The Day of the Mini! 9th Lions Vredendal Gymkhana

The 9th Lions Vredendal Gymkhana in the Matzikama will long be remembered as the day on which the AHI Racing Mini duo struck! Locking out the top two podium positions was unexpected, the order and absolute dominance in which they did a shock to the established regulars in the sport.

Facing a longer than normal Vredendal route in abnormally cool conditions had many of the teams quietly protesting, but the only real concern was the tyre burning V8 Corolla of Dynotech. Walter van Dyk turned absolutely pale when he saw the route whilst Fanie du Toit did not seem to find it to his liking either. Dewald van der Merwe, being the business man he is, immediately saw an opportunity and having redrawn the entire route found himself negotiating copies for those in need! 

In essence the route was an exact copy of the 8th Lions Vredendal with the various obstacles simply shifting position and the top loop being repeated to make this the longest gymkhana route to date. Striking hard it was Natheer and Rafique Firfirey that simply drilled the opposition in their Supercharged AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S 1.6. The light blue 2002 Mini had also been tweaked by Leon Engelbrecht and though it always looked very menacing somehow it never lived up to expectations. Winning the opening run by some eight seconds had everyone sit up and take notice. Was this just a fluke?

Delivering a reputed 193kW and 362Nm much was expected from the Turbocharged silver AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S 1.6. Sounding as good as a well prepped WRC Mini it certainly looked quick but though Rafique would eventually boast the fastest time of the day, he would be restricted to second overall with Natheer Firfirey as navigator. His incredible pace and consistency heralds the arrival of another championship candidate as his performance on the day certainly was simply stunning.

Third overall would normally be considered acceptable, but this time it demoralised Fanie and Zac du Toit in their FM Civils class A winning Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v as they had given their absolute best and simply could not come close to threatening the Mini clan. Pierre du Plessis and Walter van Dyk another surprise in fourth overall with their Du Plessis Auto class B Toyota Conquest 1.8. This the legendary class C  du Plessis Conquest but with 1800 power really suiting the flamboyant driving style of Pierre.
Putting all of the above in perspective is the fact that the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 16v of Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dewald van der Merwe could only manage fifth overall. Considered by most to be the car to beat on a good day the four times WBMK champion driver simply found the pace at the front too hot on this occasion. Clocking in with some 167kW and 252Nm on tap the “new” Du Plessis Auto class A Toyota Conquest of Jacques and Pierre du Plessis challenged the Mini in sound and visual appeal on track, but with some work required on the brakes the brothers were surprisingly content with sixth position overall. There is clearly much more to come from this little Conquest!

Kobus Wilson Jnr and Werner McDonald may have lacked the sheer grunt of the more powerful cars ahead of them but still impressed with another stunning drive to seventh overall in their class F Datsun GX DeLuxe Sedan 1.4i. They define the term living on the limit as there simply are no reserves available. Proving to be an equal to the blue Datsun on the day was Anton and André Smit in their Innovative Woodwork class F Nissan-Toyota LDV 1.6. Posting a time 1.3 seconds faster than their opponents the father-son combination simply could not repeat the feat and had to settle for eighth overall. The tussle between the two top contenders in class F always a highlight on every event.

Finding the flowing nature of the 9th Liions Vredendal route more to their liking even Johann Zulch and Cobus Viola gave it some stick in the Ceres Toyota supported class E E30 BMW 325iM to finish in a very credible 9th position overall. The ever consistent brother-sister pairing of Morné Roux and Liezel Oosthuizen completing the top ten in their class A Mazda 323 EGi 2.0 16v. As always both Johann Zulch and Morné Roux challenging for the title as most consistent on the day but they were beaten by an unlikely opponent, Pierre du Plessis!

Also showing vast improvement in eleventh overall was the brother-sister combination of Masood Dangor and Aatera Firfirey in the third AHI Racing Mini, the Supercharged 2007 Cooper S Cabriolet 1.6 whilst Aatera Firfirey and Liezel Oosthuizen impressed with twelfth overall in the same AHI Racing Mini Cooper S Cabriolet 1.6. Clearly the track days at Killarney have allowed for rapid development.

Dewald van der Merwe and Izak van Zyl Snr gave it their all in the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi Turbo 2.0 16v but could only hold onto thirteenth spot whilst Aatera and Rafique Firfirey claimed fourteenth spot as husband and wife in the impressive silver AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S Turbocharged 1.6.

