Ashley and Damian win home event

Though Ashley Haigh-Smith and Damian van As won their home event, the CPMCC Malmesbury Toyota Automark Rally, in their AHS Racing S5 WPMC Ford Fiesta R2 1600 it was not as straight forward as it may sound. Doing a final check prior to leaving home the brake master cylinder developed a rather serious leak followed by a calliper or two. Once that was sorted the power steering failed and the car arrived just in time to start!

As predicted André Cleenwerck and Justin Gay opened their account by winning SS1 convincingly in their rapid Mobile Cooling S3 CPMCC VW Polo 1.6 20v whilst the Ford pairing tried to sort maladies and John and Weston Peiser off to their normal cautious start. Then the Speed Pro Cycling Components S5 WPMC Subaru Impreza GT 4x4 Turbo 2.0 settled into a rhythm that proved mighty on the muddy surface to win the next three stages. Really taking the fight for overall victory to the nimble, much more modern, Ford it was very disappointing to hear the car turn sour with a leaking manifold sapping power on the final stage.

With a competitor blocking the river crossing SS5 (repeat of SS2 Middelpos) was unfortunately scrapped from the results. Shaun Jones and Mark Avice du Buisson kept their noses clean, but the Avice Pest Control S4 CPMCC E36 BMW 328i did not enjoy the regular puddles and they had to settle for third overall after what could be described as a subdued effort from this normally flamboyant combination.

Conditions on stage was not easy as though this had to be considered near perfect weather for an event the recent heavy rains in the Swartland had saturated the earth and standing water turned straights into challenges. Having lost a lot of time with a water related misfire on SS2 the Mobile Cooling S3 CPMCC VW Polo 1.6 20v of André Cleenwerck and Justin Gay had to settle for fourth overall on this occasion. Opposition be warned, this car is still going to get much quicker.

Trevor Hodges had Yusuf Ganief in the suicide seat of the Claremont S3 CCMCC VW Golf MkIII GTi and as something of a wet weather specialist it was no surprise to see this combination in fifth overall. Abduraghman Amlay might have noticed that his navigator had finished an event in a VW? Tiaan Rabe and Nico Esterhuyse looked quick but lacked the grunt of the more powerful cars enroute to sixth overall in their class S2 winning WBMK Time2Travel VW Golf Chico 1.6. Darren and Llewellyn van Greunen seventh overall and second in class with their Euro Teck S2 CCMCC VW Golf Chico. Out of the running before the event started both these S2 teams are back in the hunt.

Andy Haigh-Smith and Matthew Parson eighth overall in their AHS Racing class S3 CPMCC Mitsubishi Lancer GT1600 and as always this car was oblivious to all the standing water, simply cruising through anything they encountered. Two rear punctures on SS2 did nothing to cheer up Winston Neethling and Lyle Marais in the Howard Centre Motors S5 CCMCC Nissan Sentra 4x4 and the time lost dropped them to a disappointing ninth overall. Also losing front wheel drive they were simply happy to make the finish.

Neels van Wyk and Jason Thorpe quite impressive enroute to an encouraging 10th overall in the standard S2 CPMCC Toyota Corolla SR5 1600 with Anthony Connolly and Randall Marais satisfied with 11th place in the S4 CCMCC VW Polo 2.0. The car only just repaired in time for the Swartland event after having been rolled on the Ceres round of the championship.

Kesevan Naidoo and Fabian Smith deserve the hard luck trophy having completed all the special stages only to have a rear calliper seize on their S3 Freightmore Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 before they could reach Parc Fermé. Time-barred almost within sight of the rally finish another bitter pill to swallow.

Lourens and Nina van Rensburg looked set for another great result in the 7Films / LLJ Racing S5 WPMC Ford Fiesta R2 1600 but then the battery died on them and the car rolled to a halt after four stages had been completed. Justin and Brian Hoskins gulped water into the engine of their JD Motorsport S2 WPMC VW Golf Chico 1.4i and their retirement have suddenly brought the class championship to life again.

Keenan Sassman and Matthew Köhler also had to withdraw their Howard Centre Motors S3 CCMCC Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 due to swallowing enough water to do damage to the engine. Paul-Hendrik Franken had Daniël Blaser pointing the way in the FR3 Racing S4 WBMK E36 BMW 325i but despite running standard shockabsorbers the Beemer lost it’s clutch. Anwar Levy and Jean-Pierre Jacobs successfully drowned their Jive S4 CCMCC VW Polo 2.0 on SS2 and eventually drained the battery trying to restart.

After sixteen years Jacques Theron acquired an ex-Kobus Roos A6 specification S3 WBMK Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 and Francois Erasmus did duty as the navigator. Unfortunately their debut brought to an end by a broken CV on their Toyota.

When you are fortunate enough to have great weather on your winter event it certainly is a bonus as weather conditions on Saturday was near perfect with not a breeze or a single gnat to spoil the awesome scenery. Flamingo’s everywhere and Thrust crop sprayers providing an aerial ballet in almost every direction made this the perfect day to be outdoors. Nineteen crews in rally cars might beg to differ as they had to negotiate their way through standing water and deep muddy slush at times, but then, if want to keep your feet clean you should consider track racing.

John and Derick Clift attended the 45th Total Tara Namibia Rally as spectators and eventually completed the entire route as 0 car. An experience John enjoyed so much he built his own Toyota Hilux 2.2 and volunteered his services as 00 for the regional rally. Pieter Heaney swopped his camera for the suicide seat and by stage three he found himself on the same page as John. It is enthusiasm such as this that keeps a sport alive! Billy Thorpe putting in his annual appearance as driver of the 0 car.

(Herman Aucamp) Malmesbury Toyota provide vital support to the event and the start at their premises brought back many memories to the likes of Derrick Benjamin, Andy Haigh-Smith and Derek Sturgess. Back home from Angola it was nice to bump into Inus du Plessis and borther Jean du Plessis was present to see his former BMW being driven by Paul-Hendrik Franken.

Voegelsan or Vogelgesang, depending on which signpost you read the name, were for many years a favourite stage with spectators and though there were no spectator points for this year the crews were pleased to return to this farm as SS1. Middelpos proved a rather testing stage with the river crossing near the end proving to be more than challenging to some crews. Wolfgat is a tradition on the Swartland events and Nuwedam as always central to proceedings.

Till next time!