TOTAL Rally - History
History of Team TOTAL (1996 – 2012)
What is Team Total?
The humble acorn grows into a mighty oak. So, too, did Team Total find its origins in humble beginnings. Created in 1996 as a vehicle for encouraging privateer rally drivers, Team Total is a unique privateer sponsorship programme in South African rallying that has enjoyed spectacular success.
Today, Team Total is a major force in the MSA National Rally Championship with four sponsored privateer crews in two of the four classes.
Total first became involved in rallying in 1957, when the oil company first sponsored the Total Rally, organised by the Pretoria Motor Club. This event grew into what was arguably the premier rally in
Total withdrew its sponsorship of this event in 1977, as a result of the fuel crisis, and transferred its interest to the Total Economy Run. Then, in 1991, Total returned to rally sponsorship when it once again supported the Pretoria Motor Club Rally.
By now Total had established itself as an event sponsor and there was an unwritten policy not to sponsor individuals. At around this time an organisation called the National Rally Competitors Association was trying to encourage privateers to enter more national championship rallies. The NRCA approached Total for assistance and the company established a petrol fund to assist privateer rally teams.
In 1993 the late Brian Duncan, then in retail market development, assumed responsibility for this initiative. He was later to become Total's sponsorship and motor sport manager and oversaw the growth of Team Total into the considerable force it is in national championship rallying today.
Team Total really came into being as an entity after Total withdrew its sponsorship of three rounds of the national rally championship (Tour de Total in
Etienne Lourens was the first official Team Total driver, competing in the team's now familiar red and white colours in 1996. The following year he was joined by Barry Grobbelaar, and in 1998 the team grew to include seven crews (Lourens and co-driver Robert Paisley, Grobbelaar and Mike Burrows, Craig Trott and Brian Duncan, Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries, Gys Kleyn and Carolyn Swan, Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen, and Dean Sanders and Graham Hooper).
Five of the crews finished the season in the top 10 and the team took the top two places in the closely contested and prestigious Gp N championship, where all four Team Total crews finished in the top seven.
Total-supported privateers Hannes Grobler and Dave McGregor won the Gp N championship in their Nissan Sentra and were victors in class N3.
1999 turned out to be Team Total's best year to date. Five out of eight possible championships and six crews in the top 10. Damseaux and Arries won class A6, Visagie and Swan won class N1, Sanders and Hooper won class N2 and Total-supported privateer Grobler (partnered by Nic Hadden) won class N3 as well as the overall Gp N championship for the second year in succession.
In 2000 Team Total consisted of Lourens and Paisley in a class A6 Toyota Corolla, Damseaux and new co-driver Johan Klaasen (also in a class A6 Corolla), Trott and new co-driver Gerhard Bezuidenhout, Grobler (now partnered by Duncan), Sanders and Hooper, Visagie and Swan and Schalk Burger junior and Greg Godrich.
This time it was Sanders and Hooper who emerged as overall Gp N champions (Team Total's third in a row) while winning class N2 in their Toyota Corolla. Grobler and Duncan won class N3 and were second overall in the Gp N championship, while Visagie and Swan won their second successive class N1 title and were third overall in Gp N.
The long serving Lourens and
Team Total also won the inaugural Almick Sponsors' Challenge, awarded to the team sponsor (other than a motor manufacturer) with the most points scored by all his entries combined.
The team enjoyed another good year in the dirt in 2001, but their success was overshadowed by the untimely death on September 20 of Brian Duncan after a short illness. He and his long time friend Hannes Grobler had had a frustrating season in their class A7 Nissan Sentra, so it was a fitting end to the season when Grobler, partnered by Francois Jordaan, won class A7 (finishing fifth overall) and dedicated their victory to Duncan.
Sanders, partnered by Ashley Gericke, narrowly lost a third successive class N2 title with a mishap on the last event of the year.
Visagie and Swan contested the new class A5 in a Toyota Tazz and were almost invincible, winning seven of eight events and taking their third successive class title together.
With five of the six Team Total cars being
In 2002, Team Total consisted of Lourens and new co-driver Andre Vermeulen in a class A7 Toyota Corolla, Damseaux/Hooper and Trott/Bezuidenhout in class A6 Toyota Corollas, Visagie and Swan in their class A5 Toyota Tazz, Sanders and Gericke in their class N2 Toyota Corolla and newcomers Vusi Mabanga and Yende in a class N1 Toyota Tazz.
The biggest change in Team Total came at the end of 2005, when the size of the team was increased from six to 13 crews.
Last year there were 12 Team Total crews. Highest-placed finishers in the championship were Jean-Pierre Damseaux/Cobus Vrey (9th overall and sixth in their class S2000 Toyota RunX), Fernando Rueda/Gerhard Snyman (11th overall and third in the Production Car category and class N4 in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) and Etienne Lourens/Andre Vermeulen (12th overall and eighth in class S2000 in their Toyota RunX).
