Not only are Shameer Variawa and Zaheer Bodhanya South Africa’s first crew of colour to tackle the Dakar, but the VMR Red Lined Nissan Navara duo has every possibility to keep the Dakar Rooke award firmly in Msanzi’s grip despite veteran racer and multiple former SA off road special vehicle champion Variawa not being under any illusions.

Motorsport runs deep in the Variawa family – a South African clan of Indian origin. Shameer was inspired by his father, while both of his kids are leading kart racers and he has raced in all form of off-road around the world over a quarter century, but the Dakar has long been on his bucket list.

Variawa travelled to Peru and followed Dakar 2018; came up with a 5-year plan and forged an alliance between his Shameer Variyawa Racing and Johannesburg-based experiential motorsport experts, Red Lined Motoring Adventures. Together the team developed its brand new V8-powered T1 class Nissan Navara complete with independent rear suspension and a full composite body; water-cooled brakes, Reiger suspension and Motec electronics.