The first of 25 groups of 20 competing teams in the 2012 Amarok Spirit of Africa event engaged low gear and set off to tackle the latest 4×4 off road driving challenge devised by the legendary South African motor sportsman, Sarel van der Merwe, in Limpopo last week.
The 20 teams of two will compete in the opening elimination round at Kondowe Nature Reserve, a Selwane community project in theLimpopobushveld near Phalaborwa. Once all 25 groups have completed the elimination process, on July 2, the top 20 teams as judged by Van der Van der Merwe will contest the finals inBotswanalater in the year.
It is the eighth staging of a unique event that combines off road driving performance with adventure, environmental awareness and community outreach.
“There are some changes this year in addition to the new venue,” said the multiple national rally and circuit racing champion and international sports car racer.
“Our objective has always been not only to provide a real test of man and machine in the toughest of African conditions, but also to explore some of the beautiful and more remote parts of our country while at the same time bringing economic benefits to the communities where we visit. In the process we have always emphasised the need to ‘tread lightly’ and shown proper respect for the environment.”
“Our regular competitors will find some changes to the format of the competition, which have made it a lot more technical. For them it will be like a brand new event.”
Van der Merwe pays tribute to the Goodyear Wrangler AT/SA tyres he has chosen, for the third consecutive year, to fit to Spirit of Africa’s fleet of Volkswagen Amarok 2.0 TDi pickups.
“We couldn’t have a better tyre for the testing conditions we’ll encounter during Spirit of Africa,” said the newly-published author of the book, “SuperVan and I”.
“These tyres are flexible, their tread is high, their grip is fantastic and they have been engineered and built to endure extreme terrains. The Wranglers have performed brilliantly in the past two events. I am totally confident that I can expect the same performance again.
“My relationship with Goodyear goes back to early racing days in the 1970s and we have been involved on the eco 4×4 side since 2000. I completely trust their Wranglers because I know the quality of their products is excellent.”
Goodyear was proud to continue to be involved with Van der Merwe and his Spirit of Africa off road driving challenge, said Lize Hayward, Goodyear’s Group Brand Communications Manager.
“The Spirit of Africa is a high profile and respected event with a strong focus on safety and environmental outlook. This and Sarel’s expertise and reputation make it is a perfect match with Goodyear’s market leadership in the 4×4 tyre segment. It’s a winning recipe,” saidHayward.