Bravo - Leon & Natasha

The 2019 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship drew to a close with a double header event on Saturday 16 November 2019 at the Killarney International Raceway and it could not have finished with a more impressive result as a mere 0.61 seconds split the top three teams after some extremely entertaining driving. The closest podium in the 137 event history of the series.

Leon Engelbrecht and Izak Van Zyl Jnr made a unique combination in 2019 as Leon had acquired the championship winning class G VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 16v Turbo of Izak and as the defending champion he set about repeating the feat. Changing the colours from Dynotech to L&M Automotive Performance and retaining the services of Izak van Zyl Jnr as navigator Leon had to dig deep to adapt the new weapon to his liking but it proved successful through consistent results. Leon Engelbrecht now the 2018 and 2019 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Drivers Champion.

When Natasha de Jager started to navigate in gymkhana events one could not have asked to see anyone more nervous, but after a season or two she became extremely capable and competitive and thanks to a very consistent season she has now won her first championship as the 2019 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Navigators Champion.

Though the statement is often made that second place makes one the first loser it is certainly encouraging to see many of the veterans in the sport returning and the prospect of a truly competitive 2020 season is on the cards.

Former overall champions Fanie and Zac du Toit tested the new series in the class A Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v and claimed class honours.

In class B it was Günther and Louise Appelgryn that reigned supreme in the always immaculate Spiderman VW Golf MKI 1.8.

Class C went to the neatly driven DRS Autoworx VW Golf Citi MkI 1.6 of André Smit and Natasha de Jager.

In class D it was Abdul Sayed and Leon Engelbrecht who dominated in the JTC Auto Tools Toyota Tazz 1.3. It was always quite interesting to compare this race prepared car with the absolutely standard version of second placed Byron Hite. Natasha de Jager and Tania Vermaak shaing the navigator seat.

Almost as always it was Johann Zulch who claimed top honours in class E with his Ceres Toyota backed BMW E30 325iM and a trio of navigators was something of an unstable season for the veteran. Petra Zulch, Tania Vermaak and Natasha de Jager assisting in various events.

Anton Smit enjoyed a truly impressive season in the Navara Junior (his Toyota 1600 powered Nissan LDV) and not only did he claim the class F Championship with Natasha de Jager navigating, he also finished a mighty second overall in the Drivers Championship.

Leon Engelbrecht and Izak van Zyl Jnr duly claimed the class G Championship in the L&M Automotive Performance VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 16v Turbo but 2020 will see the opposition step up a gear. Rafique Firfirey (FMH Mini Cooper S Turbo 1.6), Fanie du Toit (Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v), Sean Pretorius (Powerbrake Subaru N14 Turbo AWD), Kyle van Dyk (Tuned2Race Nissan 350Z) and Izak van Zyl Jnr (Dynotech Toyota Corolla 4.0 V8 Twin Turbo) now know exactly what it will require to challenge for overall honours and then there is always the ever present rumour of Mike Nathan and André Dreyer in the background.

Sean Pretorius have established himself as the class H (solo) ace of the year in his monster Powerbrake Subaru N14 STi 2.5 Turbo AWD but he too can expect stronger opposition in 2020.

2019 might not be remembered as a vintage year in respect of the Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship as numerous factors led to rather dramatic changes in order for the popular series to continue after twenty years and 131 events, but there is reason for optimism.

Collaboration with the Western province Motor Club saw the six rounds of the 2019 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship presented at the Killarney International Raceway. The first time that this series had been hosted at a single venue and as one could expect the initial resistance to change element saw many regulars preferring to sit back and monitor the changes.

The nucleas of the organising committee also saw big changes and it was Abdul Sayed who stepped in to organise most of the behind the scenes activities required with a keen, but very inexperienced team. They now have six events experience behind them and given the positive manner in which the 2019 were concluded on Saturday 16 November 2019 the future holds great potential for the WBMK Gymkhana Championship.

Open to anyone with almost any type of vehicle that meets basic safety scrutiny may contest the Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship and though the top end of the field certainly take the sport very seriously the main objective remains an opportunity for the man in the street to comes and test his own abilities in a safe and controlled motorsport environment without having to spend his children’s inheritance in the process.

Cars can and may be shared by various driver / navigator combinations with many a family present over the past twenty years. Pierre van der Westhuizen has been the almost institutionalised Clerk of the Course for the past 137 events and as Chairman of the Witzenberg Motorklub have allowed the series to flourish from what was intended to be a single event annually in 1999.

See you in 2020!

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