“A family dream to get to the Dakar”
Family and friendship is the base of Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer’s story on the Dakar. The two South-Africans met when they were still in high school and became best friends from then on. And that friendship was reinforced by their common passion for motorsports. Both started on bikes but it’ll be in a very competitive Ford Ranger T1+ that they will live their Dakar dream. It actually won’t be the first time Woolridge shows up on the Dakar. He first visited with his father and brother back in 2012 and returned as a mechanic two years later working on the Ford Ranger, already, of Lucio Alvarez. Since then the 29-year-old has been designing and building the T1+ version of that vehicle in the workshop of NW Motorsport, his father’s company based in Pietermaritzburg. A project that later was boosted by the partnership with M-Sport, the team that helped Sebastien Ogier conquer two of his 8 WRC titles in a Ford. On the next Dakar, alongside prestigious team mate Nani Roma (winner of the Dakar in 2004 on a bike and in 2014 in a car), Woolridge and Dreyer will be hoping for a strong finish before going for the big trophy in the year’s to come. And who knows, maybe one day they’ll come back on the rally on bikes! Time will tell.
G.W.: “My grandfather used to be in track racing and my dad rode bikes before building his first car, so my brother and I have been involved in motorsports from as far as I can remember. It’s my ultimate passion.
The fact that I’ve been building the car makes a big difference. I know it inside out. I was able to test in Dubai back in October (2022) and in Morocco (with Nani Roma). I’ve been lucky enough to compete in the South African cross-country championship and was able to judge my pace against the likes of Giniel De Villiers and the Toyotas. Nani (Roma) has mainly been helping me mentally. He helped with the driving in the dunes. For 2024, the main goal is to finish. Of course I would like a strong finish. The plan would be to do similar than Lucas Moraes (3rd last year as a rookie). But I’m not going to be a hero. I need to learn and I’ll push harder as the days go by. Ultimately the goal is to win it. My brother and I work in the family business and I hope that he can one day do the Dakar too. My father and him will be onsite. It’s really been a family dream to get to the Dakar”.
B.D.: “Gareth and I became friends in high school. I come from bikes but I also used to drive a buggy. In 2013, Gareth asked me to be his navigator and we’ve raced every race together since. I’ve been dreaming of the Dakar ever since I’ve had an engine between my legs. The dream was to do it on a bike but I couldn’t miss out on this opportunity to do it in a car. Maybe I’ll do it on a bike after winning several times in a car. It’s always been a passion. It ticks every boxes. What worries me about this Dakar is probably the Empty Quarter because I have no experience in cap navigating. We’ll need to work as a team and we’ll be pushing for a strong finish. I think the biggest challenge will be the mental state. In the South-African championship people talk of us as a married couple but it won’t be easy leaving home especially after the birth of my first son in October. I hope to win it in the next 5 or 10 years. The car is great. It’s better than a Toyota (he laughs). My family is super excited about this Dakar. My father had tears in his eyes when I told him I was going. It’s a dream for both of us.”
- Mark FORD
- Model RANGER
- Performance tuner NWM Sport, M-Sport
- Assistance NWM Sport, M-Sport
- Class T1+: Prototype Cross-Country Cars 4x4
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