After years of driving and navigating himself through the bush in his faithful singleseater LUK Truggy, the multiple former Class B champion last year decided to move into Class A in the Special Vehicle category in the Absa Off Road Championship. It was a move that finally saw Nel leave the navigating to a co-driver, but he and Peter Newbery found it tough going in the LUK Bosal Zarco.
But, despite a disappointing season, Nel is champing at the bit to do it all over again in the 2006 championship.
“This twinseater Class A provided me with a string of teething problems last year,” said Nel. “It was probably my worst season ever in off road, but I can’t wait for the new season to start.
“I am getting to grips with the more powerful car and do not regret making the switch to Class A. On top of that having a co-driver along for the ride is much more fun than racing on your own.”
But, before turning a wheel in this year’s championship, there was a setback for Nel. Pressure of work has forced Newbery to sit out the season.
“It was a blow for me,” said Nel, “because Peter and I settled down nicely towards the end of the season. He was very sharp and a pleasure to have in the car, and I am going to miss him.
“But the racing goes on and I have been lucky enough to persuade Johan Smalberger to join me this season.”
Another off road veteran, Smalberger for a couple of seasons sat alongside Cliff Weicheldt in a Toyota Land Cruiser. On the experience front Nel and Smalberger won’t be found wanting, and look like developing into a solid team.
“We have already done a regional event together and were shaping up nicely,” said Nel. “Johan and I are looking forward to having some fun and coming up with good results.”
One small detail also helped lighten Nel’s pre-season mood. He has been allocated A7 as his race number this season.
“Seven is my lucky number so all is well,” he chuckled.