2nd Darling Rally - Preview WP1

It is somehow fitting to see the second oldest motor club in South Africa organise the opening round of the Western Cape Rally Championship scheduled for Saturday 2 March 2019. Back in the 18th century some 29 farmers lived in an area named Groenkloof and the town of Darling was eventually established on the farm Langfontein in 1853. No, I am not a historian of note, you are welcome to find all this information on Wikipedia.

Sir Charles Henry Darling arrived as the Cape Lieutenant General in 1851 and then two Swedish settlers, Nils Georg Moller and G. Threnstrom established the Darling creamery in 1899, which lasted till 1950. From 1917 the annual Darling Wildflower show is hosted by the Darling Wildflower Society, making this 100 year old flower show something really special. In 1901 Veldcornet C.P. Hildebrand (from Lichtenburg, Transvaal) of the Maritz Commando was buried near Darling and in 1939 a granite needle monument was erected to commemorate the most southern penetration by a commando during the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War.

The Cape Peninsula Motorcycle Club was established in 1910 (cars were still something of a novelty at the time) and then became the Cape Peninsula Motorcycle and Car Club in 1920. Officially the oldest Car club in the Western Cape and 2nd oldest in South Africa their then 160 members hosted their first event as a 100mile regularity (at an average speed of 16mph) on 5 August 1912. (Would have loved to have seen a Model T sideways with a set of mud & snow tyres). Can you imagine what satarist Pieter Dirk Uys would do with this remark as Evita Bezuidenhout at Evita se Perron, just down the road in Darling?

In 1913 CPMCC utilised their club finances of 101 pounds 5 shillings to acquire a powerful electromagnet that was mounted on a cart and driven through the streets prior to events to pick up old nails and horse shoes which were causing punctures! Legendary motorsport personalities such as former SA Land Speed record holder, Vic Proctor Snr, and Henry “Fireworks” Pheiffer (father of Adrian Pheiffer) were members of CPMCC. Since 2000 CPMCC have been a fixture at the Killarney International Raceway.

William Bernard Bright (29 December 1943 – 7 February 2019) became a rallying legend in his own time as organiser and official and this event will serve as a tribute to someone who simply lived for the sport.

Sadly we have also lost Jean Mary Bailey (15 May 1950 – 31 January 2019) and she too leaves us with fond memories assisting many a youngster in understanding the rules and regulations as the Western Cape secretary of then AA Motorsport.

With so much history attached to the area it is fitting to celebrate their contribution at this event.

No other area in the Swartland can claim to have hosted a squadron of Lockheed B34 Ventura aircraft. 23 Squadron arrived at the Darling airfield in 1943 to assist in combatting the German U Boat menace and were involved in the eventual 11 March 1944 sinking of the 50 crew Tosi Taranto built Italian Luizzi class diesel electric Alpino Attilio Bagnolini Regia Marina submarine utilized by the German Kriegsmarine as UIT 22 off the Cape of Good Hope by No 262 Squadron RAF Consolidated PBY Catalina FP 279/D, piloted by Fl Lt Roddick as part of Operation Wicketkeeper.

Work on a new iron hangar started on 31 January 1944, on 12 April 1944 Ventura 6457 of 27 Squadron crashed into Dassenberg near Darling with the loss of six lives (the wreck recovered by 22 Sqn Puma 145 on 12 April 1988 – 44 years later) and then the Catalina’s ironically left Darling for Mtubatuba on 25 August 1944.

The“Somersveld” runway  becoming an emergency landing strip for nearby Langebaanweg. Records also show that Spitfire 5673 was the 8th type MkIX lost, near Darling, on 14 March 1951. On 8 November 1995 the first Pilatus Astra was lost over Somersveld when 2022 and 2018 made contact during a formation practice and on 17 October 1996 Astra 2054 made an almost perfect “emergency” landing on the gravel road just outside Darling.

Somersveld was constructed to serve as an alternate to training specifically the Circuits &Landings part of the syllabus. When the Impalas came into service in the late 1960s, the secondary main runway at LBWG (02R/20L) was a lot shorter than the main runway (02L/20R) and only touch&go circuits for solo pupes was the order of the day ie no PFLs or full-stop landings. Flapless circuits were allowed with an overshoot, no landings. This congested the circuit quite a lot as the practise in the late 60s/early 70s was to have pupes courses in the high 50s low 60s.

Hence Somersveld. It also doubled as an emergency airfield. Still used from time to time today. And you thought this was just another fast asleep little “dorpie” in the Swartland district! Even the national off road championship Nissan 400 was hosted around the Darling Country Club (2003 -2011) for a number of years and the event also ran under the auspices of the 109 year old Cape Peninsula Motorcycle and Car Club. Now the first round of the 2019 Western Cape Rally Championship takes competitors in the strongest regional rally championship back to the Darling district on Saturday 2 March 2019.

The town of darling is 168 years old this year and as the opening round of the championship (instead of the fourth round as in 2018) the entire character of this event has changed as the wet conditions will now be replaced by dust and sand.

