Fanie and Kobus the champions, Rafique and Aatera the winners

The 2014 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship came to a brilliant conclusion with the 6th Du Plessis Auto Gymkhana in Ceres on Saturday 15 November 2014. No less than 49 teams ventured through Mitchell’s Pass in light rain conditions, light rain as those feeling adventurous could still cross the river via Slanghoek.

Jacques du Plessis and Johann Zulch welcoming the early birds standing in a pool of water, which they were attempting to sweep off the new route at the station storage facilities. Compared to what they had already moved to make this event feasible the pool of water was a relaxing experience. With the aid of Pierre du Plessis and Walter van Dyk the Ceres bunch had really delivered a very challenging venue in almost no time.

It started wet, then sections remained wet, whilst surface changes included cement, tar and even steel with levels of grip almost impossible to predict initially. Then teams were also facing a new challenge whereby they would be entering dark stores en exit into bright light (depending on the ever present cloud cover), up and own a weighbridge which had the potential to see cars lift off depending on just how badly you wanted that better time. Except for the three plastic cones on the course no other obstacle would be budging from any errant vehicle contact and it was starting to take effect on the competitors walking the course, again, and again, and once more to evaluate each potential hazard and gain there might be.

Documentation and Race HQ looked strange as no gazebo would be required inside the enormous shed, but the predicted 16ºC felt more like -16ºC thanks to the presence of a gusty South Westerly wind. With the initial butterflies settled and Anette Vermaak satisfied that all documentation was in place the Du Plessis Auto class C Toyota Conquest RSi 1.6 of Jacques “Kuite” du Plessis and Danye Louw burst into action as the first car on route. Given the look of absolute shock and disbelief on the faces of the bulk of the 49 strong drivers it was an extremely challenging route and one that would test their resilience to extremes.

With the 2014 overall and class championships at stake each team arrived with their own dedicated strategy, but the “abnormal” route left everyone on their back feet as nobody really knew what to expect nor how to attack this strange new playground. For once everyone tested the water on their first run and then posted a fair second time as banker before going for it on round three. Anyone of five teams started the fourth and final run with a chance of grabbing overall victory but the three most likely to do it would all be first time victors and this created a fantastic atmosphere at the venue.

Rafique and Aatera Firfirey threw caution to the wind and produced a scintillating performance to post the fastest time for the day on their final run in the rampant AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S Turbo 1.6, clinching their first ever overall victory and the  class G championship. Their final effort around the triple 360% was absolutely mind blowing perfect. Leon Engelbrecht and Natheer Firfirey led overall going into the final run and looked impressive enroute to what looked like overall victory, that is until their AHI Racing Mini Cooper S Turbo 1.6 teammates decided to really go for big.

Jean-Pierre Robberts and Kobus Wilson Jnr defended Boland honour with their best effort to date in the freshly rebuilt Breedevallei Truck Centre / Autozone class A Opel Kadett GSi 2.0 16v. The Worcester combination really taking the fight to AHI and eventually succeeding in splitting the podium. Undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the day and very impressive indeed.

Try as only they know how the du Plessis brothers had to accept fourth and fifth overall in their rapid class C Toyota Conquest RSi 1.6. Jacques du Plessis and Danye Louw just ahead of Pierre du Plessis and Walter van Dyk.  It simply was not possible to wring anything more from the willing Toyota.

Anton and Adri Smit made the most of their first set of new tyres and the Innovative Woodwork Datsun LDV finally found a way in which to put the lively Toyota 1600 engine delivery down on the road surface, taking a remarkable sixth overall and first spot in class F. Kobus Wilson Jnr and Jean-Pierre Robberts shadowing them home in the seventh placed 1976 class F Datsun GX DeLuxe Sedan 1.4i. The smaller capacity rear wheel drive cars truly impressive. Lifting wheels at every corner and lifting off at times these two entries kept the crowd captivated. Kobus and Jean-Pierre the most consistent combination with just 0.1 second differentiation between their two best times.

