Geoff Minnit & Siegfried Rousseau About



June 18, 2021

The best time to tick off a Bucket List item, is now and that is exactly why the veteran South African cross country competitor and businessman from Plettenberg Bay, Geoff Minnitt, has decided to enter the 2022 Dakar Rally with a Can-Am Side-by-Side (SxS) vehicle.

Minnitt has teamed up with the experienced navigator, Siegfried Rousseau, who will be reading the notes and their main aim – other than to enjoy the experience – is to reach the finish line at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on 14 January 2022.
For the 44th edition of the Dakar Rally, that is scheduled to take place from 2 to 14 January 2022, Saudi Arabia will again be the hosting country for the third consecutive year. The race will start in Ha’il and will finish in Jeddah after almost two weeks and about 10 000 gruelling kilometres. The organisers foresee a sandier challenge than before and it will be “dunes galore” in the wide open spaces of the Empty Quarter in the southern part of the country.
Minnitt has been competing in the cross country championship for almost 40 years and started out competing with a motorcycle in 1982 before he moved to the car category doing duty as a navigator for various drivers since 2000. His list of racing adventures includes six outings to the gruelling Desert Race in Botswana of which three were with a motorcycle while he has also tackled the arduous Roof of Africa in Lesotho four times with his motorcycle and twice as a navigator returning once with the silverware of a memorable victory.
Desert racing is also quite a special form of racing for Rousseau who started participating in 2004. Rousseau navigated Shameer Variawa to three consecutive Toyota Desert Race 1000 victories in Botswana and has won the Dakar Challenge in 2014 together with Gary Bertholdt. The team could however not make use of their free entry into the 2015 Dakar Rally, but experienced the 2014 Dakar Rally in South America as spectators.
After years of navigating in the SA National Cross Country Series (SACCS), Minnitt decided to take on the local 2021 season with his Can-Am Maverick SxS in Class G of this championship in the Special Vehicle Category while Rousseau navigates for his longtime friend and experienced driver, Gary Bertholdt, in the FIA Class of the Production Vehicle Championship.
Minnitt and Rousseau have however been friends for many years and share the same outlook on a balanced lifestyle. Sharing the same views, that also includes a lifelong desire to participate in the Dakar Rally, is an important trait when deciding on embarking on an adventure that will not only include extremely tough racing, but challenging conditions where grit, determination and perseverance are tested to the limit.
There are two classes for SxS vehicles, better known internationally as Light Weight Vehicles (LWV) in the Dakar Rally and Team Minnitt and Rousseau will be entering in the class for standard LWV’s where the standard items on the vehicle include the engine, belt drive and shocks. The South African company, WCT Racing, designs and develops the frame of the LWV while the chassis is being manufactured by South Racing in Europe.
At the Dakar Rally earlier this year, South Racing has entered twelve LWV’s with all 12 the vehicles and teams reaching the finish after two weeks of racing. Team Minnitt/Rousseau, who will be the first team of South Africans to compete in the Dakar Rally with a LWV, believes that with their mechanical and technical knowledge together with the Can-Am’s abilities in the dunes, a finish medal at Jeddah is within their reach.
Minnitt and his current navigator in the SACCS championship, Gerhard Snyman, will be competing in the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGRSA) Desert Race 1000 this weekend (18, 19 and 20 June) at Upington in Northern Cape while Rousseau will be sitting next to Bertholdt in their FIA Toyota Hillux at this marathon event that will test competitors over three days and almost a thousand kilometres.
The TGRSA Desert Race 1000 forms the third round of the SACCS and also includes the Road to Dakar Challenge where the winning team will win a free entry into the Dakar Rally as well as 8 000 euros. Minnitt and Snyman have entered the Road To Dakar Challenge with Minnitt therefore standing a chance of winning their entry for the 2022 Dakar Rally. Competing in desert racing conditions will be valuable experience for both Minnitt and Rousseau who plan to also participate as a team with the Can-Am SxS in the Kalahari Rally in September.
The Kalahari Rally takes place from 3 to 10 September and will cover a total of 3 400 kilometres over seven stages in the Northern and North-West Provinces. This event will serve as another perfect opportunity for Team Minnitt/Rousseau to not only gain even more seat-time in desert racing conditions, but to race together as a team. The team also plans to do more testing before embarking for the Dakar Rally towards the end of December.
Published by: Elza Thiart-Botes (on behalf of Team Minnitt and Rousseau)

Picture Caption: Siegfried Rousseau (left) and Geoff Minnitt (right) with the Can-Am Side-by-Side they will be competing with at the 2022 Dakar Rally.