The History of Century Racing
The Early Days
Century Racing first started in 1996, with the SVM Jeep, driven by Mark Corbett, and his navigator, Juan Mohr. They rapidly became a force to be reckoned with, coming third overall in the Total Super Series of 1997. Next, they graduated to the Century Racing Raceco, finishing the Roof of Africa rally third overall in 1999.
The V8 Jimco
Early in 2000, they upgraded their vehicle to the V8-powered Jimco, dominating the National Off-road circuit and culminating in a spectacular overall win of the Roof of Africa Rally in 2000. Not only were they the only two-wheel drive vehicle to finish this grueling 1000km race, but they won by over an hour.
Super Truck Success
During 2001/2002 the Century Racing team competed in the production vehicle category, in a Century/Petronas sponsored Isuzu 4×4, in which they won a number of the national championship races, finishing second in the Production Vehicle National Championships in 2001/2002. Not only did they give all their D-class competitors a run for their money, but also became a serious threat to the super-trucks
2003 was a year of development for the Century Racing Team, with the building of a locally made class-A spaceframe with a super-powered V8 Audi engine, as well as the introduction of a second class-B spaceframe.
In 2004, the Century Racing team got two firsts, two seconds and a third, resulting in a second place in the overall national championships for special vehicles. Mark and Juan were also awarded a 1st and a 2nd respectively for drivers and navigators at the Absa off road racing awards.
In 2005, Mark missed most of the championship races due to business commitments but his father Ernest, in the class B special vehicle raced 5 out of 8 races, winning 1 race and finishing 2nd twice.
2006 saw the return of Mark in the driver’s seat. The new Nissan Navara arrived late in the year but did well in its first few races. That year will be remembered for Century’s entry in the UAE Desert Challenge in Dubai. Mark covered himself in glory by winning the prologue, beating the likes of Carlos Sainz, Jean Louis Schlesser and eventual winner Luc Alphand! They performed very well day after day consistently finishing in the top 10. Lying in seventh place on the second last day they were unfortunately involved in an accident putting them out of the race. It was a very successful race for the team, cementing the fact they can race against the best in the world; and beat them! Ernest, in the meantime back in SA, became stronger and stronger as the year went by, winning two back to back races (including the gruelling Lesotho race) and finishing three other races in second place. That tally allowed him to clinch the Class B championship and an entry into the SA record book for the oldest class winner in off-road racing.
Ernest decided to spend his well-deserved time off traveling in 2007 so didn’t race much. The new Nissan Navara was assembled in February and had its race debut in the Cape. Unfortunately, recurrent electrical problems meant that the first three races of the season were seriously compromised. Mark still scored a few podiums, with a solid 2nd place in the Toyota 1000 Desert Race. The car has been prepared for the Dakar rally in the final quarter of 2007 and hence hasn’t appeared much on the local racing scene. The car along with Mark, Francois and the team leave for Portugal to compete in the toughest race in the world, the Dakar Rally starting on 5th January 2008. Unfortunately the race is cancelled last minute because of possible terrorist threats.
Back on the local racing scene, the CR1 debuted in the 1st race of 2008, with very limited testing. The car was a radical departure from the current special vehicles, featuring 4wd, rear transverse mounted 2L turbo engine and double wishbone suspension at the rear. The car was never really a success due to big lack of reliability. Raw pace was above the opposition but the car never made it to the finish line that year despite almost winning the 2nd race of the season. Later on that year, building of the CR2 started, our own Dakar car, driven by Ernest Corbett. Under the skin the two cars carried a lot of common components such as the suspension system. The CR2 had a difficult start, rolling in its 1st test session, but going on to win the 1st race it completed, the Sun City 400 later that year
In 2009, the CR1’s turbo engine was replaced with a Nissan V6 3.5, and straight away reliability improved on the car. It didn’t show the same speed it did previously, but it could keep it up all day long. Carnival City should have seen it winning its first race overall after leading and dominating the whole weekend, until a small wire broke and the engine died 80km from the finish line. Many poles for both cars, but very few converted to wins.
2010 saw Mark have an up-and-down season, with two 2nd place finishes in Sugarbelt and Magaliesburg. He ended 4th in the class P championship and 9th in the overall Special Vehicle championship. Not where we wanted to be, but reliability issues stopped him on many occasions. Ernest announced his retirement after 8 years of racing. At 66, he was one of the oldest drivers, but still very competitive. His 2010 highlight was a 3rd place finish at the Sun City 400. Colin took over the CR3 from Mark in the later part of the 2010 season, sticking the car on Pole in the 1st race he entered with it. He repeated that 2 races later, but again reliability issues were the cause of much frustration after retiring in the lead.
CR4 Dakar Launch
The CR4 is launched in February 2011, with much R&D to complete, this is the car to compete in the 2012 Dakar race. With Mark piloting the CR4, the main aim was to see the car competing well and being reliable in the local racing season. Century Racing enters and begin preparations for the 2012 edition of the 9000km Dakar race to be held in South America. October 2012 sees the launch of the facelifted CR4 to the press and public. Along with a vast amount of spare parts, tools, and equipment, the CR4, service truck, and support vehicle are shipped over the Atlantic to be met by the team in late December.
South American Assailants
Corbett and co-driver Francois Jordaan conquered the world’s longest and toughest motor race at their first attempt together, finishing a remarkable 24th overall and second in class after 13 special stages. Mark Corbett pulled off a great achievement when he crossed the finish line of the Dakar Rally in the Peruvian capital Lima after the grueling 9000km race. The team completes and delivers their first CRX6 4wd prototype to a Russian client. Colin Mathews has a cracker of a season and is crowned class P champion in his CR3. The CR4 returns from South America and is raced locally by Mark. After being stripped down for Dakar spares the CR2 is once again rebuilt and races once more piloted by Ernest.
The team completes another two CRX6 race cars that are delivered to Russia and being raced in FIA races. The team begins construction on the CR5, an evolution of the CR4 using all the knowledge learned from Dakar 2012 to return with a stronger and faster car. Century racing continues to race in the local series with Ernest and Guy sharing the drive in the CR2, Colin in the CR3, and Mark in the CR4
CR5 Abu Dhabi Launch
A combination of years of research and development has been used to produce the ultimate 2wd Rally raid vehicle. The custom-made CR5 makes its international debut at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in April and has its goals set on a strong finish in the Dakar rally. Driver: Mark Corbett
CR-T Customer Launch
The 1st CR-T’s were built and became available to customers.
1st and 2nd place in the 2wd Petrol class (Class T1.2) – Below: Juan Mohr (Navigator for Mark)
CR6 Primal Production
Mark Corbett and Colin Matthews tackled the Dakar in the CR5’s. Mark came 17th Overall, Colin 37th Overall, being 1st and 2nd place in the 2wd Petrol class (Class T1.2)
The first CR6’s came into production from design concept to the 1st manufactured car.
CR6 Continued Success
The CR-T started becoming a great success being a very competitive Off-Road Car at an affordable price with low maintenance costs.
Triple Threat Talkimakan
Driver Luke Olholm from Australia made his international debut with Coconut Racing at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
3 new CR-6’s took part in the great Taklimakan Rally in China with our Chinese Customers.
Driver David Bensadoun from Canada took on the inaugural 2019 Dakar with ALDO Racing with the Century Racing CR-6.
Assembly began on the 10th CR6 chassis destined for Silk Way Rally 2019.