The heat is on!

Just one week until the 2019 Western Cape Rally Champions will be crowned. Rozario “Sonny” Bonafede and Ralph Behm won the inaugural championship in 1964 with an ex-works French Simca 1000 and both would become legends of the sport in their own right. Few would argue that Sonny Bonafede was the standard by which rallies were organised as he knew routes that maps did not know about whilst Ralph Behm would lead the sport from the top seat for almost 27 years before retiring in the year 2000.

Vito Bonafede need no introduction as the navigator for Serge Damseaux and now Gennaro Bonafede is carving an international career with BMW. Richard Behm added a Western Cape drivers title to the five navigator titles of Ralph and certainly impressed on the national scene. There have been many individual champions, but these two individuals, Sonny Bonafede and Ralph Behm, cast the foundation on which the oldest provincial sporting championship in the Republic of South Africa had been built.

When the first car leaves the start line from Hyundai Malmesbury at 09h00 on Saturday 5 October 2019 most of the truly hard work behind the scenes will have been completed for the CCMCC Riebeek Valley Rally. The Time and Distance Schedule forms the backbone of the day, but the Clerk of the Course and his dedicated team of officials stand to be tested throughout the event as so many unexpected surprises could result in decisions having to be made in the best interest of competitors, spectators and the sport in general. The route is set and 31 teams running at two minute intervals have to complete eight special stages linked by liaison sections to the best of their abilities before reaching the finale Parc Fermé at Pulpit Rock Winery in Riebeek Wes. The only real opportunity to catch their breath would be during the mid event Service Park at the Meiring Primary School Riebeek Kasteel.

Rule number one in rallying states that drivers do not make mistakes, which puts quite a load on the shoulders of the navigators. Rule number two simply refers to rule number one. In short, winning the class or rally simply reflects a brilliant performance from the driver whilst anything else represents poor performance from the navigator. If you believe that, you have to be a driver!

Team work is critical to success as the Clerk of the Course relies on the competence of his radio operators, route vehicles such as the 00 – 0 and Sweep, Time Control marshals, medical crew and many more to keep the event running on time whilst everyone in the individual rally teams are critical to success as competitors. Sometimes, simply reaching the finish is a victory of note.

Llewellyn Jones (Somerset West) and Christophé Pichon (Welgemoed) could be the first car on the road come Saturday in the CEJ Plant Hire 434 CPMCC S5 Subaru WRX STi 2.0 Turbo AWD. A one point cushion simply not enough to take a cautious approach and as many will agree, sticking to a normal game plan inevitably proves less risky.

It has been some time since anyone from the Hottentots Holland district have claimed the Western Cape Rally Drivers title and Llewellyn Jones could now bring that distinction home to Somerset West. Serge Damseaux (10 times SA and 16 times WP Rally Drivers Champion) dominated the local scene but the last Somerset West based driver to win the championship (12 years ago) was in fact Jean-Pierre Damseaux in the awesome Team Total A7 Toyota Corolla 2.0 (2006 – 2007).

Paul-Hendrik Franken (Gansbaai) and Matt-Jason Köhler (Heathfield) would however be doing their best to claim the honour for the Overberg in their Franken Motorsport 125 WPMC S5 Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT 1.0 Turbo. When they arrive at the start of the opening round of the 2019 Championship in Darling nobody, including the organisers, knew what to expect from this cheeky little three cylinder production based and privately developed project car.

That is, until it finished a spirited second overall on debut. A result which soon led to the announcement that Volkswagen would be supporting a unique Vivo GT Cup Challenge at national level in 2020. Now going into the final event of it’s debut season the amazing little car stands to make history in South African motorsport by challenging for top honours.

Adriaan De Villiers “Diffie” Marais (Caledon) and Danie de Waal (Caledon) won the 1997 Western Province Rally Championship in another unusual rally weapon, their Waalkom Petroleum Fiat Uno Pacer 1600 running like clockwork. They would go on to win the very first Gp N2 South African class championship in the first Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6i rally car, but now the name De Villiers Marais is challenging another second generation rider, David Ellis (son of veteran racer André Ellis), on off road motorcycles.

