Jayden Els wins Dakar 2024 registration in TGR 1000 Desert Race

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Credit: Schalk Burger Motorsport

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


ClassOverall FinishNumberDriverCo-DriverTeamVehicleTotal Time
T12T16Hendrik Du PlessisHenrich Du PlessisHenrich Du PlessisFord Ranger12:55:45
T1+1277Gareth WoolridgeBoyd DreyerNWM Ford Castrol TeamFord Ranger T111:14:33
T15300Eben BassonLeander Pienaar#TeamHilux Rally RaidToyota Hilux11:53:01
A13A07John ThomsonMaurice ZermattenJohn ThomsonZarco Challenge13:01:54
G14G02Geoff MinnittRodney BurkeHydro Power EquipmentCan-Am Maverick13:44:13
P15P63Quentin LessingBrendon SmithQuentin LessingCRT14:25:18


ClassNumberRiderTeamTotal Time
Adventure Bikes16Ross BranchHero MotoSports11:02:11
Adventure QuadsN/ANo FinishersN/AN/A
OR1 (Open)333John KellyGaborone Motor Club12:20:10
OR2 (250cc)N/ANo FinishersN/AN/A
OR3 (200cc)316Hanif SankwasaGaborone Motor Club11:35:56*
OR4 (Senior)948Motswetla CharlesTeam Jwaneng Racing9:04:37*
OR6 (Ladies)101Elang ChibanaGaborone Motor Club9:40:25*
OR7 (High School)238Euan HarmseGaborone Motor Club12:37:28
Q2 (Open)821Mohammed Bilal ShariffGaborone Motor Club12:35:59
Q3 (Masters)21Kgosi TsogangOrapa Desert Rats7:53:52*
Q4 (Ladies)24Tapiwa KhwaraeGaborone Motor Club10:08:25*
* – Did not complete full distance
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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