Chris de Witt and Dean Redelinghuys were second in class A7 in a Toyota RunX, Rodney Visagie and Arno
In class A6, Craig Trott and Carolyn Swan (Toyota RunX) won from team-mates Salie du Toit/Gert Janse van Rensburg (Toyota RunX). Eugene Lourens was fourth in class A6 in a Toyota Conquest, while Vusi Mabanga was fourth in class A5 in a Toyota Tazz. Lola and Megan Verlaque were sixth in class N4 in their Subaru Impreza STi
In 2008, Team Total remained the biggest privateer team in national championship rallying, with eight crews contesting each of the six classes.
Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Cobus Vrey scored their first overall win in the S2000 Team Total Toyota RunX in the Cape Swartland Rally on their way to seventh in the championship.
Chris de Witt and Dean Redelinghuys won the class A7 title with four wins in the eight rounds in a Team Total Toyota RunX
A strong two-car entry in class A6 saw reigning champion Craig Trott and new co-driver Tony Ball win a second championship for Team Total in a Toyota RunX, ahead of team-mates Mohammed Moosa and new co-driver Grant Martin in a Toyota Corolla.
Vusi Mabanga and Shaun Visser contested class A5 in a Team Total and finished fifth.
In the production car championship, Fernando Rueda and new co-driver Gert van Rensburg in their Team Total Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 and sisters Lola and Megan Verlaque (the only all-woman crew) in a Team Total Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 finished third and eighth in class N4, with Rueda scoring a class win in the season-opening Tour Natal Rally.
Rodney Visagie successfully defended his class N3 title Carolyn Swan in a Team Total Toyota RunX.
With the exception of the Verlaques, all the members of the team returned for the 2009 season. Damseaux and new co-driver Andre Vermeulen had a tough year, finishing just three rounds with a best result of second overall on the Rally of South Africa.
Rueda and Cobus Vrey made their S2000 debut in a Team Total Toyota RunX with a best result of fifth in the season-opening Total Tour Natal Rally.
De Wit and Redelinghuys finished third in class A7 after a frustrating season in which they were bedevilled by mechanical problems. Moosa and Martin pipped team-mates Visagie and Swan to the class A6 title (between them they won seven of the eight rounds). Trott and new co-driver Robbie Coetzee were third, making it a Team Total 1-2-3.
Mabanga and Visser made encouraging progress in their second season together, recording their first class win in round three.
Trott and Robbie Coetzee ensured that a reduced four-car Team Total finished the 2010 season with a championship win when they took the 1600 cc title in their Toyota RunX in the final round of the championship in the Toyota Dealer Gauteng Rally.
Damseaux, paired with Swan, was second in the privateers' championship in the class S2000 Team Total Toyota RunX..
Moosa and Grant Martin stepped up to the premier S2000 class in a Toyota RunX and finished 14th in a season dominated by the seven factory cars from Volkswagen and
Fernando Rueda and Dave Lewkowicz, competing in their last rally together following Rueda's decision to retire at the end of the season, finished 12th in S2000. The Spanish-born Rueda's successful career in rallying in
For the 2011 season, the four-call all-Toyota Team Total squad contested Class S2000 and Class A6. The eight-event South African Rally Championship saw Team Total win stages, Class victories in the Two Wheel Drive Championship and outright podiums. For Class S2000 crews Mohammed Moosa and Jea-Pierre Damseaux, half-way through the season they upgraded their Toyota RunX S2000 to the mighty Toyota Auris S2000, the latest iteration of Toyota's motorsport engineering. This quickly saw the two crews snapping at the heels of the factory Toyota and Volkswagen teams.
Craig Trott, in his 15th season with Team Total in 2011, claimed runner-up in the Two Wheel Drive and Class S1600 Championships, after claiming a number of strong points finishers throughout the season.
Joining Trott and his co-driver Robbie Coetzee was the all-female crew of Stefanie Botha and Angela Shields. In a tough season in their first full season at National level, the pair bravely fought their rivals but mechanical reliability robbed them of converting their pace into Championship points.
For the 2012 season, Team TOTAL remained largely unchanged. Jean-Pierre Damseaux was joined by co-driver Grant Martin in the Team TOTAL Toyota Auris S2000, while Mohammed Moosa was accompanied by Andre Vermeulen who rejoined the squad after a three-year rally hiatus. Craig Trott and Robbie Coetzee did battle in their Team TOTAL Toyota RunX S1600 alongside the Team TOTAL Toyota RunX of Stephanie Botha and father Willem Hugo.
Once the dust from the challenging eight rounds of the 2012 South African Rally Championship settled, Team TOTAL had much to celebrate. Damseaux swept to a fantastic third position overall in the Toyota Dealer Gauteng Rally and a string of top five results, with team-mate Moosa snatching fifth overall in the Polokwane Rally and a number of top five overall results too. Craig Trott and Robbie Coetzee were crowned the Two Wheel Drive Drivers and Co-Drivers Championship trophies, giving Trott his eighth class championship in his rally career. Coetzee also won the Class S1600 Co-Drivers title.
For 2013, Team TOTAL focuses its energies on three crews: Jean-Pierre Damseaux and new co-driver Hilton Auffray, Mohammed Moosa and Andre Vermeulen, and the final crew is Craig Trott and new co-driver Janine Lourens. The 2013 South African Rally Championship consists of eight rounds, kicking off with the TOTAL Rally on 8 – 9 March.