Brent Laurings and Duncan Andrews gave their absolute best in the 1984 class A Opel Kadett GTE 2.0, but problems with the powersteering had them defending rather than attacking and with Fanie du Toit and Kobus Wilson Jnr claiming ninth spot they had to settle for second place in the championship. The 2014 crown going to the Worcester combination of ”Vinnige” Fanie du Toit and Kobus Wilson Jnr in the FM Civils class A Mazda Rsutler LDV 2.0 16v. Eight points separated the two teams going into the final round with the final separation seven points. Priority was to stay close or ahead of the Opel duo, which saw them struggling to really attack for victory.

Outgoing Witzenberg Motorklub champions, Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dewald van der Merwe, content to accept tenth overall in their normally dominant Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 16v. Losing the class G championship almost an unheard of for the combination that really set this category alight. Rest assured, they will be back in 2015.
In complete contrast the bog standard class C Mazda 323 160i of Morné Roux and Liezel Oosthuizen achieved an incredibly good eleventh place overall after another four almost identical runs as we are accustomed to from the popular brother and sister combination.

Danie Burger recently started onboard filming for his DVD productions of each WBMK Gymkhana and the new insight into the sport have taken interest to an all time high. It remains a challenge to obtain family quality renditions of certain teams but it certainly is very educational to watch. AHI Racing claimed 12th overall with Natheer and Rafique Firfirey and then Shamiel Brown and Natheer Firfirey slotted another AHI Racing Mini into 13th spot with Walter van Dyk and Pierre du plessis 14th overall in the rapid class G VW Golf MkI Turbo 2.0.

Masood Dangor and Rafique Firfirey placed their AHI racing Mini Cooper S 1.6 in 15th spot with Hilton Africa and Shaun-Dean Kasner best of the newcomers in 16th spot with their neat Willie’s Service Centre class C Volkswagen Fox 1.6. Johann Zulch and Tania Vermaak earned a few voyager miles enroute to 17th spot overall in their Ceres Toyota assisted E30 class E BMW 325iM. The veteran rallyist one of the few willing to literally ramp onto the weighbridge.

Leon Engelbrecht and Pieter King suffered two broken CV joints on their Eikestad Plastic Repairs class A VW Golf MkI 2.0 and had to accept 18th overall on the day whilst Dewald van der Merwe and Izak van Zyl Jnr also adopted a more sedate approach enroute to 19th overall in the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi Turbo 2.0 16v. The top twenty rounded off by Danye Louw and Jacques du Plessis in the indecently fast Red Bull class G VW Golf MkI 2.0 of Tersius van Tonder. Danye even attempting to feed the Red Bull some grass but never really getting to grips with the car.

Izak van Zyl Snr and Dewald van der Merwe enjoyed their day in the 4.0 V8 Lexus powered 1984 Dynotech class G Toyota Corolla and slithered their way into 21st spot with Aatera and Rafique Firfirey claiming 22ns spot in, you guessed it, a AHI Racing Mini Cooper S 1.6. Stephan Brand and Jean-Pierre Robberts made number 42 sound familiar again by “smoking” their ex-Danye Louw E36 class E BMW 328i to 23rd overall.  Ettiene Swart and Izak van Zyl Jnr claimed the class D victory and 24th overall in their Cape Fire & Aircon VW Golf MkI Citi 1.4i.

Nic and Liezel Oosthuizen 25th overall in their Venusion class C VW Polo Playa 1.6i whilst Liezel shared the same car with her brother Morné Roux to claim 26th spot and with Tania Vermaak navigating they also slotted into 27th spot for 1st place as all ladies combination. Not only winning the class on the day but also taking the 2014 class  championship for good measure.

