The Spirit of Amarok is the only amateur 4x4 championship with international status. From behind the wheel of an Amarok, qualifying teams from around the world go head-to-head to determine who are the top amateur off-road precision driving champions.
Through a competitive selection process, off-roading enthusiasts are chosen to represent their country at this premier international final. Competitors test their mettle on a course designed by rally and track racing legend, Sarel van der Merwe, in the only 100% German-engineered bakkie: the Volkswagen Amarok.
This ultimate 4x4 driving challenge is named "The Spirit of Amarok" for good reason. 'Amarok' is the giant Wolf of ancient Inuit mythology. This is a very fitting symbol of the qualities of patience, strength and determination that the winning team must demonstrate to be named the toughest amateur off-road drivers in the world. The winners of the International Spirit of Amarok take home the coveted Wolf Trophy.
A series of challenging trails are mapped out with the express view of testing drivers and navigators to their limits, while demonstrating the Amarok and its outstanding attributes in the most unforgiving of environments. Emphasis is placed on speed and technical driving ability, as well as co-driving skills and team work.
During a speed challenge, contestants are required to drive a predetermined course in the fastest time possible while avoiding obstacles such as poles, or any other obstacle on the course. Points are earned based on time taken to complete the course relative to the other teams, e.g. 100 points goes to the fastest team, 90 points to the second fastest, and so on.
Technical competition stages are a measured course over challenging off-road terrain such as sand or rock. A specified time to complete the course is provided to contestants prior to the start of the event. Teams receive 100 points at the start of each technical course and points are deducted if the team touch a pole, need to reverse, or arrive outside the specified time window.
In addition to speed and technical driving tests, competitors will be required to complete other off-road adventure-related challenges as part of the competition such as timed tyre changing and vehicle recovery for example.
When the hard work and challenges of each day are done, contestants and guests of the International Spirit of Amarok are treated to culture-rich experiences of the host country. Southern Africa is proud to be the long-standing destination of choice for the International Spirit of Amarok with locations such as Kwalata Ranch in Botswana, Goerapan in the Kalahari and Alkmaar Farmstay in Mpumalanga.
Each location offers diverse and authentic themes to enhance the experience of both the competitors and guests.
The annual Spirit of Africa Trophy was created in 2004 by rally legend, Sarel van der Merwe, to give everyday drivers the opportunity to test their off-road driving skills in a competitive environment. When the Volkswagen Amarok was launched in 2010 it immediately became the official sponsor and vehicle of choice. Year after year, the Amarok has proven that it's tough enough to conquer the most demanding speed and 4x4 technical challenges that Sarel can devise.
Each year, qualifying finalists of the Spirit of Africa Trophy are chosen to represent their country in the International Spirit of Amarok. Open to any two-person team from Southern Africa, the Spirit of Africa takes place over no less than 25 grueling elimination rounds. The top scoring 20 teams out of the 500 teams that participate in the elimination rounds are invited to compete in the tough Final, where the fiercely contested Spirit of Africa trophy is awarded. To enter the Spirit of Africa Trophy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.spiritofafrica.info.
Sarel van der Merwe is a motorsport legend. He began his racing career in saloon cars and went on to win multiple championships in rallies and on the race track. His most notable achievements are winning the 1984 24 Hour Daytona race, placing third on debut at the 1984 Le Mans and winning the South African Rally Drivers Championship a record 11 times.
In 2002, Sarel was awarded the Motorsport South Africa Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the most versatile driver South Africa has ever produced, and the only obstacle that kept him out of Formula 1 was his imposing height.
‘Supervan’, as he is known by his fans, is an Amarok brand ambassador. The International Spirit of Amarok is plotted and closely overseen by him personally. From designing each speed stage, to setting the target time for every off-road challenge and planning the point allocation and deduction methodology, Sarel is the ultimate architect.