Darling was Hot!

Darling was hot. No, Darling was extremely hot. No-no, Darling was bloody hot. Actually no, Darling was almost unbearably hot as temperatures soared to 41ºC at the second spectator point – turning every rally car into an uncomfortable oven!

John and Weston Peiser won the opening round of the 2020 Championship by a scant twelve seconds in their Speed Pro Cycling Components 425 CPMCC S5 Subaru Impreza GT 4x4 Turbo 2.0. Winning only special stage four they started the eighth and final special stage with a 36 second advantage, but then the Scoobie ran bearings and tore off driveshaft bolts before arriving at the Parc Fermé control with the temperature gauge redlining and with some rather expensive sound effects emanating from the engine bay. It was close!

Believe it or not this engine has seen eleven seasons of rallying and it finally expired in extreme rallying conditions. This might as well have been called Dakar in Darling. For Shaun Jones and Jason Thorpe the complete opposite applies as they have possibly built eleven engines in as many months before finally getting their Advanced Asphalting 424 CPMCC S5 Subaru Impreza STi 2.0 Turbo 4x4 to reach the end of consecutive rallies. Had they been aware of the Peiser plight they would possibly have risked pushing harder on the final stage but unknowingly they still closed the gap to just twelve seconds for a well deserved second position overall. Was it not for an exploding tyre?

Defending champions, Llewellyn Jones and Christophé Pichon, did everything right to win seven of the eight special stages. Except for the puncture on special stage four, which they managed to change in four minutes, dropping to fourth overall in the CEJ Plant Hire 434 CPMCC S5 Subaru Impreza STi 2.0 Turbo 4x4. Dominating the second round of four stages they simply could not recover the lead and settled for third overall.

For the 1910 Cape Peninsula Motorcycle and Car Club podium dominance in celebration of their 110th year was sweet reward for years of motorsport passion!

Fourth overall would go to the superbly driven Shatterfix 477 WPMC S2 Volkswagen Golf MkI 1.6i of Sakkie van Zyl and Henry Köhne, but there was a touch of fortune involved as another stunning performance was thwarted in sight of the finale spectator point on the final stage when a broken CV saw cousins, Riyaan and Yaseen Amlay, forced to retire their Ramlay Builders 433 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6i. Starting the finale stage with almost three minutes in hand it was a bitter blow to see the Corolla grind to a halt almost within sight of the flying finish.

Fifth spot was another hotly contested affair with the position eventually claimed by the debutant brother and sister combination of Owen (18 years of age) and Tessa (16 years of age) Jones in their CEJ Plant Hire 454 CPMCC S5 VW Polo 1.6 Turbo. They too benefitting from the misfortune of another brother and sister debutant team when Juneyed and Reyanah Edas saw their hard earned fifth spot become sixth overall after they incurred a five minute early penalty in their impressive ex-Tjaart van der Walt Hyundai Malmesbury 466 CCMCC S3 Toyota Tazz 1.6i.

Paul van Wyk and Tania Vermaak pleased with seventh spot overall in their acciDent Guru 469 WBMK S3 Volkswagen Golf MkI 2.0 8v having lost some six minutes in special stage two. Driving just behind their teammates on the special stage they arrived on the scene of Piet Bakkes and Shaun Visser having left the road and with no medical board visible they stopped to see if help was required – only to get stuck in the soft sand! They recovered but the extreme heat had the better of Paul van Wyk, who required half a swimming pool supply of cold water to reach the final control.

It was something of a culture shock to see the “Yellow Submarine” in the hands of bothers, Rupert and Pieter van Zyl, and now in class S4. They picked up a time consuming puncture midway through special stage one, broke both rear shockabsorbers and bent a few other things enroute to eighth overall but reaching the finish did leave a satisfied smile on their faces. It might not be the quickest car in the field but the Mitsubishi Lancer GT certainly is a finisher of note!

