In 1954 the French oil company, Compagnie Française des Petroles established a subsidiary, TOTAL Oil (Pty) Ltd, in South Africa. The new arrival on the scene was not given much of a chance of surviving. Yet it overcame many of the obstacles that were placed in its way, and today TOTAL South Africa (Pty) Ltd, as it is now known 50 years later, is firmly established here.
The new company was to make a major impact on a variety of markets and its innovative and creative way of doing things soon caught the eye. In 1957, three years after it was established and one year after it sold its first products in the country, it became a sponsor of motorsport.
Today, 47 years later, TOTAL is still one of the major and most respected sponsors of motorsport, and more specifically rallying, in South Africa. It is well known for its sponsorship of the TOTAL International Rally that started in Pretoria and finished in Lourenco Marques from 1957 to 1977.
It is also a fact that the TOTAL Rally, as it became known, played an important role in developing rallying, as we know it today. Crash helmets and safety belts were first used on the TOTAL Rally. After a long battle, newspapers were given the go-ahead to name the sponsors of motorsport events in their reports.
The TOTAL International Rally, that started as a regularity event, gradually also evolved towards including special stages that was to change the face of rallying in the country dramatically.
The TOTAL International Rally is being organised in the same spirit as the old "TOTAL Rally". Attention to detail, ensuring that it meets all the minimum standards required by the FIA, that it gets the best out of the competitors and above all, provide a major rally and motorsport spectacle for the thousands of rally enthusiasts that follow the event every year.