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Major honours for Nissan

2004-02-10 11:02

Glynn Hall (right) receives his trophy from MSA's Piet Swanepoel

Nissan's history in local motor sport dates back to the days when the company was known as Datsun, and early successes included their first South African Rally Manufacturers' Championship in 1973, repeated in 1974 and from 1977 to 1980.

Hennie van der Linde won the national saloon car championship in Nissan's from1984 to 1986, and in 1986 Nissan became the first manufacturer (and only one to date) to win both the national rally and off-road championships when Hannes Grobler, partnered by Piet Swanepoel, took victory in both disciplines.

Nissan Motorsport, under the leadership of Glyn Hall, won four consecutive South African touring car championships with the all-conquering Nissan Primera driven by Giniel de Villiers from 1997 to 2000 and three consecutive national off-road car racing championships from 2001 to 2003 with the Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody.

Dakar Rally

The success in the domestic championship of the South African-built Nissan Hardbody - the racing version has been designed and developed by Nissan Motorsport in Midrand - resulted in the team being commissioned to build two cars for the 2002 Dakar Rally, where they were run by the French Dessoude racing team.

In 2003, Nissan Motor Company in Japan officially entered the world?s toughest motor sport endurance event and the South African Nissan Motorsport team was entrusted with building and running three cars on the marathon event.

Giniel De Villiers finished a very creditable fifth in his first Dakar Rally in January 2003 with team-mate Ari Vatanen of Finland, a former world rally champion and Dakar winner, finishing seventh.

Both again represented Team Nissan in the 2004 Dakar Rally in January this year in brand new Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody pickups built at Nissan Motorsport's headquarters in Midrand.

Former world rally champion Colin McRae of Scotland and five times French rally champion Yves Loubet completed the four-car Nissan challenge.

As part of the preparation for the 2004 event, De Villiers competed in some rounds of the 2003 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup in his Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody, winning the ORPI Morocco Rally in June and giving Nissan its first ever victory in the Rally Raid series.

In the 2004 Dakar Rally De Villiers was again the top finisher in this elite company, surviving one of the toughest Dakars ever in seventh place and McRae was 20th

Nissan Motorsport also took two other awards at Saturday?s MSA banquet.

Hannes Grobler and Richard Leeke, who dominated the production vehicle category of the national off-road car racing championship in their Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody, were honoured as champion driver and co-driver respectively.

Nissan convincingly won the off-road racing production vehicle manufacturers' championship and motor sport manager Glyn Hall accepted the award on behalf of Nissan.

He paid tribute to the valuable contribution of the many privateers who raced Nissan Hardbody pickups last year.


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