Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done’.
252,500 spectators attended the 2019 24-Hours of Le Mans. Television coverage reached over 800 million worldwide, making it one of the top five sporting events in the world by most measures. 61 cars participated in the main event, operating on seasonal budgets as great as €100 million. But there is room, still, for a little nostalgia in such big-buck, high- technology motorsport, writes Greg Mills, particularly in an event with an unlikely South African connection.
By Greg Mills 17.06.19
Team Africa to Race at the Road to Le Mans, June 2019, advertising the Plight of the Pangolin
Team Africa is delighted to announce that it has been able to secure an entry into the prestigious Le Mans weekend. Greg Mills will be sharing a twin-turbo Bentley GT3 with the former F1 driver and Le Mans veteran Jan Lammers, who famously won the 24-hour race in 1988 for Jaguar, and has finished in nearly every one of the top-ten places in his distinguished career, certainly a good person to have on your side. As with Team Africa’s previous foreign forays, the team is reliant on a South African and Kenyan crew under the captaincy of former African rally champion David Horsey, and will be ‘dressing’ the car in the colours of the STOP! Poaching initiative.
Historians will remind that there is a longstanding and unique connection between South Africa, Le Mans and Bentley, given Woolf Barnato’s three-out-of-three victories in for the marques between 1928-30. The Barnatos of course made their fortune on the diamond-fields of southern Africa.
This entry would not have been possible without a large number of friends and sponsors who kept faith in the idea of an African team at Le Mans when it seemed a hopelessly wistful dream: Vipingo Ridge, Bruce Jack Wines, the Western Cape marketed by Wesgro, Matus tools, Richard Harper Logistics, Hollard Insurance, G&A Promotions, Castrol, Equalizer Agricultural Implements and Machinery, and the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, which is involved in a variety of anti-poaching initiatives.
The Team aims to assist in putting over a positive, ‘can do’ face of Africa to a different, large and diverse audience. Moreover, to turn this opportunity into something more than a motor race, it is advertising the cause of the fast-disappearing Pangolin, hence the Team’s new logo, which will be displayed on the Bentley.
The tiny Pangolin, with four species each in Africa and Asia, is the world’s most trafficked animal, its keratin scales (the material in fingernails) coveted in Chinese medicine. While nearly 70 countries are involved in the illegal trade world-wide, the largest source of this termite-eating mammal is from Africa. Seizures representing some 700,000 Pangolins were made between 2000 and 2018, according to National Geographic, but experts estimate that more than a million pangolins were poached from 2000 through 2013. All eight species are threatened with extinction, despite a ban on international commercial trade in the Pangolin.
The Team hopes that the Plight of the Pangolin will benefit from the spectatorship of 250,000 and 700 million or so television viewers that tune into Le Mans over the weekend.
For further details on Team Africa on the Road to Le Mans, contact Henry Sands at Henry.Sands@sabistrategy.com.
"US Army General Omar Bradley famously said “Amateurs study strategy; professionals study logistics”.
He’s absolutely right. But that truism makes little room for the emotional motivation to do things, aside from simply the need to get them done. It certainly does not explain why people set difficult, voluntary goals for themselves.
By Greg Mills for the Daily Maverick 11.07.217
Dave Brabham is the youngest son of the three-time World Formula One champion, Jack, the tough-as-nails Aussie and the first and, so far, only driver to have won the championship in a car bearing his own name.
David, now 52, says that the most difficult thing about the Le Mans 24-hour race “Is when you are driving at night and it’s raining. You can’t tell if the black patches on the road are dark tar or puddles of water.”
By Greg Mills for the Daily Maverick 18.06.18
" With faux leopard skin jackets and the large cheetah emblazoned on the bonnet of our Ginetta G55 racecar to highlight Motorsport SA’s anti-poaching cause, we, similarly, “talked African”. And, largely, we were. Gathered in the paddock of the Paul Ricard race-track in the south of France on the weekend of 16-17 July 2016 were seventeen South Africans, two Kenyans, three Brits and a Dutchman making up Team Africa Le Mans. Out of solidarity with our home base, we carried decals for the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency."
By Greg Mills for the Daily Maverick, 20.07.16
"David Horsey, 61, got into rallying in Kenya as a navigator for his brother. He soon shifted to the driver’s seat, finishing runner-up in the Kenya championship in 1983 in a Datsun 1300 bakkie, and winner of the African championship the following year in a Peugeot 504 bakkie. The top of the Anwar in his Mombasa dining-room is piled today full of Safari trophies. Greg Mills found out more."
By Greg Mills for the Daily Maverick 03.02.15
" The Team Africa Le Mans Ginetta G55 driven by South African racing legend Sarel van der Merwe, Le Mans 24-hour winner Jan Lammers and Dr Greg Mills finished first GT car home, second overall and won the Index of Performance in the South African Nine-Hour race at Killarney race track on Saturday 12 December 2015. This is their story. "
By Greg Mills for the Daily Maverick, 16.12.15