Morné Roux and Liezel Oosthuizen impressed with 15th overall in their class D winning Toyota Yaris 1.3 proving that power is not all that is required to succeed at gymkhana driving. Liezel Oosthuizen and Aatera Firfirey 16th in the class A Mazda 323 EGi 2.0 16v with Liezel and Aatera also in 17th spot as an all ladies entry in the class I Toyota Yaris 1.3. Interesting to note that Liezel found her times split by a single second despite the obvious power difference between the Mazda and Toyota.

Christo Herbst and Stephan Geldenhuys topped the local representatives with an impressive 18th overall in their class F Nissan LDV 1.4 and the Vredendal duo were followed home by the Automark second hand car dealers, Dewald Goosen and Johann Compion in their class C winning Toyota Etios 1.5. Vredendal Toyota not only the title sponsors of this event but they also sportingly entered the Etios as a challenge between the 2nd hand vehicle department and new car sales. Judging hy this result Stove Pipe and Mopkop are the people to speak to about your next Toyota?

The top twenty completed by Liezel Oosthuizen and Aatera Firfirey in the hard working class D Toyota Yaris 1.3. Hennie Hoffmeyer and Morné Roux had their class C Nissan Sentra 1.6 attempt rallying and sheer enthusiasm saw it last long enough to record a fighting 21st overall. New Car duo, Jaco “Fat Man” Smith and Johan “Red Rocket” Rossouw, claiming 22nd spot in the class C Vredendal Toyota Etios 1.5. They have vowed to return …

Johan Geldenhuys and Pieter Louw brought the first class G Audi A3 Turbo 1.8 to gymkhana events in the region and enjoyed the experience so much that they could well be present at the balance of events for 2015. 23rd Overall served as a good appetiser for more. The extremely hard working class C VW Golf MkI 1.6 of Christo Herbst and Stephan Geldenhuys survived to finish 24th overall.

Father-son Hendrik and Mario Arp could not master the route in their class G Nissan 200SX Turbo 2.0 but enjoyed some serious sideways driving until they ran out of rear rubber. Changing sides they encountered the same problem regarding footwear on the Nissan. Izak van Zyl Jnr and Snr sportingly ran only one loop of each run and made their tyre wear problems clear by popping the rears shortly before reaching the finish line of the first run in the awesome Dynotech class G Toyota Corolla V8 4.0. Dewald van der Merwe and Izak van Zyl Snr suffering the same fate in the same car whilst the Opel Astra 2.0 Turbo 8v of Jaco Gagiano and Ruhan Rossouw developed a terminal oil leak. Jaco the first Koekenaap based driver to enter a Gymkhana!

The single seater class went to those with least tyre wear problems and it was Kobus Wilson Jnr who impressed with consistency in his Datsun GX Sedan 1.4i. His best times only 0.12 seconds apart. Dewald van der Merwe second in the Dynotech VW Golf MkII GTi Turbo 2.0 16v with Izak van Zyl Jnr third in the very sideways Dynotech Toyota Corolla V8 4.0. Undoubtedly still the crowd favourite for sheer spectacle the manner in which this man controls this Toyota has to be seen to truly appreciate a master at work.
Christoff de Wit unfortunately had to withdraw his class H Ford Escort MkII 1.6 with a broken ring but will be back for more. As always Danie Burger was present to record all the action on HD DVD and behind the scenes the team in Race HQ was really put to the test when the scoring computer called in sick after just one run. André Mitchell and Anette Vermaak saving the day with much assistance from Nelmarie Mitchell and Carmen Nortjé. Fortunately the Jayen Timer ran faultlessly and Dewald and Meghan Nortjé saw to it that start and finish recorded few errors. Desmond Harding accepted duty as Pit Bull in order for André Brinkman to accept the role of Judge of Fact.

A special word of thanks to Vredendal Toyota, Matzikama Municipality, SAP, Maskam Hotel, Vredendal Hotel, EDK Besigheidsmasjiene, Koelbly Coca-Cola and Radio Namakwaland 93.4Fm. The customary prizegiving at the Lions Clubhouse, incorporating THE tastiest braai in the Western Cape, lasted until somewhere shortly before sunrise. There are many names behind the scenes deserving of our gratitude as competitors, officials and spectators but Nico van Zyl and Jurgen Smith as front men represent a great bunch of people!

A huge compliment to the spectator support is also deserved as the very vocal crowd become a part of the atmosphere at this venue. The absence of Spiderman actually saw a spectator turn on his heels as his favourite team would not be contesting the event? If you have ever wondered if someone noticed you – this was more than adequate proof that you are special to someone out there!

Be sure not to disappoint your supporters when the Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship returns to the Matzikama later in 2015 for a second event.