During the ’70s, the most prominent international rally in South Africa was the Total Rally, inaugurated in 1957, organised by the Pretoria Motor Club and eventually included in the list of qualifiers for the FIA Cup for Drivers, the trophy which was awarded before the World Rally Championship for Drivers was established.
Among its international line-up have been crews from Ford, Peugeot, British Leyland, Chrysler, GM, Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen and others.
Many of the world’s leading drivers and co-drivers took part in the event, and everyone enjoyed both the unique style of this no-practice rally and its extremely enjoyable social background. Sponsored by Total, the French petroleum company which is very prominent in South Africa, the rally was eventually discontinued when the sponsors felt that their term of backing should come to an end.
We are pleased to say that the Total Rally has now been revived, with its original sponsors and organising club, and it remains to be seen whether it will achieve the same prominence as its forerunner. Last October, the event was held over 30 special stages, totalling some 310 stage miles, running with just a three-hour break in the 32hour event which started at Pietersburg and finished at Kyalami.
In recent years, a great deal of hogwash has been written, broadcast and televised about South Africa, much of it biased comment and some even by people who didn’t know the country at all. Resisting the urge to put records straight, we won’t dwell on this, but we have to say that our experience of the country is considerable and that its rallying has always been open to all.
October’s Total Rally was won by SA veterans Sarel van der Merwe and Franz Boshoff in a Ford Laser 4×4, two minutes ahead of Hannes Grobler and Douglas Judd in a Nissan Sentra 4×4. Of the 51 starters, only 14 finished, among them Patrick Njiru and Sunnder Thatthi from Kenya, who were 10th in their Nissan Sentra.
We look forward to the readvancement of this tough and enjoyable event. Who knows, perhaps it might even join the list of World Championship qualifiers, although we earnestly hope that by that time FISA’s policy of enforced standardisation will have been replaced by the common sense which we trust will prevail following Max Mosley’s election to the chairmanship of FISA.