Grip or Slip

Round 4 of the 2019 Western Cape Rally Championship on Saturday 13 July at Killarney International Raceway incorporates a unique Rally vs Track Challenge. The entire event is hosted within the confines of the Killarney complex. Rallyists are out of their gravel comfort zone and the track racers have to adapt to rallying!

Gates open at 7:00am and the action gets underway at 9:00am; Spectator entry is R70 for adults, R20 for scholars under 16 and free for children under 12.

This annual event was previously known as the All Tar Rally; this year, however, under the auspices of the Cape Peninsula Motorcycle and Car Club, it's been rebooted as the Tarmac Rally, with a new Clerk of the Course and fresh new features.

Seven special stages have been laid out using portions of the main circuit, access roads and sections of the Old Pits Paddock, for a total rally distance of 97 kilometres, of which 76 kilometres are in the stages. That's quite short by rallying standards, so the winning margins on the stages, and indeed overall, are likely to be measured in tenths of a second rather than minutes.

It's open to competitors in all the regular Rally classes – S2 (two wheel-drive, up to 1660cc), S3 (two wheel-drive, up to 2050cc), S4 (two wheel-drive, up to 3500cc ) and S5 (all-wheel drive, up to 3500cc) – most of whom are more accustomed to long stages on dirt roads out in the country, and will have to adjust to the tighter confines of the Killarney International Raceway facility.

Nevertheless, rally cars in general are built for explosive acceleration out of slow corners; on tight tarmac stages their responses will be even sharper, treating spectators will be treated to some spectacular sideways action.

But here's the kicker: With all the stages on tar and no necessity to move between stages on public roads, it's possible to open the event to the circuit racing fraternity. Provision has thus been made for racing cars to to be entered in one of three Challenge classes – Class A for cars up a 1650cc, Class B for cars from 1651cc to two litres and Class C for cars with engines bigger than two litres.

Conventional rally rules do apply, however, insofar as each car must have a crew of two – driver and navigator – and a of circuit racing and rallycross competitors have been busy recently fitting a second seat into their cars so they can compete in this unique event.

Among them are the BMW 3 Series drivers of the E36 Group whose sideways gyrations have helped to make rallycross one of the most spectacular motorsport disciplines to be seen at Killarney. Expect them to dominate Class C of the Challenge category and put on a real show through the special stages.

With a lot more entries than a conventional rally and unusually short stages, the action is going to be fast and furious. Will the circuit racers be able to use home turf advantage to show the visitors the way around the complex, or will the rally crews' experience in racing against the clock and, presumably, better communication between crew members give them the edge? We'll find out on the day.