2008 12 08STRONG SOUTH AFRICAN NISSAN PRESENCE IN 2009 DAKAR RALLY
A total of four South African-built Nissan Navara off road racing pickups will contest the 2009 Dakar Rally, which starts in Buenos Aires (Argentina) on January 3 and follows a 9 574-km route through Argentina and Chile before finishing in Buenos Aires on January 18. All the Navaras have been built in the Midrand workshops of Nissan Motorsport under the direction of general manager Glyn Hall for privateer customers.
Hall, who oversaw his Sasol-backed team win their eighth successive drivers’ and co-drivers’ championships in the Absa SA Off Road Car Championship last month, will be acting as team manager of the privateer Team Overdrive of former Dakar star Gregoire de Mevius of Belgium. He will be assisted by three members of his technical team, engineer Michael Jardim and technicians Wimpie ‘Mac’ Botha and Rocco Hendricks, all of whom have previous Dakar service support experience.
Norwegian adventurer/entrepreneur Ivar Erik Tollefsen and Briton Quin Evans, who competed in this year’s Absa SA Off Road Car Championship as part of the works Nissan SA team in a customer Navara, will be driving their Nissan for Team Overdrive in their third Dakar Rally together. Their best result to date is 16th in 2005.
Tollefsen is a legend in his country for his mountain climbing exploits and polar expeditions and has been competing in the Absa SA Off Road Championship for the past two years in preparation for the Dakar.
Krzysztof Holowczyc of Poland and Jean-Marc Fortin of Belgium will be in their second Dakar in their SA-built Team Overdrive Navara. Their best previous Dakar result was 32nd in 2005. Holowczyc is a multiple Polish rally champion and a former European rally champion. Fortin is a seasoned World Rally Championship co-driver, having competed with various top drivers, including Holowczyc, from 1990 to 2005.
Reigning Hungarian cross country rally champions Laszlo Palik and Gabor Darazsi will be competing in their SA-built Palik Racing Team Navara. Palik is a motor sport icon in his country – he is president of the Hungaroring grand prix circuit organisation, promoters of the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix, and has been a grand prix commentator for 19 years. He has been competing in the Dakar Rally since 2002 with a best result of 18th in 2005.
The fourth Nissan Navara will be driven by Belgium’s Jacky Loomans and Marc Lauwers. It was shipped from South Africa to its new owner in October and was the 20th off road racing Nissan exported by Nissan SA since 2001.