SA fend off 4x4 driv­ers from four na­tions

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

TEAM South Africa have suc­cess­fully de­fended their In­ter­na­tional Spirit of Amarok Tro­phy.

The 2016 com­pe­ti­tion re­cently took place north of Uping­ton in the un­re­lent­ing dunes and pans of the Kala­hari Desert.

Four­teen teams, from Aus­tralia, Botswana, Namibia, Rus­sia and South Africa, par­tic­i­pated in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion with each coun­try ex­cept Rus­sia be­ing rep­re­sented by three teams, each team com­pris­ing two peo­ple.

The par­tic­i­pants con­tested 30 stages (18 speed and 12 tech­ni­cal chal­lenges) over five days in Amarok Dou­ble Cabs. This year’s com­pe­ti­tion also in­cluded night stages.

Team South Africa amassed a to­tal of 4 890 points, fol­lowed by Team Namibia in sec­ond place with 4 263 points.

Team Aus­tralia (3 925) and Team Botswana (2 589) fin­ished third and fourth re­spec­tively, with new­comer to the com­pe­ti­tion Rus­sia end­ing on 1 125 points.

“The 2016 com­pe­ti­tion was very close. The win­ners were de­cided on the last day dur­ing the last five tech­ni­cal stages,” said Sarel van der Merwe, rally and track rac­ing leg­end and the host of the Spirit of Amarok com­pe­ti­tion.

Van der Merwe added: “Aus­tralia had a good team which fought hard against Namibia for the sec­ond po­si­tion. The Rus­sian teams bat­tled in the early stages be­cause of the driv­ing po­si­tion but im­proved once they were fa­mil­iar with the right-hand drive cars.”

The win­ning pair of the in­di­vid­ual cat­e­gory were Jaa­cie and Natasha Vis­agie of South Africa. They were fol­lowed in the sec­ond place by the 2015 win­ning team, Alywn and Me­lanie Jor­daan of Namibia. Juan En­gel­brecht and Eu­gene Thorn­hill, also of South Africa, com­pleted the top three.

“The Spirit of Amarok Tro­phy demon­strates Amarok’s off-road ca­pa­bil­i­ties and pro­vides con­tes­tants with an op­por­tu­nity to test their off-road driv­ing skills. For coun­tries such as Aus­tralia and in south­ern Africa, it is es­sen­tial to show and prove how much hard work the Amarok can take,” said Tar­ryn Knight, mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager at Volk­swa­gen Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles.

Knight added: “The com­pe­ti­tion also presents con­tes­tants with an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence off-road driv­ing at its tough­est.

“Five new coun­tries, in­clud­ing Ar­gentina and Ger­many, where Amaroks are pro­duced, have ex­pressed their in­ter­est in com­pet­ing next year. With 10 coun­tries look­ing to com­pete in 2017, this is sure to be­come a very in­ter­est­ing event to fol­low.”

‘With 10 coun­tries look­ing to com­pete in 2017, this is sure to be­come a very in­ter­est­ing event to fol­low.’

PHOTO: MOTORPRESS

Win­ners of the 2016 In­ter­na­tional Spirit of Amarok, Jaa­cie and Natasha Vis­agie (left) with Tar­ryn Knight (cen­tre), mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager at Volk­swa­gen Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles, and host Sarel van der Merwe.

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