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Spirit of Amarok 2018: VW's new pickup competition in Africa

Spirit of Amarok 2018
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D as the participants had imagined a little differently. It had started raining at midnight and has not stopped since. On the morning of the last day of the competition, heavy rain falls on the lined up armada of Amaroks, the temperature of eight degrees also depresses the mood. In the days before, South Africa had shown itself from its best side in spring October, the mood and temperatures were steep. But now on the last day of the competition, the departure of the starting field has been delayed, the organization has to check individual sections of the daily standings for their drivability, the continuous rain has turned some off-road passages into slippery slides.

This is what the German teams do It's all about the whole: Sebastian Orgis and Martin Straßburger from Stuttgart as well as Attila Burk and Mischa Hageloch from Leipzig are the candidates who compete against teams from all over the world at this year's “Spirit of Amarok”. You still have a good chance of finishing in the front rows of the ranking, competing with 18 other teams from nine other nations.

Stephan Lindloff
Sebastian Orgis and Martin Straßburger from Stuttgart as well as Attila Burk and Mischa Hageloch from Leipzig were the German participants.

Spirit of Amarok 2018

Spirit of Amarok - this is still a relatively unknown topic for German offroad fans. Founded as 'Spirit of Africa' ​​and largely carried out by the South African rally legend Sarel van der Merwe, the competition was originally a purely South African event. After thisVolkswagen South Africa came on board as the main sponsor, at some point the head office in Hanover also began to prick up the ears - thanks to the VW the competition vehicles, now renamed the“ Spirit of Amarok ”, should become international. For the first time in 2018, ten nations from Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa competed where the national teams had to prevail in elimination competitions. There were around 4,000 applicants for the German events.

And now: rain in South Africa. But now the scouts are back, report the participants. Two very fast stages have to be taken out of the daily classification, too dangerous on the icy surface. But the rest can be counted, departure. The convoy starts moving, a few minutes later the competition area is already there. As in the previous days, there are several daily ratings on the program, each with different demands. Skill tests alternate with team spirit challenges, fast rally stages with difficult off-road use in trial style.

Competition in South Africa

Equal opportunities for the material - all participants start on current, identical equipped VW Amarok V6 - is with one However, details are not quite guaranteed: in South Africa there is left-hand traffic, the Amaroks are accordingly right-hand drive. A home game for the teams from southern Africa and Australia, but the 'left-hand drive' players are a bit strange. You have to know that in practically every driving competition, limiting rods are used as in the trial, these are set quite sporty depending on the task. With full attack with ten centimeters left and right on the exterior mirrors, a handicap for someone who is driving a car on the right-hand side for the first time.

The cross-country competitions also make it clear why the ' Bakkie 'pickups are part of everyday life. The cars have to withstand kilometers of slopes in a sometimes challenging condition, but also rugged terrain and tricky rock climbing, while at the same time bridging the vast distances in the country as comfortably as possible - from the metropolis of Cape Town to this year's 'Spirit of Amarok' camp near Mbombela, for example almost 1,800 kilometers on the way.

The real pickup country

At the, it shows that the Amarok, with its well-tuned chassis and extremely enjoyable three-liter V6, is a really good choice Event again. Not only the excellent suitability for the slopes, also the wide awake for quick overtaking maneuvers, but otherwise only leisurely strolling around have an extremely stress-reducing effect,especially in connection with the view from the cabin. Shortly before the start of the summer rainy season, nature seems to be stretching its muscles and preparing for the coming weeks, the jacaranda season, which lasts only two weeks, has just begun and is painting the landscape with bright purple blossoming trees.

For the competitors, actually taking part in the Spirit of Amarok in the immediate vicinity of the legendary Kruger National Park is already the main prize, because the winners are primarily looking for fame and honor, no special monetary or material prizes are awarded. In addition, the winners are no longer allowed to take part in a follow-up event in order to guarantee subsequent amateur teams equal opportunities. The fact that on the day after the cheerfully celebrated award ceremony (places 1-3 went to South Africa, Australia and Botswana, Germany took sixth place) a final excursion through the huge national park was an extra bonus especially for the European participants /p>

Stephan Lindloff
On the slopes through the Kruger National Park, you can be prepared for deer crossing in XL format.

New invitation to tender starts in February

VW wants to hold the Spirit of Amarok competition again in 2019. It is not yet clear which countries will participate. Applications for the German competitions will be possible at www.spirit-of-amarok.de, the application period is expected to start in February 2019.

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