Road position may become a factor this weekend as sweeping could influence the championship chase on the first loop of stages whilst a lower position will allow the opportunity to monitor the opposition. Irrespective Ismaeel Davids (Rondebosch) and Yusuf Ganief (Surrey Estate) can only go flatout and hope that their rivals run into problems. A poor decision to swop cars on the Tarmac Rally and then two unforced driving errors on the most recent Swartland Rally have spoiled their 2019 championship aspirations in the ID Paving 431 CCMCC S5 Toyota Run X 2.0 4x4. Ironically the S2000 Toyota was formerly campaigned at national level by Jean-Pierre Damseaux.

Kelvin Mhlanga (Zambia) and Robbie Coetzee (South Africa) won the Trac N4 South African Rally Championship event overall in their Team Wildcat S2000 Toyota Run X 2.0 4x4 on Saturday 28 September 2019 ahead of the entire R2N field.

Congratulations to Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle on winning their sixth consecutive championship in the Gazoo R2N Toyota Etios and to Etienne Malherbe (South Africa) and Dr Ray Jutley (Kenya) as the Classic champions of 2019. Almost as good as the news that the Kenya Safari Rally is back on the World Rally Championship calender 16-19 July 2020 after an 18 year sabbatical.  

Adding to the championship challenge is the presence of a number of potential spoiler entries. Panorama based John Peiser (08-11-14-18 WP Rally Drivers Champion) and Weston Peiser (14-18 WP Rally Navigators Champion) have missed most of the 2019 season with their trusty Speed Pro Cycling Components 425 WPMC S5 Subaru Impreza GT 2.0 Turbo AWD being rebuilt in anticipation of another serious title chase in 2020. The perfect shakedown would be winning the final event of 2019.

Shaun Jones (Durbanville) won the WP Rally Drivers Championship in 2016 and with Jason Thorpe as navigator the Advanced Asphalting 424 CPMCC S5 Subaru WRX STi 2.0 Turbo AWD proved that it has both pace and reliability when they finished second on the Swartland Rally. Keeping up with the Jones family is tough, beating them just got a little more difficult.  

A focused Mike Nathan (Tableview) is a very difficult driver to beat and it is believed that the Nathan Motorsport 417 CPMCC S5 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Turbo 2.0 AWD has been given it’s full snap crackle and pop status and an experienced navigator is expected to be announced soon.  

Having retired from the recent Swartland Rally with a quite literally melting engine some doubt existed as to whether Keenan Sassman (Monte Vista) and Randall Marais (Kensington) would be able to make the start of the Riebeek Valley Rally in their Barno 413 CCMCC S4 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.8i. Fortunately they have Clinton Sassman (father) steering the recovery process and the car will indeed be present. Unfortunately Randall Marais will be on holiday and Kesevan Naidoo (Kuilsrivier) have been drafted in as navigator. Did we mention that Kesevan prepares the regional Route Notes. (No advantage though, drivers do not listen to navigators)

Derick Clift (Paarl) and Marius Rudolph (Bothasig) will be keeping an eye on their progress in the ECW Engineering 418 CPMCC S4 Toyota Hilux 2.0 LDV as they could still steal the class championship away. With this combination heading to Namibia for the 51st Tara International Rally on 21-23 November 2019 they will have to drive a very intelligent event to both push and preserve their car. Then they also have the presence of the John Deere green Advanced Asphalting 454 CPMCC S4 BMW E36 328i of Owen Jones (Durbanville) and Michelle Taylor (Panorama) to contend with and being a Jones the Beemer will not be hanging around.

Trevor Hodges (Ottery) and Ian Thebus (Edgemead) and the orange Extreme Racing 421 CCMCC S4 would certainly enjoy a great result on the final event of the season and they have the pace to do just that. Charl Strydom (Durbanville) and Sakkie Bosman (Bloubergstrand) will hopefully get the Sabre Paints S4 VW Polo Vivo 2.0 20v seriously dirty for the first time enroute to a good result. Paul Emmanuel (Constantia) and Robin Benjamin (Steenberg) will have the 449 CCMCC VW Polo running hard on the day.

