Multiple SA off road and rally champion Hannes Grobler plans to finish his remarkable 36-year motor sport career at the end of the 2012 motor racing season. He will make his final appearance in racing overalls, boots and gloves on November 24 at the season-ending eighth round of the Absa Off Road Championship.
“It’s time to hang up the driving gloves,” says the immensely popular racing driver, who is probably the world’s longest serving competitor in motor sport who is still a genuine contender for overall victory in a national motor racing championship.
“I still enjoy my racing,” he says with his ever present smile “but there comes a time when you need to spend more time with your family. I’ve been blessed with a long and enjoyable career, with more than my fair share of success. These last few years I have concentrated on helping RFS Motorsport to develop the BMW X3 into a competitive off-roader that can win any national championship event and also to help Christiaan and Henk gain the confidence to take over and win races for the team in the years ahead".
During his long and distinguished career Grobler has won two SA amateur rally drivers championships (1979 and 1980), two national rally drivers championships (in 1986 and 1991), two rally production car drivers championships (1998 and 1999), and four national off road drivers championships (1986, 2003, 2004 and 2006). He was awarded his Springbok colours for motor sport in 1987 and his National Colours in 1999.
“Mooi man!” as Hannes is fond of saying.
Unlike some other respected sports personalities, the irrepressible 57-year-old father of two daughters, Adelle and Nicolette, whose mother, Elmarie, he has been married to for 35 years, is not ending his career as an also-ran. He is still very much a contender for overall honours in the 4.8-litre V8 Retirement Fund Solutions Racing BMW X3 and respected as such by his peers. His most recent win with co-driver and long-time friend Hennie ter Stege, also a former champion, was in the final round of the 2011 championship in his sponsor’s own event, the RFS Magalies 400 in Gauteng.
Grobler is one of South Africa’s most loved and recognised sportsmen and his good natured and fun loving personality has enriched the sport he has dedicated himself to with distinction and created for him an army of devoted fans. Always professional in his approach to competition, but never forgetting that it is a sport and to be enjoyed, he is a tough competitor who doesn’t know the meaning of giving up.
His propensity to throw whatever racing car he is driving sideways whenever he passes through a spectator point illustrates his innate desire to be a showman, but belies his dedication and skill that has earned him more off road racing wins and fans in the last 12 years than any other driver.
There are five more rounds of the Absa Off Road Championship before Grobler hangs up his gloves and it would be a foolish punter who bets against him standing on the top step of the podium one more time and spraying champagne with his ever-present smile.
His next outing in the mighty X5-engined BMW X3 is on June 22, 23 and 24 in the famed Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, a marathon he has won a record six times, most recently in 2010.
STORY COURTESY OF Peter Burroughes Communications