rally will begin on 5 January. Others in 2023 to secure their Dakar spots via the Road to Dakar include Tobias Ebster at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and Francisco Alvarez and Sara Price at the Sonora Rally.

Class winners


Class Overall Finish Number Driver Co-Driver Team Vehicle Total Time
T 12 T16 Hendrik Du Plessis Henrich Du Plessis Henrich Du Plessis Ford Ranger 12:55:45
T1+ 1 277 Gareth Woolridge Boyd Dreyer NWM Ford Castrol Team Ford Ranger T1 11:14:33
T1 5 300 Eben Basson Leander Pienaar #TeamHilux Rally Raid Toyota Hilux 11:53:01
A 13 A07 John Thomson Maurice Zermatten John Thomson Zarco Challenge 13:01:54
G 14 G02 Geoff Minnitt Rodney Burke Hydro Power Equipment Can-Am Maverick 13:44:13
P 15 P63 Quentin Lessing Brendon Smith Quentin Lessing CRT 14:25:18


Class Number Rider Team Total Time
Adventure Bikes 16 Ross Branch Hero MotoSports 11:02:11
Adventure Quads N/A No Finishers N/A N/A
OR1 (Open) 333 John Kelly Gaborone Motor Club 12:20:10
OR2 (250cc) N/A No Finishers N/A N/A
OR3 (200cc) 316 Hanif Sankwasa Gaborone Motor Club 11:35:56*
OR4 (Senior) 948 Motswetla Charles Team Jwaneng Racing 9:04:37*
OR6 (Ladies) 101 Elang Chibana Gaborone Motor Club 9:40:25*
OR7 (High School) 238 Euan Harmse Gaborone Motor Club 12:37:28
Q2 (Open) 821 Mohammed Bilal Shariff Gaborone Motor Club 12:35:59
Q3 (Masters) 21 Kgosi Tsogang Orapa Desert Rats 7:53:52*
Q4 (Ladies) 24 Tapiwa Khwarae Gaborone Motor Club 10:08:25*
* – Did not complete full distance