Shaheen Amlay (Kensington) and Taahir Amlay will be sharing the Amlay Motorsport 402 CCMCC S4 Toyota Run X RSi 1.8i of Abduraghman Amlay and should this car prove reliable they could well upset the order at the top of the scoresheet. Ismail Amlay (believe it or not, there is another son from another brother Amlay) will be making his rally debut with Ibraheem Amlay (Retreat) as navigator in the Amlay Motorsport 458 CCMCC S4 Toyota Tazz 1.8i. This car proving competitive in the hands of Ebrahim Mia (Grassy Park), but now an unknown quantity.

Class S3 as always represent the bulk of the entry list and it will undoubtedly prove be very entertaining as Mustapha Mia (Kensington) and Ameen Snell (Ottery) will be determined to win the class in their Mia’s Motorsport 456 CCMCC S3 Toyota Tazz 1.6i. Riyaan Amlay (Grassy Park) and Yaseen Amlay (Retreat) equally determined to swing the result in their favour and the Ramlay Builders 433 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6i will be on the ragged edge all day. Father and daughter, Cobus and Reyanah Edas (Malmesbury), consider this their home event and the ex-Chris de Wit Edas Motorsport 464 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6i will be running a freshly rebuilt engine.

2018 S3 champions, Andy Haigh-Smith (Philadelphia) and Tania Vermaak (Strand), have every intention to finish their troubled 2019 season on a high in their AHS Racing 432 CPMCC – WBMK S3 Mitsubishi Lancer GT 1600. Seraaj Amlay (Lotus River) and Amjad Classen (Lansdowne) have been an impressive addition to the field in their Ramlay Builders 457 CCMCC S3 VW Golf MkIII GTi 2.0 and could also prove to be something of a revelation this weekend. Marius Swart (Stellenbosch) and Angelique Swart (Stellenbosch) are getting to grips with rallying in their EPR 4x4 Sport 438 CPMCC S3 Volkswagen Golf MkI 2.0 8v and have a very good chance to finish on the class podium.

Paul van Wyk (Bloubergstrand) and TBA will be another team hoping for some reliability and the acciDent Guru 469 WBMK S3 Volkswagen Golf MkI 2.0 8v is always more than willing to mix it with the best in the class. Brothers, Clint Lingeveldt (Lansdowne) and Lloyd Lingeveldt (Kenilworth), return in their D&S Motorsport 435 CCMCC Toyota Tazz 1.6i and are keen on giving the neatly rebuilt Tazz and great debut. No truth in the rumour that they may be penalised for an unfair weight advantage. Making their gravel debut will be Theodore Croy (Ottery) and Terry Croy (Ottery) in their 447 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6i, aiming for a morale building finish.

Warren Scholtz (Brackenfell) and Justin Gay (Brackenfell) is another combination that could be quick on the day and their 444 CPMCC S3 VW Polo 2.0 have been developed into a quick and reliable machine. The ever consistent Julian Calvert (Goodwood) and TBA will almost certainly be present in the final Parc Fermé with Liewe Lulu 409 CPMCC S3 VW Golf MkIII GTi 2.0.

Gareth Vernon (Pinelands) and Gillian Vernon (Pinelands) have already bagged the S2 class championship in their S1 specification 459 CPMCC S2 VW Golf MkI 1.4i but it will be Sakkie van Zyl (Wellington) and Henry Köhne (Pretoria) who will be attracting attention as debutant winners in Swartland with the ex-Tiaan Rabe Shatterfix 404 WPMC S2 VW Golf MkI 1.6i. Kevin Calvert (Pinelands) and Brian Hoskins (Tableview) also keen to finish the year with a class win in the KC Transport 436 WPMC S2 VW Golf MkI 1.6i. Warren Köhler (Heathfield) and Dylan Timmes (Muizenberg) make a rare appearance in their classic 65 CCMCC S2 Toyota Corolla TRD 1.6 rwd and this could keep the Golf trio busy.

Clerk of the Course Daan Terblanche (Langebaan) will have the Assistance of Pierre van der Westhuizen (Piketberg) and the CCMCC Riebeek Valley Rally enjoys the valued support of Hyundai Malmesbury, Jarat Tours, PPC Cement, R Waan Media, Ramlay Builders, Pulpit Rock Winery and Kenilworth Karting. Thank you to the various landowners making their roads available for the eights special stages.

Good spectator points will be announced in the Spectator Guide, please support the event in leaving these areas litter free.

Vote for your favourite teams on the various polls on the Facebook events page.