Danye trumps Sir Garnet

Sir Garnet Wolseley, the British Governor of Natal, would probably have enjoyed some of the horseless carraiges that descended from Nuwekloof, Du Toitskloof, Bainskloof and Michell’s Pass on Saturday 21 May 2016. Unfortunately much had changed since the little town in the Breede River Valley was named after him in 1910, but the 1930 Sir Garnet Hotel still looks much the same and every once in awhile Solomon Street comes alive when the Waaihoek, Witzenberg and Wareval Mountains echo the sounds of cars competing in the Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship.

No snow this time around but the beautiful winters day did deliver enough white smoke from competing crews to challenge the steam trains of early 19h00’s. Thirty two teams almost withdrew before actually entering the 5th Sir Garnet Wolseley Gymkhana as the route represented their worst nightmare. How difficult could a straight piece of road be after all? Well, apparently it could be quite terrifying for both drivers and navigators!

Exactly what was needed as sudenly the veterans found themselves removed from their comfort zone and the newcomers simply did not know any better. This was a back to basics gymkhana route and the final results proved interesting too. Having dabbled with various tyre burning rear wheel drive cars for a number of seasons Danye Louw returned to his roots by acquiring the rapid Boland Trade Centre class D VW Golf Chico MkI 1.4i formerly campaigned by Ettiene Swart. A car that was extensively developed by Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dynotech. Izak van Zyl Jnr disappointed his myriad of local supporters by opting to contest a Killarney Drifting event at Killarney with the always popular V8 Lexus 4.0 powered class G Dynotech Toyota Corolla but father-in-law, Dewald van der Merwe, was present in the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 16v Turbo.

Three of the four AHI Racing Mini Coopers were present to form a formidable challenge led by defending Wolseley champion, Rafique Firfirey, and his young son Hishaam in their silver class G Mini Cooper S Turbo 1.6. Masood Dangor and sister, Aatera Firfirey, sharing the dark blue class G Mini Cooper S 1.6 Cabriolet as well as the charcoal class C Mini Cooper 1.6. Walter van Dyk and Jacques du Plessis had the sneezing class G VW Golf MkI 2.0 Turbo present whilst Jacques du Plessis had Danye Louw in the suicide seat of his Du Plessis Auto class A Toyota Conquest 2.0 20v. Brother, Pierre du Plessis, had his son Wynand navigating in the Du Plessis Auto class B Toyota Conquest 1.8 16v.

The defending WBMK Gymkhana champions, Fanie and Zak du Toit, found themselves in a spot of bother as young Zak was forced to concentrate on his studies and Liezel Oosthuizen was convinced to point the way in the FM Civils class A Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v. And then there were a few surprises ...

Danye Louw and Jacques du Plessis shocked everyone with a scintillating performance not normally associated with this pairing who much prefer entertaining the crowd with driving that visibly has Pierre van der Westhuizen grow older as Clerk of the Course. After three runs they had no penalties and led the event convincingly, the only sign of effort were bleeding knuckles as Danye had his fingers wrapped by the steering wheel.

Try as they might the opposition then faltered with many errors under pressure trying to close the gap to the BTC Golf. With the overall victory secured Danye and Jacques then lost their faultless record by getting completely lost on their final attempt, they simply had to do something wrong! In typical Fanie du Toit fashion he duffed his opening two runs and simply had to pull the cat out of the bag on the final two and did he come close! Just 0.09 seconds slower on combined times and a blisteringly quick third run which he could not repeat. Second place for Fanie du Toit and Liezel Oosthuizen representing a brilliant recovery.

Rafique and Hishaam Firfirey started like potential champions and set the fastest time of the day before Rafique was forced to withdraw from the event with muscle spasms in his arm. Told you, it was a demanding route of note! A pity, as the Mini was heading towards a potentially demoralisingly fast final run and the opposition are well aware of the full potential of the third placed Mini.

The star performance of the day came from another unexpected source as Francois Mostert and Marius Ellis proved both entertaining and incredibly agile in their fourth placed class A Opel Astra 200i SE. The drive of the day by relative newcomers as they pipped Walter van Dyk and Pierre du Plessis in the class G VW Golf MkI 2.0 Turbo. Dewald van der Merwe and Leon Engelbrecht found the tight layout a little too much for the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 16v Turbo and were delighted to salvage sixth overall.

Johann Zulch and Cobus Viola were beaming in seventh overall with the big and cumbersome Ceres Toyota backed class E BMW E30 325iM. Experience does count and Johann surprised many with his smooth driving. Smooth also applied to the ever consistent Morné Roux and sister Liezel Oosthuizen in the eight placed class A Mazda 323 EGi 2.0 16v. Masood Dangor and sister Aatera Firfirey occupied ninth and tenth spot respectively in the AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S Cabriolet 1.6 and the AHI Racing class C Mini Cooper 1.6.

