TIGERS take top honours in hotly contested competition
From Left standing: Brian Rengasamy (Business Development Leopard Idemitsu), Peter van Mosseveld (RMI), Alton Beckman (Port Rex), Tjaart van der Walt (3rd), Johnathan du Toit (1st place), Cliffie Jacobs (MIWA), Ashley Tom (3rd), Jason Bekker (Port Rex) and Riedwaan Naidoo (National & Regional Sales Manager OEM/IBMO). Kneeling from left Tim Kerby (Port Rex), Teresa Spenser Higgs (MIWA) and Vincent Krouse (MISA).

Emotions were high and talent in abundance as eight young contestants from Port Rex Technical High School in East London and a team of four from Daniel Pienaar Technical High School in Kariega battled it out on Saturday 15 June 2024, to see who the winners in this year’s highly contested Motor Mech Competition would be held at host school, Port Rex.  The show is run in collaboration with the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI). 

Competition was fierce but at the end it was young Tiger Johnathan Du Toit from Daniel Pienaar Technical High that scooped top honours setting a new benchmark for these talented young competitors. Second, third and fourth place were all taken by Port Rexians with Tjaart van der Walt (2nd), Ashley K. Tom (3rd) and Liqhawe Skepu (4th) taking top positions.

Teresa Spenser Higgs, Regional Vice Chairperson for the Eastern Cape for MIWA), who arranged the show with fellow MIWA Training Representative Cliffie Jacobs and Peter van Mosseveld says, “We are incredibly proud of all the competitors for their enthusiasm and determination. This competition not only highlights their technical skills but also their potential to lead the future of the automotive industry.”

Each year, Jacobs designs the tests for the students and since this is the third year, he was determined to change things up a bit.  “Having incorporated Bosch diagnostics and ATE brakes in the show was something different and unique this year. It is interesting that we could see those students with a mechanical background, for example having a family working in the motor trade, were at an advantage to the other students competing. It was great to see some very bright minds at work,” he says.

Zikhona Seti, a guest facilitator for the day and a qualified mechanic herself and lecturer at the local Buffalo City TVET College says she was delighted to be invited this year as she is in fact lecturing one of the past Motor Mech competitors.

Commenting on the standard of skill of the competitors, Seti says despite the students being understandably nervous, she felt they were well trained and knew their work and all had a very positive attitude.  She was particularly impressed with the female competitors who worked really fast and definitely knew what they were doing as well as Johnathan who worked with a hearing disability. “He worked so hard and ended up winning showing a disability is definitely not an obstacle if you have the confidence.”  Seti says she would like to see the Colleges also being as proactive as MIWA holding market days and going out to the schools to show the students what courses are available. “It is not just about having dirty hands. If you are a motor mechanic you will never sit on the road, you will always have a solution.

Spenser says this was her third year arranging the show and the fifth show that she has assisted with. “This year the weather did not play ball so our visitor numbers were reduced but this show is so much more than just feet through the door – it is for the youth - the future of our industry. It is about that little child that looks around and says “Mom & Dad I want to go this school when I’m older “ or the student that contacts me and asks to job shadow during the holidays , or the smile on that winners face and I know I have a future

mechanic  -  it’s all about inspiring just that one person to choose a career path in our industry,” she says.

Brian Rengasamy, Business Development Executive at Leopard Idemitsu who produce one of the world’s pioneering Japanese Engine Oils, agrees saying as a proud RMI  member they are privileged to be integrally involved with the Motor Mech competitions around the country which are all designed to develop the motor Industry sector into an innovative and sustainable sector by adding value from grass route levels in education and training.  “This ensures that we jointly build a sustainable and successful pipeline of future leaders in this extremely lucrative motor industry sector,” says Rengasamy.

Leopard Idemitsu proudly sponsored first prize for this year’s competition providing one tool cabinet with 207-piece tools valued at R12 950 as well as a 63 piece tool set in a pink aluminium case for the highest scoring female participant prize which was awarded to  Simangile Mahanjana.

A huge thank you too to the Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA) who sponsored a 165 piece toolset for second place and  a 77 piece toolset for third place. Other key sponsors included Bosch who sponsored the final diagnostic section and the light bulb section of the competition. Special thanks to Ronnies who sent their staff to judge the first section of the test to identify a part and to ATE who sponsored the braking section of the test and donated brake models and tools to Port Rex. Also to HP Marketing and McDonalds for bringing their Café Trailer to the show and for sponsoring much needed coffees and snacks on the day and for providing our contestants with burgers.

Shows like this would not be possible without the team effort of everyone involved including the many exhibitors. Peter van Mosseveld- RMI Regional Manager could not agree more. He thanked Teresa and Cliffie and Port Rex High School for the excellent work that they have done to make this a very successful event. He also thanked the RMI members for exhibiting their vehicles and the part suppliers for exhibiting at the Motor Mech Show. Thank you to all that donated prizes and well done to all the participants in the Show and competition.

With so much activity it is difficult to single out any one particular activity but the simulator designed by Cliffie’s Auto Repairs was definitely a highlight as were the many exhibitor stands which provided a great overview of what the industry has to offer.

“We were very grateful to the SPCA for manning our children’s area and we know any funds raised will be put to great use.  A last thank you to our prize sponsors for their generous support and to all of our exhibitors and last but not least our competitors who battled it out so courageously. You all have bright futures and we can’t wait to welcome you into our workshops,” concluded Spenser Higgs.