Bearings and rotating technology specialist, SKF has, through its separate Racing Division, been a global sponsor of motorsport for many years, offering bumper-to-bumper solutions, from products and technical assistance to design and manufacture, for vehicles and motorbikes in on- and off-road disciplines.
Gary Czapski, SKF Sales Manager – Automotive and Commercial Vehicles (VSM) Southern Africa who is an ardent motor racing enthusiast, has spearheaded numerous local SKF motorsport sponsorships over the past eleven years. But SKF South Africa’s proud history with Glyn Hall, Director of Hallspeed (Pty) Ltd. and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Team Principal, goes back even further, straddling more than two decades.
“There is no doubt that establishing a solid long-term partnership with our customers is central to a successful and sustainable sponsorship that adds value for both parties,” states Czapski. “There are few environments that present as many tough challenges as motorsport. Off-road racing is particularly harsh with jarring terrain, rocks, dust, and mud relentlessly testing the performance, strength and durability of vehicles and components to their limit.”
SKF has been supporting the gruelling Dakar Rally since 2012, when the Dakar Hilux placed 3rd overall. SKF has since been part of several more podium finishes – another two overall 3rd places, four overall 2nd places and overall top honours in 2019 for Qatari driver Nasser Al Attiyah and French co-driver Mathieu Baumel. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s remarkable Dakar record continued in 2021, with the same duo placing 2nd overall and team De Villiers/Haro finishing in 8th position overall. Al Attiyah and Baumel are also champions of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies (2016 and 2017) and the Rally of Morocco (2016, 2017 and 2018) with De Villiers/Haro taking top honours in 2019.
“When we are designing any part of the race Hilux which requires a bearing or seal application, SKF is always our first choice,” states Hall. “The SKF catalogue is on every engineer’s computer waiting as a reference. We know when we use SKF we have the quality and dependability we need. We follow the SKF design criteria always, we then know the application will work properly.”
The Toyota Hilux’s engine, gearbox, driveline, differential, exhaust, as well as the vehicle’s steering and suspension systems are fitted with SKF products including deep groove, needle roller, cylindrical roller and tapered roller bearings, rod ends as well as high pressure wiper seals and grease and lubrication solutions. “We even supply radical spherical bearings and seals for the hydraulic jack,” adds Czapski.
“Vehicle reliability is paramount to racing success and here product quality is fundamental,” stresses Czapski. “This is where SKF’s automotive product portfolio takes the lead, delivering best-in-class performance and reliability across all motorsport disciplines.”
SKF has maintained the longest running technical partnership with Scuderia Ferrari in Formula One and Czapski predicts that motorsport sponsorship will continue to remain an important aspect of SKF’s business activities. “Our participation presents us and our customers with mutual advantages. Customers benefit from innovative improvements and developing new cutting-edge products channelled from the knowledge we gain from long-term technical partnerships with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing for example. And from SKF’s perspective, motorsport extends our brand visibility and presents a platform that showcases the outstanding quality, performance and reliability of our products and technical capabilities.”
SKF’s mission is to be the undisputed leader in the bearing business. SKF offers solutions around the rotating shaft, including bearings, seals, lubrication, condition monitoring and maintenance services. SKF is represented in more than 130 countries and has around 17,000 distributor locations worldwide. Annual sales in 2019 were SEK 86 013 million and the number of employees was 43,360. www.skf.com
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