Yesterday saw the start of a five-day international competition in South Africa, with 21 teams from seven countries – the UK, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Russia, Namibia and Botswana – battling it out to win the ‘Spirit of Amarok’ trophy.
The driving competition in Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Amarok pick-ups takes place from 14 to 18 August in the South African Kalahari desert, some 100 km northwest of Upington.
The 21 teams, each with one Amarok versus a lot of sand and dust, will take part in the international Spirit of Amarok challenge, the ultimate off-road challenge. Over five days, the two-man teams will take part in various trials and off-road rallies in the giant Goerapan salt pans, testing their nerves, driving skills and speed.
This is the first time that teams from seven different nations have taken part in the Spirit of Amarok in South Africa. Since 2004, amateur drivers have tested their skills off-road in the final in Africa, and since 2010 all participants have driven Amaroks. The Spirit of Amarok is the only international 4×4 off-road event for amateurs, though of course, all participants get professional tips as the inventor of ‘Spirit’, South African racing legend Sarel van der Merwe and his team, are always on hand.
Three people are representing the UK, who won their places through a series of driving events: Damian Law from Colne in Lancashire, Raffaele Chioetto from Borehamwood in Hertfordshire and Nigel Durbridge from Guildford in Surrey. They were put through their paces in the winter in the UK; the Kalahari may throw up some new challenges.
Marketing communications manager, Kelly McIntyre, said: “I’m excited to be sending a three UK teams to compete in the Spirit of Amarok competition for the first time. They’ve done really well to reach the final. They’ll have their work cut out in some pretty extreme conditions in South Africa, but we’re confident they, and of course the new Amarok, will be up to it. I wish them luck and look forward to hearing how they get on!”
The new Amarok was launched in the UK in December, with a new look, all-new interior and technology and powerful V6 engine.