Ter­ence Marsh

The Racer Life at the redline

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

Ter­ence Marsh has com­peted in na­tional off-road cham­pi­onship events for the past 17 years. But he is not only an ex­pe­ri­enced rally driver, he also runs a suc­cess­ful busi­ness that builds high-end, FIA-spec­i­fi­ca­tion rally and race ve­hi­cles for clients all over the world.

He is pas­sion­ate about the sport. So much so that he was in­stru­men­tal in cre­at­ing the so-called Celebrity Chal­lenge: a celebrity takes up the po­si­tion of a co-driver and nav­i­ga­tor in a na­tional cross-coun­try event to cre­ate more aware­ness about the sport of driv­ing ridicu­lously fast over very in­hos­pitable ter­rain.

Then there’s the ad­ven­ture mo­tor­bike trips, the Nis­san GT-Rs, and a whole lot more ac­tion. Let’s find out more…

When and in what did you learn to drive? And your first car?

I first learnt to drive in a VW Kombi of all things while the first car I ever owned was a 1 100cc VW Golf.

How did your in­volve­ment in mo­tor­sport come about?

As a young kid I raced mo­tocross and rode off-road mo­tor­bikes so it was a nat­u­ral tran­si­tion to four wheels for me many years later. As we say: ‘with age comes a cage.’

I was in­vited by a friend to test and ex­pe­ri­ence an off-road race­car and af­ter just 3km, I quickly re­alised that this was the ul­ti­mate test of man and ma­chine. I bought the car there and then and the rest, as they say, is his­tory.

Nowa­days you race Nis­san Navaras, and sell your ve­hi­cles to cus­tomers around the world. Do you build on or­der, or how does that work?

Our core busi­ness is the man­u­fac­tur­ing of our FIA-ap­proved Dakar ready race­cars which we mar­ket and sell around the world. Due to the lengthy man­u­fac­tur­ing process, we gen­er­ally try and keep one com­plete new car as well as a new chas­sis and plenty of spares in stock to meet the de­mands of the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.

You re­cently com­peted in the Tak­li­makan Rally in China. Tell us a bit more about that ex­pe­ri­ence.

It was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence which now sits very high up on my ad­ven­ture list. The Tak­li­makan Rally is what they re­fer to as the Ori­en­tal Dakar which had us race for 13 days and more than 6 000km across the Gobi Desert in the north­ern re­gion of China.

The ter­rain and cli­mate var­ied

through­out the event while my nav­i­ga­tor Ger­hard Schutte had to try read and un­der­stand a Chi­nese road book. The high­est out­door tem­per­a­ture ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing the event was 460C while our high­est cock­pit tem­per­a­ture recorded was 540C af­ter our air con­di­tion­ing failed dur­ing a stage.

I spent just over a month in China with all the pre-event test­ing as well as the race event it­self. It was a re­ally in­ter­est­ing time spent in a coun­try that is so vastly dif­fer­ent to ours, as well as hav­ing to adapt to the lan­guage and cul­ture dif­fer­ences. There were 133 race en­tries and we man­aged to fin­ish 12th over­all on our in­ter­na­tional de­but. It was an amaz­ing ad­ven­ture from start to fin­ish and given the op­por­tu­nity to do it again, I would be there in a heart­beat.

You take celebrity co-driv­ers in the lo­cal cross-coun­try cham­pi­onship. What’s up with that?

I have been com­pet­ing for 17 years and have par­tic­i­pated in more than 120 events in the na­tional cham­pi­onship. A few years back I de­cided to rather fo­cus on the mar­ket­ing of our sport lo­cally and move my per­sonal goals to in­ter­na­tional events into the fu­ture and so the Celebrity Chal­lenge was born.

It is a mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tive whereby we take a South African celebrity and train them to nav­i­gate and par­tic­i­pate in a na­tional cross­coun­try race. We then use var­i­ous me­dia chan­nels to share their story and ad­ven­ture as they are taken com­pletely out of their com­fort zones. It is ba­si­cally the ticket you can­not buy.

What are your fu­ture goals, and dreams?

Ul­ti­mately, I would like to com­pete in the Dakar, this has al­ways been my main goal. I would also re­ally like to com­pete in the Tak­li­makan Rally again as I think my strength is in the longer en­durance events where man and ma­chine are se­verely tested over a pro­longed pe­riod of time. In ad­di­tion to th­ese main goals, I would like to com­pete in a few events in both Europe and the Mid­dle East over the next cou­ple of years.

If money was ab­so­lutely no ob­ject and you had to put to­gether the ul­ti­mate team to win the Dakar over­all, who would get the nod?

The ul­ti­mate driver for the Dakar at the mo­ment is Stéphane Peter­hansel, while the ul­ti­mate driver into the fu­ture is Sébas­tian Loeb. The team prin­ci­pal would be cur­rent Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing team boss Glyn Hall and we would have an all-South African back-up team be­cause we have in­cred­i­ble peo­ple and skills in this coun­try as well as the right at­ti­tude and adap­tive na­ture for what is re­quired to take on the tough­est mo­tor­sport event on the planet.

Any ad­vice for a young mo­tor­sport en­thu­si­ast who is dream­ing about get­ting in­volved in cross-coun­try rac­ing?

Watch, learn and get your­self a nav­i­ga­tional seat as quick as you can as there is no faster and bet­ter way to learn as a young­ster than sit­ting in the hot seat. Once you have all the pieces of the puzzle, you can think about mov­ing across to the other seat.

And lastly, if money was again not a fac­tor, what would be your ul­ti­mate over­land rig?

My ul­ti­mate over­land rig re­mains one of our new Dakar V8 pow­ered Nis­san Navaras... they are just in­cred­i­ble ma­chines to drive and I hon­estly can­not think of a bet­ter and more ad­ven­tur­ous way to get across the coun­try.

Main: Ter­ence Marsh do­ing some low fly­ing in his com­pany Red-Lined Mo­tor­sport’s FIAspec­i­fi­ca­tion Nis­san Navara V8. Top right: Marsh is a bit of a mo­tor­ing junkie: if he’s not rac­ing a Navara through the bush or a GTR around a track, he takes in lesser-trav­elled tracks on his mo­tor­bike. Right: Marsh com­peted in the 2017 Tak­li­makan Rally in China. It was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, he says.

Ter­ence Marsh runs Red-Lined Mo­tor­sport, a com­pany that spe­cialises in build­ing in­ter­na­tional FIA- stan­dard Nis­san Navara V8 rally ve­hi­cles. He also dab­bles in many other mo­torised ad­ven­tures. Like spend­ing a month in China, rac­ing 6 000km across the Gobi Desert.

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