A Darling victory for Peiser!

John and Weston Peiser (father and son) drove the rally of their career to win the first CPMCC Darling Rally in their Speed Pro Cycling Equipment 425 WPMC S5 Subaru Impreza GT 2.0 Turbo 4x4. Driving the very first Subaru to ever rally in South Africa had them realize that nothing short of absolutely flat-out from the start will give them any chance of beating their more modern opposition.

As expected Llewellyn Jones (Somerset West) and Christophé Pichon (Welgemoed) had their sights firmly on a third consecutive victory in their CEJ Plant Hire 434 CPMCC S5 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2.0 Turbo 4x4 with Oswaldo Mendes (Swakopmund) and Craig Gray (Brackenfell) joining the battle of the Scoobies in their Skyway / Riverside 129 WBMK / CPMCC S5 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2.0 Turbo 4x4 whilst newcomers to the S5 class, Ismaeel Davids (Rondebosch) and Yusuf Ganief (Surrey Estate), looked threatening in their ex-factory ID Paving 431 CCMCC S5 (S2000) Toyota Run X 4x4 from the start.

The eight unpredictable special stages certainly delivered a challenging scenario to the eighteen teams as the recent, welcome, heavy rains had turned perfectly good surfaces into muddy slush whilst the perfect weather conditions on Saturday related to vast number of spectators enjoying a great spectacle at the easy to reach spectator points.

The opening stage provided early drama as standing water determined the fate of a number of competitors but after the opening four stage loop it was John Peiser (Plattekloof) and Weston Peiser (Plattekloof) in control with a 52 second advantage over Oswaldo Mendes (Swakopmund) and Craig Gray (Brackenfell). The latter combination amazingly only losing 17 seconds on SS4, completing the entire stage minus brakes! Brakes on three wheels are however not recommended on wet rallies and the team found themselves beached on SS5, receiving outside assistance to continue. Though they must be commended for actually admitting to having been assisted, returning under Super Rally rules would do little to improve their result.

Llewellyn Jones (Somerset West) and Christophé Pichon (Welgemoed) was forced into Super Rally when their Scooby was halted with a broken sideshaft on SS2 (and they are at a loss as to why it could not be driven out of the stage). Ismaeel Davids (Rondebosch) and Yusuf Ganief (Surrey Estate) gradually settled into their S2000 Toyota and though they had oil leaking onto the clutch their cautious approach paid dividends when they reached the final Parc Fermé second overall on debut. With the pressure off John Peiser (Plattekloof) and Weston Peiser (Plattekloof) could relax their pace and preserve their Subaru to eventually win by a convincing 5min32 margin.

Darren van Greunen (Bellville) and Quinton Swarts (Langebaan) continued to impress with their Vyekraal Dairy 415 WBMK S3 Toyota Run X RSi 1.6 proving to be reliable and quick on home front. Sponsored by a Darling based dairy the popular combination simply could not have done better than finishing third overall and first in class. Normally the S3 battle would be considered the highlight of local rallies but their opposition assisted by eliminating themselves from the event.

Ettiene du Toit (Edgemead) and Patrick Vermaak (Strand) had their event ruined on the opening special stage when water in the electrics cost them 1min30 and though they would find their rhythm the normally ultra reliable Team 467 S3 WBMK Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6 would grind to a halt 11.90km into SS5 with a suspected stripped differential. Keenan Sassman (Edgemead) and Clint Lingeveldt (Lansdowne) encountering slightly more serious electrical problems in SS5 when no less than three conrods assisted the alternator from it’s mounting, setting fire to the engine bay. Fortunately they could contain the fire, but they would join Team 467 in viewing the Hildebrand needle on the horizon.

Running like the proverbial train was the AHS Racing 432 CPMCC / WBMK S3 Mitsubishi Lancer GT1600 of Andy Haigh-Smith (Malmesbury) and Tania Vermaak (Strand). Under powered and overweight compared to the opposition the “Yellow Submarine” revelled in the watersplashes and did not miss a beat enroute to a brilliant fourth position overall and second in class.

Anthony Connelly and Shawn Nedft (Kensington) also kept their noses clean in the 429 CCMCC S4 VW Polo 2.0 to finish in a fine fifth position overall whilst John Clift (Struisbaai) and Derick Clift (Paarl) were somewhat frustrated in sixth overall with their ACW Engineering 418 WBMK S4 Toyota Hilux. They had to change the ECU shortly before the start of the event and simply ran out of time to find their normal power. Julian Calvert (Goodwood) and Marius Rudolph (Bothasig) gradually ran out of gears on their 409 CCMCC S3 VW Golf MkIII GTi 2.0 and seventh overall was something of a relief with only first and third gears remaining.

Eighth overall and the final team classified as finishers was 65 CCMCC S2 Toyota Corolla TRD 1.6 of Warren Köhler (Heathfield) and Jean-Pierre Jacobs. This car was shedding it’s rear suspension and reached Parc Fermé running four tracks for additional grip. Two more teams would reach Parce Fermé under Super Rally rules with Erin Joshua (Retreat) and Dylan Timmes bringing their 462 CCMCC S3 Toyota Tazz 1.6 home with Mustapha Mia (Kensington) and Yaseen Amlay (Retreat) also reaching home after many frustrations in their Ramlay Builders 456 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6.

Winston Neethling (Kensington) and Randall Marais (Kensington) retired the spectacular Howard Centre Motors 428 CCMCC S4 Nissan Skyline 3.1 early in SS5 when the oil pump drive belt snapped. Trevor Hodges (Ottery) and Ian Thebus (Edgemead) had to call it a day in SS3 when their 421 CCMCC VW Golf MkIII GTi 2.0 20v consumed it’s seventh engine. Paul Emmanuel and Robin Benjamin (Heathfield) called it a day early SS1 with overheating problems in their 449 CCMCC S4 VW Polo 2.0 and similar problems saw husband and wife Johann Zulch (Ceres) and Petra Zulch (Ceres) retire their Ceres Toyota 439 WBMK S2 Ford Escort 1600 Sport after SS1.

By normal standards the first Darling Rally could certainly be considered a bruising event, but then local teams were thoroughly tested in the wet conditions. Compliments to Billy Thorpe and his team who certainly provided local competitors and spectators with a superb new event. Kirsten Vervoer, Farm-AG, A&A Powder Coaters and the Darling Country Club deserve credit for their support of what will hopefully now become a fixture on the annual Western Cape Rally Championship.

Compliments too on the innovative high pressure car wash provided at the service park. These are the little extras that earn the respect of the competitors and make events popular. Perfect weather and a perfect start and finish venue makes this an event to remember, even if you did not achieve the result you desired! Good to note the presence of a number of “retired” rallyists such as Willem Louw and Mike Nathan with Tony Norton, Cobus Erasmus and Rossouw Eksteen also putting in an appearance.

Great to see regular rally photographer Eric Joseph joined by Gordon Robertson (G Sport), Abri de Bruin (Cloud 9). Their photographs will be supporting this summary.  Now it is time for another completely different challenge as the Western province Motor Club All Tar Rally will see rally competitors joined by the racing fraternity at the Killarney International Raceway on 3-4 August 2018. Another extremely popular spectator event, do not miss round 5 of the 2018 Western Cape Rally Championship!