SA fend off 4x4 drivers from four nations
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.’
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.