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Dakar daredevils

A TEAM of South Gippslanders will compete in the famous Dakar Rally offroad racing event in Peru, South America, from January 6.

The Riley Motorsports team will tackle 5000km of some of the toughest and remote country, with more than 70 percent of the race in massive dunes.

The team will feature driver Steve Riley of Nerrena and co-driver Trevor Hanks, formerly of Meeniyan. They will be joined by mechanics Ian Wilson of Jindabyne in New South Wales, Milton Hill of Poowong and Troy McAinch of Perth and formerly of Yanakie, and team manager Paul Borg, a teacher at Leongatha Secondary College.

Riley, a dairy farmer, is a former off road motorcycle racer and three times auto winner of the Australian Safari Rally.

This is his third Dakar Rally and he has previously raced in Peru, Chile and Argentina.

“I love the adventure and the places we see,” Riley said.

This year’s Dakar Rally will take place in only one country – Peru – for the first time.

The Dakar Rally will comprise of 10 stages and a rest day, starting and ending in the Peruvian capital city Lima, on January 6 and January 17 respectively. Riley said the Peruvian desert sand and dunes would play a decisive role in the quest for top honours.

The Riley Motorsports team transformed a VE Holden ute into a cross country rally car with a V8 engine with a four wheel drive transmission.

The team undertook extensive final testing of the ute at Bremer Bay in Western Australia, on the Great Australian Bight, in dune fields similar to what they expect in Peru.

Hanks said, “It was rough and tough testing but essential to familiarise and hone our driving skills for the required sand dunes. Learning to read the sand and the dunes in the Peru deserts is paramount.”

Riley is no stranger to long distance extreme cross country rallies, having competed in many national and international rallies on motorcycles in the late eighties up to 2000 with Honda Australia, before making a successful transition to cross country car racing with a Mitsubishi Pajero.

Riley has twice competed at Dakar as co-driver: in 2011 with the Cairns Coconut race team and again in 2013 with Isuzu Motorsports, finishing both times.

Riley was keen to compete in Dakar 2019 with his own team and own car. Only 30 percent of competitors typically finish a Dakar Rally.

He built the Holden ute to his own design in his workshop on his Nerrena dairy farm with the help of skilled friends.

“With some great Aussie parts and design, I hope we can finish the Dakar which is our ultimate goal,” he said.

Riley and Hanks will have the task of keeping the car going during the day and reaching overnight stops, where along with a crew of four mechanics and a service truck, they will carry out servicing and repairs as required.

Riley regularly competed against Peter Brock in the Australian Safari Rally. The pair often talked about competing in the Dakar in a Holden one day, but Brock was killed in an accident.

The Dakar Rally was originally started by Thierry Sabine, a French motorbike racer, who was competing on the 1977 Abidjan-Nice Rally when he lost his way.

Realising that navigating the remote sand dunes of a desert posed quite a challenge, he organised the inaugural event that left Paris in December 1978.

The Dakar Rally is named after the city of Dakar, the capital of Senegal in Africa, which was the original destination.

Riley’s team has been sponsored by SMS Mining Services, GiTi Tyres and SG Offroad.

Adventure bound: from left, Steve Riley of Nerrena and Trevor Hanks, formerly of Meeniyan, with the modified Holden ute they will race in the Dakar Rally, Peru.

Out there: from left, Steve Riley of Nerrena and Trevor Hanks, formerly of Meeniyan, in the ute they will race in the Dakar Rally, Peru.

Trialling stage: Steve Riley and his team tested their modified Holden ute in the dunes of Bremer Bay, Western Australia, prior to heading to Peru for the Dakar Rally.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=27018

Posted by on Jan 3 2019. Filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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