Ismaeel Davids and Yusuf Ganief will be starting the event as outright favourites for overall victory in their refreshed ID Paving 431 CCMCC S5 (S2000) Toyota Run X 2.0 4x4. With the 2.0 20v engine rebuilt by Damseaux Motorsport and the car re-shelled their intentions are clear. Joining them in class S5 with their much older, almost classic, Howard Centre Motors Nissan Sentra 4x4 will be Winston Neethling and Lyle Marais. Posing more of e threat to the S2000 Toyota the entry of Shaun Jones and Jason Thorpe will enjoy close scrutiny as this 424 CPMCC S5 Subaru Impreza Turbo 4x4 2.0 will be given free reigns come Saturday. Actually, just learnt that the Scoobie may be traded for their even more impressive 424 CPMCC S4 BMW 328!

Darling Clerk of the Course, Billy Thorpe, used to fill the Suicide Seat next to Shaun Jones in another classic rally car, the ex-factory VW Golf 4x4 2.0 and though this car is currently being painstakingly restored it will be Jason (26 year old son of Billy) who will be making his debut as navigator. The 4x4 entries strong in the wet and they should also enjoy quite an advantage in the dry, sandy, conditions which await the crews in 2019.

At just 17 years of age young Owen Jones will be worth keeping an eye on as this youngster certainly has talent as a driver and the ex-Llewellyn Jones 454 CPMCC S5 VW Polo Turbo 2.0 has the raw pace to live with most of the opposition. Michelle Taylor will be keeping young Owen going in the right direction.

Keenan Sassman and Randall Marais certainly hold the potential to surprise the weekend in their very strong Howard Centre 413 CCMCC S4 Toyota Corolla 1.8i. Undoubtedly the quickest combination in the category they could potentially find themselves in the running for overall victory in Darling.

Derick and John Clift return a son and father for 2019 their ACW Engineering 418 CPMCC S4 Toyota Hilux 2.0. John started rallying in the early seventies as navigator for amongst others a deaf driver – claiming he did not have to listen to his navigator son? It will be interesting to hear whether the same would apply in this configuration.

Paul Emmanuel and Lloyd Brady have the grunt in their 449 CCMCC VW Polo 2.0 to master the sandy conditions but at the time of writing their car had not been confirmed. Trevor Hodges and Ian Thebus certainly have the pace to run with everyone, if their reliability issues have been resolved on the orange CCMCC 421 S4 VW Golf MkIII GTi 2.0 16v.

Father and daughter combination, Cobus and Reyanah Edas, are residents of Malmesbury and the local combination are really looking forward to a great event in their ex-Chris de Wit 464 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6. Riyaan Amlay and Ebrahim Mia another combination keen to find more consistency in their Ramlay Builders 433 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6i whilst Mustapha Mia and Yaseen Amlay look set to impress in their Ramlay Builders 456 CCMCC S3 Toyota Conquest 1600. Julian Calvert and Marius Rudolph will be returning in Lulu, the Team 409 CCMCC / WBMK S3 VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 8v and if consistency pay dividends they will be ready to collect.

Warren Scholtz and Justin Gay another team with the potential to challenge for class honours in their 444 CPMCC S3 VW Polo 2.0 and relative newcomers, Erin Joshua and Terry Croy have also shown great improvement with each outing in their ex-Team George 462 CCMCC S3 Toyota Conquest RSi 1.6i.

Class S2 will be headed by the 2018 champions, Johan and Petra Zulch, in their 439 WBMK S2 Ford Escort 1600 Sport. Johann a veteran with numerous class championships behind his name and clearly the 22 year sabbatical has not influenced his pace as driver.

Warren Köhler and Dylan Timmes will be their main opposition in the neat 65 CCMCC S2 Toyota Corolla TRD 1.6 and hopefully the 436 WPMC VW Golf MkI 1.6 of Kevin Calvert and Brian Hoskins will be ready too. Newcomers. Garth and Gill Vernon, simply want to reach the final Parc Ferme on debut in their 459 CPMCC S2 VW Golf MkI 1.4.

John and Weston Peiser, father and son defending Western Cape Rally Champions will be driving the Sweep vehicle on this occasion instead of the Speed Pro Cycling Components 425 WPMC Subaru Impreza 4x4 Turbo.

Ettiene du Toit and Patrick Vermaak forced into a season sabbatical after Ettiene suffered an unfortunate injury to his spine. Ironically the Team 467 S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6i completely rebuilt for 2019.

Unfortunately many teams could not get their cars prepared in time for Darling but the prospect of Oswaldo Mendes, Llewellyn Jones, Lourens van Rensburg, Charl Strydom, Darren van Greunen, Andy Haigh-Smith, Shaheen Amlay, Faizel Davids, Tariq Khatib and Theodore Croy joining the fray has the 2019 season starting off in a very positive manner.

The valued support of Polyplastix, A&A Powder Coaters, CEJ Plant Hire and Imperial Toyota have made the 2nd Darling Rally possible.

The Darling Rally is scheduled to start (9h30) and finish (16h00) at the popular Darling Gholf Club with really accessible spectator points in close proximity to the Club.