Can Cooper Rustler the VW at Weskus?

With the second of eight rounds concluded in the 2015 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship the level of competition is such that predicting a result for the 10th Weskus Mall Gymkhana Vredenburg on Saturday 20 June 2015 is challenging to say the least.

Well nobody predicted that the event would not take place! Thus, there was no 10th Weskus Mall Gymkhana Vredenburg but now we are focussing on making the 11th Weskus Mall Gymkhana Vredenburg on Saturday 18 July 2015 a great success as all the logistics have finally been resolved behind the scenes and the balance of the 2015 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship is set.

To top it all Vredenburg is recognised as THE most challenging venue on the annual calendar and are affectionately known as the “Biesiepol Vastrap”. Some drivers openly voice their dislike of the event as they simply cannot master the routes which, on the day, look exactly the same from any angle! Those who accept the challenge find the results incredibly rewarding when everything finally clicks into place.

Weather is always a factor in Vredenburg and fortunately the event enjoys good grip in wet and dry whilst competitors might feel a little lost come Saturday as management have for reasons unknown removed most of the “biesiepolle”. Nothing also looks the same from any angle so it may not hold as big a benefit as it may sound? Early entries closed on Saturday 11 July 2015 but Late Entries will be accepted until Saturday morning, refer to the Supplementary Regulations for details.

Currently Sunrise is at 07h48 and Sunset 18h00 so the day will be relatively short with temperatures ranging from 7ºC to 16ºC with a 11k/h South South Easterly gusting to 33km/h, UV factor of only 3, and more importantly – no rain! Located 138km North of Cape Town Vredenburg was initially known as Twisfontein, then it became Prosesfontein and eventually when everyone agreed on what was to happen with the fresh water fountain in the middle of town it became Vredenburg. Bear with us as final logistics are being confirmed for this event to take place on Saturday.

Defending drivers champion, “Vinnige” Fanie du Toit, arrived at the UNIREF 26th Club Mykonos Gymkhana Langebaan on 28 February with his 13 year old son, Izak Jnr, nominated as his official navigator for the season in the FM Civils class A Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v. Zak had been quietly preparing for this moment by competing in unofficial capacity for Fanie and made no secret of the fact that the suicide seat in the Rustler was soon to be occupied by him. The Rustler acquired extensive damage after having won the 2015 title and was literally delivered the Friday of the Mykonos event and despite the overnight preparations they simply did not know what to expect.

Fortunately the results had the entire Worcester based team smiling as Fanie and Zak du Toit joined the best of the best on the coveted Club Mykonos Gymkhana floating trophy as winners of the 26th UNIREF supported event. They were realistic enough to appreciate the fact that preparations in the AHI Racing stable was still in a development phase and though competitive, neither Rafique or Natheer Firfirey were satisfied with the progress made. Leon Engelbrecht was still awaiting the secret box of goodies and promised to ready for the 9th Lions Vredendal Gymkhana on 25 April 2015.

It was something of an open secret that serious development was being done on the silver AHI Racing Mini Cooper S Turbo 1.6 of Rafique Firfirey and it certainly wasted no time in proving that this was worth waiting for. What nobody expected, possibly Rafique included, was the astounding pace of his younger brother, Natheer, in the second Supercharged AHI Mini Cooper S 1.6. Having attended a track day at Killarney the team analysed a number of problems on both cars and Leon Engelbrecht set about correcting these issues.

Taking overall victory was expected, but it was Natheer and Rafique Firfirey at the top of the results in the light blue Supercharged 2002 AHI Racing Mini Cooper S 1.6 with the roles reversed in second place with the silver Turbocharged 2009 AHI Racing Mini Cooper S 1.6.  Fanie and Zak gave it all they had in the Rustler, but simply had no answer for the rapid Mini Cooper duo.

Four times drivers champion, Izak van Zyl Jnr, and father-in-law, Dewald van der Merwe, tackled 2015 with renewed vigour but find themselves lagging behind in development despite having switched to 16v 2.0 Turbo power in the Dynotech VW Golf MkII GTi. Or would it be that they are somewhat distracted by the fun they are having in the rear wheel driven Dynotech Toyota Corolla V8 4.0? The Toyota have undoubtedly become the crowd favourite at most venues with no effort required to complete the course without ever looking through the windscreen. Or at least that is how easy Izak makes each run look in this car and it is rumoured that Dynotech are preparing a proper high speed drifter too.

All the above have since been spotted at the Killarney track day so more than likely  everyone would have found more  performance in one way or the other.

New threats arriving are the innocent looking Toyota Conquest entries of the Du Plessis brothers, Jacques and Pierre. Jacques gave notice of the potential hidden within his Serge Damseaux (10 x SA Rally Drivers Champion) tweaked 2.0 20v Du Plessis Auto Toyota Conquest but it was Pierre du Plessis who had everyone sit up and take notice of his Louis Snyman tweaked 1.8 16v Du Plessis Auto Toyota Conquest. The fact that these two brothers enjoy nothing more than to challenge each other simply further increase the potential of them challenging for overall victory.   

