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Motorsport profile: Off-road champion Henk Lategan

CHARMAINE FORTUNE

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team driver Henk Lategan might be the youngest driver in the SA Cross-Country Series to have won the 2019 Overall Production Vehicle and Class FIA championships in only his third year of National Cross Country racing but he has other successful strings to his bow.

Lategan competed in his first Regional rally at 15 with his father Hein, accomplished motorsport personality, past track-champion, rally driver, and Cross Country competitor, reading the notes.

HENK LATEGAN. Image: Nadia Jordaan

The youngster told The Corner in a special profile piece: “My passion has always been rallying – one of my motorsport heroes is nine-times World Rally champion Loeb.

”In 2015 I was privileged to compete in the Monte Carlo Rally during which Sebastien made a rare appearance – he had retired after the 2012 season.”

YOUNG DRIVER ‘WILD CARD’

During the next five years Henk progressed through the ranks of National championship rallying with navigator Barry White, competing in S1400, S2000 Challenge and the premier S2000 classes for modified, non-turbo, all-wheel drive cars with an engine capacity not exceeding two litres.

The (2013) he was selected as a wild card for the elite Young Driver Excellence Academy run by the governing FIA which provided a fully-funded training programme to help young drivers develop their motorsport career while developing safety skills and promoting safety, fairness and responsibility – on- and off-track.

RALLYING IN EUROPE

He also that year joined the Sasol VW Rally team alongside Enzo Kuun and Hergen Fekken. Later he was joined by the (now late) Gugu Zulu and Thilo Himmel.  When VW withdrew from rallying at the end of 2015 Henk took a sabbatical from SA motorsport.

“I had the opportunity to compete in a number of WRC and international rallies across Europe. ”I never thought I would become a cross-country racer but when offered the opportunity to race a Class T Ford Ranger with Neil Woolridge Motorsport in 2017 I grabbed it with both hands.

2018 – A NEW CHALLENGE

”It was a huge learning curve and I instantly realised the importance of stamina, focus, and teamwork. I was extremely proud to finish sixth in the Overall Production Vehicle standings and fourth in Class T behind team-mates Lance and Gareth Woolridge in year one.”

LATEGAN AT SPEED. Never mind the weather!:Image: Nadia Jordaan

2018 delivered a new challenge: he joined the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team led by Glyn Hall, paired with multiple SA Navigators’ champion Dennis Murphy. It was cut short when Rob Howie (another multiple SA Navigators’ champion) and Giniel de Villiers’ navigator, sustained a back injury during the 2018 Qatar Rally.

CHAMPIONSHIP WIN

Barry White stepped into the breach alongside Lategan and they won the 2018 FIA Class championship by one point from reigning champions and team-mates De Villiers/Murphy.

It was evident that Lategan had adapted well  to cross-country racing…

Henk, now 25, and his wife Inante, live midway between Johannesburg and Pretoria with three-month-old Heinrich jnr.

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