The blue class F Witzenberg Bande Ford Escort MkII 2.0 of Hermie de Kock and Louis Groenewald respectively 28th and 29th overall with the crew swopping seats. This the last time the blue Escort contested a gymkhana as they are now busy finishing off the ex-Danye Louw Ford Escort for the new year. Tersius van Tonder and Jacques du Plessis unfortunately not classified as finishers having arrived just in time to see Danye Louw damage the gearbox on the Red Bull VW Golf.

In the single seater category it was Jean-Pierre Robberts who set the pace in his Breedevallei Truck Centre / Atozone Opel Kadett GSi 2.0 16v with the rejuvenated Innovative Woodwork Datsun LDV 1.6 of Anton Smit second, the equally impressive Datsun GX Sedan 1.4i of Kobus Wilson Jnr third and the Opel Kadett GTE 2.0 of Brent Laurings fourth. Dewald van der Merwe placed the Dynotech VW Golf MkII GTi Turbo 2.0 16v fifth whilst Fanie du Toit claimed sixth in his FM Civils Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v.
Seventh in class H for Izak van Zyl Jnr and the 4.0 V8 Lexus powered 1984 Toyota Corolla was of little concern as the tail happy combination had the crowd standing and cheering for more every time it showed it’s nose from the pit area. Without a doubt the most spectacular driver of the year and as a package it will take some doing to provide a more spectacular show in any car.  

A number of non-scoring entries bolstered the field but most encouraging was the presence of a number of young navigators in training. Brent Laurings had his son Divan working hard in the Opel Kadett GTE 2.0 whilst Pierre du Plessis had his son Wynand showing the way in the Du Plessis Auto Toyota Conquest RSi 1.6. To top it all he also allowed his daughter Zaandré to navigate for Walter van Dyk in the Televideo VW Golf MkI Turbo 2.0. Fanie du Toit had his son Zac navigate in the FM Civils Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v and rumours have it that a number of the ladies will also be returning to the sport in 2015.

Also good to note Donevan Denyssen of UNIREF present as were Nathan Turner and special mention must be made of the SA Paramedic present at this event. Even when a car suffered a mechanical failure such as a broken CV (and there were five of those) Deon Olivier would approach the team to ensure the driver and navigator were fine! His obvious enthusiasm was hard to ignore and he is now a dedicated supporter of the Izak van Zyl V8 Corolla!

Speaking of enthusiasm. Galil Firfirey had so much confidence in Rafique and Aatera he had a class G champion sticker ready as they drove into the pits after that incredible final run. And there is never a shortage of proud fathers present either!

Though the Ceres event might be known as the Du Plessis Auto Gymkhana they have the support of a number of people and concerns to retain it’s status as one of the most popular on the annual calendar. In no particular order sincere thanks to the following: FM Civils – Kobus Wilson Jnr – First National Batterye – Mobile Trekker Dienste – Televideo – Goeie Hoop Vrugte – H.J.Nichols – S.T.B. – Trysome Cape Town – Autozone Cape Town – CVC Ceres – Turners Auto – Ocean Plant Mix – Midas Ceres – Space television – oom Jacobus – Piet and Patrys Dunn – T&T Glas – Parts Incorporated Cape Town – Johann Zulch – Gud Filters – Diesel Electric Worcester en Witzenberg Herald.

Special mention simply have to be made of Piet and Patrys Dunn for the customary Spare Ribs prepared for the Players prizegiving – it is simply in a class of it’s own and well worth the trip to the Boland irrespective of any potential on track results. As always the Jayen Timer was in perfect order with André Mitchell providing the information required to Score the event with Anette Vermaak and Nicola Consani behind the computer. As always Dewald and Meghan Nortjé took care of the Start and Finish duties with André Brinkman as Senior Judge of Fact. Pierre van der Westhuizen doubled as the Clerk of the Course and as Commentator.

Compliments to “Die Stoor” clan, this was a stunning conclusion to the 2014 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship and congratulations to Fanie du Toit and Kobus Wilson Jnr as the overall WBMK driver and navigator champions.