The WBMK Gymkhana Championship have always promoted family involvement but never before have brothers stepped to the fore in this manner. Nothing to choose between the Firfirey brothers, Rafiqie and Natheer, and the same applies to the Du Plessis brothers, Jacques and Pierre. The Du Toit FM Civils Rustler is a father and son combination whilst the Dynotech entries involves father – son – father in law and so many more. Fanie and Zac du Toit remain the team to beat in class A with the FM Civils Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v but now have the Jacques and Pierre du Plessis Toyota Conquest 2.0 20v as well as brother and sister, Morné Roux and Liezel Oosthuizen, Mazda 323 EGi 2.0 16v to keep them on their toes. Swopping sides have also presented impressive results for Liezel in the Mazda.

Chances are that the popular Appelgryn couple, Günther and Louise, may also be making the trip to Vredenburg this weekend having missed the opening rounds and the Spiderman class B VW Golf MkI 1.8 have always been a popular visitor in Vredenburg. Pierre du Plessis and Walter van Dyk, should be leading the class B pack in their impressive Du Plessis Auto Toyota Conquest 1.8 16v but Xander Vorster and Hilton Africa would be present to benefit from any errors in their standard Opel Corsa LDV 1.8i. Nashrené Schloss also in the process of moving her Toyota Corolla Sprinter into class A with 2.0 power, but unfortunately she is still awaiting new shockabsorbers for her Toyota will not present this Saturday.

Hennie Hoffmeyer and Morné Roux tops the class C points log in a very unlikely race car, a genuinely standard 1998 Nissan Sentra 1.6. Consistency pays and as a complete newcomer to the sport Hennie is thoroughly enjoying every outing. The Du Plessis brothers have vacated the class and there is a number of potential combinations that could step forward in this capacity class. Brother and sister, Masood Dangor and Aatera Firfirey, is rumoured to be bringing a fourth AHI Racing Mini to the series, this a more mundane normally aspirated class C 1.6 version.

Morné Roux and Liezel Oosthuizen share her silver class D Toyota Yaris 1.3 in this category and Liezel certainly keeps her brother honest on the day. This possibly the class that should have the biggest entry as it caters specifically for the small capacity front wheel drives.

Johann Zulch and Cobus Viola remain the unchallenged masters of class E in their Ceres Toyota supported BMW E30 325iM and by not challenging this combinations the opposition are simply falling further behind. Nobody is unbeatable and they need competition!

Kobus Wilson Jnr and Werner McDonald lead the class F brigade in their incredibly quick 1976 Datsun GX DeLuxe Sedan 1.4i (see latest developments on this GX) and as always they will have the red Innovative Woodwork Nissan LDV 1.6 of Anton Smit and Tania Vermaak snapping at their heels. With a new career beckoning it is something of a lottery to see whether it will be Tania Vermaak or André Smit in the suicide seat at each event. Local support for the Langebaanweg based Chana LDV 1.3 of Desmond Harding, with Tania Vermaak navigating, would certainly motivate this very entertaining and unusual entry. Believe it or not these vehicles had their own championship as part of the All Tar Rally in Gauteng! Sadly this might be the last opportunity to see this unique LDV in action as t is said to be returning to Gauteng soon. A pity as it is only starting to find some reliable pace.

Ladies are not be outdone as they have their own class in which to test their skills. Aatera Firfirey and Liezel Oosthuizen the two most prominent drivers currently contesting the series in their supercharged Mini Cabriolet and Toyota Yaris respectively. When time allows Tania Vermaak, a former Vredenburg scholar, will be present in her VW Golf Citi Sport 1.4i and growing experience will see her constantly moving closer to her more experienced rivals.

As have been stated many times – gymkhana is not only about chasing rewards or results – it offers a genuine opportunity to improve your skills as driver on our roads by putting you under pressure in a controlled environment. No expensive race car required – it is recommended you drive whatever you use on the road in order to develop your own ability to drive safely. See www.wbmk.co.za or Witzenberg Motorklub on Facebook for more information about the WBMK and the Gymkhana Championship. And yes, everyone makes an embarrassing mistake occasionally but those who compete respect that as part of the learning curve and will offer advice to prevent it from ever happening again.

The immanent return of Ryno Hough and Arnold Nel in the Calvinia V8 is something everyone have been longing to see and the popular Pipe-Car was to make it’s return in Vredenburg on 20 June 2015. We have been privileged to have witnessed the talents of Mynhardt de Jongh, Izak van Zyl Jnr and Werner Koekemoer over the years and Ryno certainly deserves to be included in this elite group of drivers. Hopefully Ryno will be able to join in the fun come Saturday.

Jan van der Vyver and Liezel Oosthuizen remain the top combination in class D, but do not contest every round and as such the VW Golf Citi MkI 1.4i could be threatened by consistent participation of others. Unfortunately this rapid little Golf will not be present this Saturday due to prior commitments.

Coming to the Weskus Mall Vredenburg for the 11th event is a privilege and we thank all involved in making this possible. The Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship originated from the July 1999 Tygerberg Subaru Club Mykonos Langebaan Gymkhana and this will in fact be the 106th event under the auspices of Motorsport South Africa. Due to the short daylight hours of winter the first car is set to start at 09h00 and as always the program will provide four opportunities for each team to complete the set route with their two fastest times combined for the final result.

Arrive early, find your favourite spot and enjoy the West Coast hospitality in one of the prettiest venues on the West Coast. Behind the scenes the efforts of Danie Burger have to be recognised in preparing this event for both competitors and spectators. There are no entrance fees, simply a request to obey the marshals on the day and to keep the area litter free.