As mentioned in the main article, the class T Atlas Copco VW Amarok was due to head to Botswana to compete in the most important cross country racing event of the year, the Toyota 1000 Desert Race.
A day after our test, the Amarok headed to Botswana. Gary Bertholdt and co-driver Phillip Herselman completed the 61km prologue sprint in sixth position overall, and fourth in Class T. The next day the team lined up for the first of two gruelling race days, to complete a total distance of over 900km.
Although the day started out well and the Atlas Copco Amarok was keeping up with the leaders, it went pear-shaped about 20km before the end of the day, when the Sadev sequential gearbox cried enough. Gary and his team set about trying to get the VW back on the road for the last day’s action and they managed to secure some welded gears to repair the ‘box.
So the race’s last day dawned. About 30km into the day’s second loop, and with the patched gearbox holding up, co-driver Herselman noticed flames leaking out from under the VW’s bonnet, and he immediately told Gary to stop. The lads got out just in time.
A fuel leak had caused a fire, and within seconds an inferno engulfed the Amarok. There was nothing Gary and Phillip could do but watch as the pristine rally bakkie was reduced to ashes.