Gareth and Gillian Vernon as always very consistent and the couple were simply happy to reach the end in ninth overall before melting in their 459 CPMCC S1 / S2 Volkswagen Golf MkI 1.4i. Julian Calvert and new navigator, Nicholas Knights, finished their first event as a team in tenth spot overall with their Liewe Lulu 409 CPMCC S3 Volkswagen Golf MkIII GTi 2.0 8v.

Final finishers in 11th spot overall was Piet Bakkes and Shaun Visser in their acciDent Guru 419 WBMK S3 Volkswagen Golf MkI 2.0 8v. To his credit Piet did not roll the car and also succeeded in avoiding all things of solid nature, but true to Bakkes tradition he did encounter an uncomfortable and somewhat dramatic incident when the steering wheel came off in his hands on SS2 and they beached the Golf in the soft sand.

Piet and Shaun did not discuss Akausi Wagyu beef whilst extricating their stricken Golf. Nope, they managed to break the start button, get their teammates stuck and lost loads of time before finally getting going again. Somehow they dropped out of sight to such a degree even the Sweep Car managed to forget about their presence, closing special stage three before they could start the stage.

This time they discussed Japanese Black Wagyu enroute to special stage four, having been promised an average time for stage three. The only signs of thunder the little dark cloud hanging above the silver Golf! Good to have you back Piet Bakkes, local rallies just got a little more interesting again. In fact, Lance and Rosemarie Maytham even forgot to award them with their traditional wooden spoon award as final finishers. And a glowing Billy Thorpe was too tired to remind them!

Johann and Petra Zulch retired their neat Ceres Toyota 439 WBMK S2 Ford Escort 1600 Sport, before it could start leaking oil, after special stage two with a very unhappy sounding engine. The couple will be back, but with an alternative powerplant anticipated.

Brothers, Clint and Lloyd Lingeveldt, looked good through special stage one in their D&S Motorsport 435 CCMCC S3 Toyota Tazz 1.6i but the clutch cried enough during special stage two whilst Kevin Calvert and Brian Hoskins had the fuel tank of their neat KC Transport Rental 436 WPMC S3 Volkswagen Golf MkI 1.6i rattle loose on stage two and the resultant fuel leak forced them to retire the car.

Derick Clift and Marius Rudolph clocked into the TC for special stage one and by the time they reached the start control they had a flat left front tyre on their Potenza Oil 418 CPMCC S4 Toyota Hilux 2.0 LDV. They were forced to change the tyre just clear of the control and then a sideshaft broke on SS3 to finally spoil their day.

After a long break it was really nice to hear the sound of the ex-Hannes Grobler Howard Place Motors 428 CCMCC S5 Nissan Sentra 2.0 4x4 of Winston Neethling and Randall Marais again, but they were forced to retire the car when the rear shockabsorbers broke on special stage four. Trevor Hodges and Ian Thebus even less fortunate when the engine of their Team Extreme 421 CCMCC S4 Volkswagen Golf MkIII GTi 2.0 16v cried enough on SS2.

Matt-Jason Köhler and Lloyd Brady looked feisty in their CrestMax 401 Volkswagen Golf MkI 1.6i but possibly the lure of chasing after Sakkie van Zyl (just eight seconds ahead) resulted in them rolling the car quite comprehensively on SS3. Fortunately both crew members walked away unscathed but the same could not be said of the Golf.

Despite the almost unbearable heat of the day the amount of spectators present was most encouraging and as always their conduct complimentary. Do not expect to see the Darling event on the same date in 2021 as Billy Thorpe and his team actually completed the arrowing of the stages under full moon conditions when the heat simply became too much during the day. Michael Duckitt will be looking at alternative dates for 2021.  

If ever marshals deserved the gratitude of each and every competitor this event earned them huge respect as the heat was truly stifling, the dust incredible. On a lighter note the ever friendly Robert Marle looked good as secretary whilst for once the radio amateurs deserved to spend the day in their air conditioned vehicles. The background guys and girls truly the real stars of the opening round of Western Cape rallying.

A bonus at prizegiving was the presence of Daan and Liz Terblanché.