Two months of testing the off-road driving skills of nearly 500 entrants in the elimination rounds of the 2012 Amarok Spirit of Africa Trophy competition have come to an end in the Kondowe private nature reserve in Limpopo. The top 20 teams of two will contest the finals over four days in southern Namibia from 8-11 August 2012.
The finalists emerged the victors from 24 groups of 20 teams who travelled to Kondowe, 65km from Phalaborwa and close to the western boundary of the Kruger National Park, to compete in the two-day challenge.
The top-scoring finalists were the husband and wife team of Piet and Madeleine Kotze of Olifantshoek, winners of the trophy in 2007 and 2009. Reigning champion Christiaan Otto of Bultfontein, winner in 2010 and 2011, finished fourth with wife Chane.
The overall winners of the 2012 Amarok Spirit of Africa Trophy will receive a cash prize of R50 000. The runners-up will receive R30 000 and third place is worth R20 000.A more technical challenge
"It's been a long and dusty process, but we're happy to have completed the elimination rounds without any major incidents," said Spirit of Africa Trophy founder and convenor Sarel van der Merwe.
The former national rally and circuit racing champion, who also made a name for himself in international sports car racing and won the 1984 Daytona 24 Hour in the US, said he was satisfied with the results of the first half of the eighth Spirit of Africa Trophy.
"I set out a more technical challenge than in previous years and the contestants, many of whom have been with us before, welcomed this. The standard of driving was very high and we were pleased to welcome a lot of new, younger competitors.
"This was the third year we have used the Volkswagen Amarok and the first time we had the single cab 2.0 litre TDI version. It has proved to be a more than capable vehicle under very testing conditions and its overall performance impressed everybody and we experienced no major mechanical problems at all."
Van der Merwe also paid tribute to the Goodyear Wrangler AT/SA tyres fitted to the 23 Amarok bakkies and supplied by co-sponsor Goodyear.
"This tyre, which features SilentArmor Technology, has been specially developed for South African conditions and delivered a reliable and impressive performance throughout the two months without any failures."