Eleventh overall went to the monster 260kW and 520Nm “mildly” turbocharged Eikestad Plastic Repairs class G BMW Z3 3.0 of “Ds” Leon Engelbrecht and Uvane Coetzee. Willingly burning rubber this Beemer was incredibly impressive as it developed rapid fire syndrome to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd in attendance.

A tough choice but Tony and Bertie van Heerden earned the title as Most Spectacular Team with neat driving whilst burning rubber on the equally impressive 320kW 605Nm Lexus 4.0 Twin Turbo Pipe-Car now dubbed the Ceres TT V8. Relatively new to the sport they have shown great progression in a very short spell and this vehicle is only starting to show it’s real potential.

Jacques du Plessis and Danye Louw did not enjoy the route at all and 13th overall was not a true reflection of the rapid Du Plessis Auto class A Toyota Conques 2.0 20v as it struggled to beat the 14th placed standard class D Toyota Yaris 1.3 of Liezel Oosthuizen and Aatera Firfirey. Lets just say that neither Jacques nor Danye are known for their patience. In strak contrast it must be said the 15th placed Pierre and Wynand du Plessis may well have won this event had they been able to restrain themselves from being flamboyant in their Du Plessis Auto class B Toyota Conquest 1.8 16v. Consistency would have been key to success.

Aatera Firfirey and Liezel Oosthuizen placed the AHI racing class C Mini Cooper 1.6 sixteenth whilst Liezel Oosthuizen and Tania Vermaak won the All Ladies category with the 17th placed Toyota Yars 1.3. Aatera Firfirey and carel Bosch 18th in the hard working AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S 1.6 Cabriolet and as all ladies entry the same car also netted 19th spot with Liezel Oosthuizen navigating. Marius Ellis and Francois Mostert completing the top twenty in their neat class A Opel Kadett Gsi CD 2.0. With a potential buyer present Marius was probably a little more cautious than Francois?

Jan van der Vyver and Liezel Oosthuizen only 21st in the hopping mad class D Race-Tech VW Golf MkI 1.4i? Strange but true and a day full of misfires and dead plugs did not leave the combination smiling much. Hopefully he will be speaking to the organisers again by the next event. Another not enjoying the tight layout was Ryno Hough and Arnold Nel in the 450kW 6.8L V8 Ford F100 Pipe-Car known as Smokey. Burning rubber it certainly did, but navigating this big frame was limited to destroying the cones. Suffering from a bad bout of flu did not help and wearing shoes was obviously destroying his ability to “feel” the throttle.

Changing sides Bertie and Tony van Heerden did not bother naviagting past the first cone as Bertie made no secret of the fact that this route was simply too much to fathom. As single seaters Danye Louw added another win to his succesful day with Pierre du Plessis second,Jan van der Vyver third and impressive newcomer, Sean Stevens, fourth in his ex-Clubmans Daihatsu Charade 1.3. Dewald van der Merwe fifth in the Dynotech Golf.

Judge of fact, André Brinkman, had his busiest day in the office to date as the entire field managed to collect penalties, so many at times that the scoring computer recorded it as an error! And so nearly did we not have a scorer as a Pedegrine Falcon considered Neville Gleeson to be good target practice. Amazingly agile and even faster in a dive the “little” dive bomber had him pinned to the floor until help arrived. Pierre van der Westhuizen, Clerk of the Course, and Robert Marle, MSA Steward, managed a change of clothing after the Ceres Toyota Rally before heading for the 5th Sir Garnet Gymkhana in Wolseley whilst Dewald and Meghan Nortjé remained the faithfull Start and Finish Marshals. Documentation running smoothly as usual thanks to Anette Vermaak and Meghan Nortjé. With competitors treating the route as a ten pin bowling alley almost everyone was assisting in placing bollards after each run but Johann Zulch deserves a great big thank you for the kilometers he covered on foot.

Francois la Grange and the Sir Garnet Hotel staff did a sterling job with officials well looked after and the pleasant prizegiving was held with Martin van Zyl present as resident musician. Changes envisaged for the 6th Sir Garnet Gymkhana Wolseley on 16 July 2016 should see another challenging event in the Breede River Valley.

Next event will be the 1st Boland Trade Centre Gymkhana Moorreesburg on Saturday 25 June 2016. To be hosted in front of the Moorreesburg Showgrounds in Kotzé Street.

Be There!