ROB HOWIE Navigator
Rob Howie was born on December 7, 1972 and after completing his schooling in the Johannesburg area, he went on to complete a National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering.
Born into a family of motor racing enthusiasts, he didn’t waste any time getting involved in the sport. While still completing his diploma in 1995, and at just 23 years old, he was tasked with running a two-car Group N team for Robbie Smith and Geoff Goddard, two top names in that form of racing at the time. A first season highlight was 4th overall in the 1995 Kyalami 9-hour race – the last time this famous event was run.
The following year, Howie joined multiple former circuit racing champion Peter Gough to run his WesBank Modified car and Historic Porsche 911. In 1997, he joined forces with Nic Jooste, the man behind Duncan Vos’ success in Touring Cars. Together they moved away from race-car preparation into the specialised field of race-car fabrication and component manufacturer. Together they became the “go-to” people in this field as all the manufacturers migrated from the ultra expensive imported Touring Cars to locally built vehicles.
Howie honed his ample skills in vehicle fabrication and went on to join Glyn Hall where he was responsible for vehicle fabrication and component manufacture in the programme that would see the first South African built vehicles compete in the Paris Dakar race in 2002. For the 2003 and 2004 Dakar events he worked as a lead technician in the operation – notably for Giniel de Villiers in the 2004 event. In 2005 he was the lead technician on the South African championship-winning Super D production class vehicle driven by Duncan Vos.
At the beginning of 2010, Howie moved across to Castrol Team Toyota with Glyn Hall. His areas of speciality are chassis construction, manufacture of suspension and exhaust components, and all the complex hand-made parts that go into a successful competition vehicle.
He started competing in the Absa Off-Road championship in 2008 together with Thomas Rundle halfway through the season in Class E. For the 2009 season he joined up with Leeroy Poulter and scored two class wins (Class E). He teamed up with Duncan Vos in the premier Super Production class in a Castrol Team Toyota Hilux in the 2010 season. They finished third after winning the Carnival City 400 and finished on the podium in three other events.
In 2011, he and Vos finished runners-up in the championship with two wins, in the Atlas Copco 400 in KwaZulu-Natal and in the Sun City 400 in North West.
In January 2012, he and Vos competed in their first Dakar Rally, finishing a remarkable 10th overall in their South African Toyota Hilux.
They went on to win the 2012 Absa South African Off-Road Championship in their Castrol Toyota Hilux, the same vehicle in which they contested the Dakar. It was Vos’ fifth title and Howie’s first and brought the championship back to Toyota for the first time since 1999.
He and Vos competed in their second Dakar Rally together in January 2013, but were forced to withdraw after the third stage while lying 12th as a result of damaging their roll cage in a roll. They finished third in the Donaldson Cross Country Car Racing Championship (the new sponsor and name of off-road racing) behind team-mates and new champions Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy.
Howie competed in his third successive Dakar Rally in January 2014 as co-driver to rookie Leeroy Poulter in an Toyota Imperial Hilux. They finished a creditable 33rd overall after leading the opening special stage before finishing ninth and claiming third place on stage three to place in the top 10. Shock absorber problems on stage four dropped them back to 29th and a roll and a broken wishbone dropped them to 33rd on stage nine. In 2015 the pair returned to Dakar, and improved to 16th overall. They also teamed up for the 2014 Donaldson Championship, and are doing so again in 2015.
Howie is married to Amanda and has a son, Duncan (10).