Nissan Trio Joins Africa Heritage Fia Rally

By: RyanThomas

A trio of Nissan crews has intimated their stirring desire to enter the African Heritage ring in the Eastern Cape from July 27 to 30. The African Heritage race is round two of the FIA Cross Country World Cup and round five of the Absa Off-Road Championship.

Norwegian driver Ivar Tollefsen and British co-driver Quin Evans have entered the FIA event in a Nissan Navara factory. They will be joined by South Africans Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzar in the Century Property Development Nissan Navara.

The crews intend to compete in the 2008 Paris Dakar. For Corbett and Balzar it will be their first try at the classic FIA event. Another South African crew, consisting of Henri and Maurice Zermatten, has joined the African Heritage on an invitation basis. They will campaign the Ryobi Nissan Hardbody but will not be eligible to score points towards the World Cup.

The three Nissan crews join the X-Raid BMW team in the African Heritage Cross Country event. The organizers are also awaiting an entry from a top Italian team, and are expecting around 70 entries for the FIA race.

Tollefsen and Evans have been competing this season in the Absa Off Road Championship. At present, they share third place in the overall production vehicle standings with Castrol Toyota crew Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin.

The Nissan Navara was built at the automaker's SA's motorsport headquarters in Midrand, and the pair has been using the SA championship as preparation for the marathon classic. The Navara is a pickup built by the Japanese automaker since 1986. The pickup is equipped with a number of notable firsts in the compact pickup market. Aside from this, the and other auto parts also are commendable. In the process, they have etched a solid mark in the history of the auto industry.

"South Africa has probably the strongest domestic off-road championship in the world," said Tollefsen. "The terrain for your events is varied and highly challenging, the racing is highly competitive and the events are professionally run and of a high standard. It is the ideal preparation for the Paris Dakar, and Quin and I wanted to fully familiarize ourselves with the Nissan Navara. The help and co-operation we have had from the Nissan motorsport people has been fantastic, and we are thoroughly enjoying South Africa."

After a non-finish in the opening event of the season in the Western Cape, the Tollefsen/Evans combination has been radiating consistency. So far, they have come up with solid finishes in the other three events run this season.

"I think a little local knowledge might come in useful," said Tollefsen. "Quin and I are familiar with South African conditions and how your events are run, and that might give is a slight advantage. From what we have heard through the grapevine the route is going to be stunning, and we are looking forward to the experience."

The prologue for Absa Off Road Championship competitors and Stage 1 of the international African Heritage Cross Country will start at 12h00 in Bisho and will finish at the Fish River Sun. Round five of the Absa Off Road Championship and Stage 2 of the World Cup event will be run over a 500 kilometre circular route in the Amatola Mountains on July 28. On the day following, Stage 3 of the African Heritage Cross Country will start and finish at the Fish River Sun, along with the Stage 2 route run in reverse. Stage 4 of the World Cup will start at the Fish River Sun on July 30 and will finish in Bisho.

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