Mpumulanga: Off-road and rally talents merge

The off-road and rally fraternities will come together in a unique merger on the Toyota Dealer 400, round five of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, in Mpumalanga on August 23 and 24. The event will be jointly organised by the Motorsport SA ...

The off-road and rally fraternities will come together in a unique merger on the Toyota Dealer 400, round five of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, in Mpumalanga on August 23 and 24.

The event will be jointly organised by the Motorsport SA Off-Road Car Racing Commission and the South African Motorsport Club (SAM) in a move that could have long term benefits for off-road racing and rallying. SAM organise the hugely successful Sasol Rally, a round of the national rally championship, and the Toyota Dealer 400 will see a pooling of talents and resources from both camps.

Piet Swanepoel, president of the MSA Off-Road Car Racing Commission will be clerk of the course, and Willie du Plessis, president of the MSA Rally Commission, will act as deputy clerk of the course. Swanepoel is a former SA off-road and rally champion and the reigning FIA Africa Rally Championship co-drivers champion, while du Plessis has wide rally experience both as a competitor and administrator.

The Toyota Dealer 400 will be run in what was previously "rally country" and the location of the event breaks new ground for the off-road fraternity. A route that will be dominated by forest sections will also provide off-road competitors with something out of the ordinary.

"When the off-road commission decided to look at Mpumalanga for the Toyota Dealer 400, the logical step was to link up with du Plessis and his SAM organisation," said Swanepoel. "The Sasol Rally is a superbly put together event, and we felt that by pooling resources we could come up with something special.

"We are delighted to be working so closely with du Plessis and SAM, and the Mpumalanga event could emerge as a benchmark for off-road racing in the future."

Swanepoel added that the Sasol Rally drew huge spectator support from Mpumalanga and surrounding areas. The Toyota Dealer 400 will be based in White River, with the route dominated by forest sections.

"The success of the Sasol Rally indicates there is a huge interest in motorsport in Mpumalanga and surrounding areas," said Swanepoel. "We are confident the Toyota Dealer 400 will attract the same sort of following.

"Just as important is the co-operation between off-road racing and rallying, and this could lead to long term benefits for both codes."

With the Bankfin Off Road Championship entering the home stretch, the Toyota Dealer 400 will also be an important outing for teams and crews with championship hopes.

-msa-

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