Conrad Rautenbach defends title (14-07-07)

Paul Nyakazeya
ZIMBABWEAN motor rally driver Conrad Rautenbach returned home to defend his twice-held title of Dunlop Challenge champion, as preparations for the 2007 running of the country’s premier motorsport event reach their final stages.
Rautenbach is at presen

t leading the FIA African Rally Championship drivers’ championship standings, well clear of his competitors, and needs only one more point from the remaining two rallies to claim the title and become the first Zimbabwean to do so since Abe Smit back in 1994.
On home turf he hopes to follow up successes in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya with a win that will secure him a podium place here and an international spotlight at the world championship trophy presentation ceremony in Monaco early next year, where he will stand alongside such notables as the Formula One champion and the World Rally Championship winner.
The remaining two rallies of the ARC are those in Zimbabwe and, next month, in Zambia and nothing could be more satisfying than for the “young gun” than to raise high the Dunlop Challenge trophy on home soil this weekend.
It is thought that on the field this weekend will be Zimbabwean, Zambian and South African participants, maintaining the Challenge’s status as an attractive international event.
Rautenbach has taken part in five African Rally Championship events leading up to the Challenge and has great success in his Subaru Impreza alongside co-driver David Senior including wins in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, a second place in South Africa and fifth place in Tanzania.
Added to that has been his determined participation in the Junior World Rally Championship, which has seen strong action on the international front.
It hasn’t all been easy sailing for the young Zimbabwean in the Junior World Rally Championship.
“We have had some really good positions in this, but then we have been hit with bad luck which hasn’t helped,” he said.
The rigours of the 2007 Dunlop Zimbabwe Challenge Rally come as nothing new to Rautenbach, or his family for that matter, as his father, Billy, has won it on five occasions and Conrad himself comes into this year’s event as the defending champion from 2005 and 2006, with participation for several years before those wins.
Billy would dearly love to see his son do two things win and African Rally Championship and better his own achievement of five Challenge wins.
With his father’s success in mind young Rautenbach said: “Well, he never won three times in a row, so that would be a feather in my cap!
“Seriously, though, I have a lot of respect for him as a driver and would love to win five times as well, and I know he would love me to do so, too.” Even though he is upbeat and confident, Rautenbach knows that anything can happen in a rally to throw even the most experienced and successful driver off course and out of the event.
With the chances of the 2007 African champion emerging from Zimbabwe’s rallying community at this weekend’s rally, the event is lining up to be a superb motorsport activity with a large support base from home spectators.
The 2007 Dunlop Zimbabwe Challenge Rally will take place from tomorrow to Sunday.
The spectator events include super special stages at Donnybrook tomorrow (starting from 2pm) and on Sunday (starting from 10am).

PREPARATIONS for next month’s fifth edition of the Sarpcco Games are said to be well on course with all members of the Zimbabwean team for the regional police sports event already in camp at Domboshava Training Centre outside Harare.
This year’s Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation Games will be held in Harare from August 13-23.
And according to one of the Games organisers, Brighton Mudzamiri, a Zimbabwean team of 200 athletes and officials “have now got down to business” and are intensifying their preparations for the event at Morris Depot in Harare.
“As part of our preparations (for these Games), a team of 200 athletes and officials is in camp at Domboshava Training Centre, some 30km outside Harare.
“However, all the training is being conducted at Morris Depot where a special programme for the athletes has been designed by our own qualified physical trainer Maraba Matenda,” Mudzamiri said.
This year’s Sarpcco Games will be open for six disciplines athletics, chess, darts, soccer, netball and volleyball (men and women) and all competitions will be held at Morris Depot with the exception of athletics, which will be held at the University Zimbabwe track.
Mudzamiri said all the 12-member countries of Sarpcco have already confirmed their participation at this year’s Games.
“Over 1 500 participants are expected to take part in this high profile regional police sporting extravaganza.”
Sarpcco is an organisation which is made up of police chiefs from 12 Southern African countries Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The organisation was formed in 1995 with the aim of preventing and combating identified transnational crimes such as illegal possession of firearms, drug smuggling, illegal dealings in precious stones, theft of motor vehicles and use of falsified documents.

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