The deal is seen as the continuation of a partnership which is unique to South African motor sport, formed two years ago between Absa Vehicle Finance, Ford, Nissan and Toyota, to ensure that the championship would be well funded.
It would also enjoy significant terrestrial and satellite television coverage on SABC 3 Sport and Supersport respectively, and would be professionally promoted.
"Our involvement in off-road racing has been carefully evaluated and we are satisfied that it has delivered a significant return on our investment," says Keith McIvor, general manager of Absa Vehicle Finance.
"Furthermore the opportunity to be closely associated with Ford, Nissan and Toyota has been mutually beneficial in the past, and will continue to be so in 2004."
MSA Off-oad Car Racing Commission president Piet Swanepoel welcomed the news, which is regarded as a major endorsement for what has become the premier category of motor sport in South Africa.
"Off-road racing has gone from strength to strength and we are heartened by the continued support of Absa Vehicle Finance, Ford, Nissan and Toyota," says Swanepoel.
"Entries for the season opening Nissan Dealer 400 in Darling on March 19 and 20 are up from 42 in 2003 to over 50 this year, which is a sure sign that the marketing efforts of our sponsors and the commission are paying off."
Ford, Nissan and Toyota management were unanimous in their support for Absa Vehicle Finance's ongoing sponsorship of off-road racing and pledged to continue with the joint marketing effort aimed at popularising the sport.
The Absa Off Road Championship will be widely publicised and enjoy extensive television coverage on SABC 3 Sport and Supersport in 2004.
Ten slots have been secured for "Inside the Absa Off-Road Championship", which will be broadcast after Formula 1 Qualifying on SABC 3 Sport with repeats in High Octane Motorsport on Supersport.
A further 10 52 minute slots which will feature a season preview, a season review and event highlights, will be broadcast in High Octane Motorsport and a variety of stand-alone slots on Supersport.
The Absa Off-Road Championship will receive over 100 hours of terrestrial and satellite television coverage in 2004, which will be a major boost for the factory and privateer teams participating in the championship," says Swanepoel.
The Absa Off-Road Championship gets underway with the Nissan Dealer 400 in the Western Cape on March 19 and 20 followed by the:
Nissan Sugarbelt 400 in the Pietermaritzburg area on May 23 and 24;
Toyota 1000 Desert race in Botswana from June 11 to 13;
Sun City 400 in the Pilanesberg on July 23 and 24;
Queen Motor Spares Tarka 400 in the Queenstown area on August 20 and 21;
Oven Fresh Biscuits 500 in the Mmabatho area on September 24 and 25;
Toyota Dealer 400 in the Lydenburg area on October 22 and 23;
Carnival City Casino 400 in the Brakpan area on November 19 and 20.