Llewellyn and Christoph dominate the night!

Billy Thorpe and his Cape Peninsula Motorcycle and Car Club organizing committee took quite a serious amount of criticism when they opted to introduce a night event in the 2018 Western Province Rally Championship, but they received even more compliments at the Malmesbury Rugby Clubhouse breakfast prizegiving on Saturday 14 April 2018.

It was clear that night rallies had become something of a forgotten era and when walking through the pre event preparations many vital elements seemed forgotten at home or simply not considered as important as teams had simply never been faced with the challenges presented by rallying in the dark. However, the atmosphere was great and the 19h30 check-run proved a popular decision even though the 0 car schedule differed from the actual route. (A story for another day – Shaun Jones was not at fault! – this time at least)

Friday 13 April 2018 was given the miss by five minutes and it was John and Weston Peiser (Plattekloof) who led the eighteen strong entry away from the Malmesbury Rugby Clubhouse at 00h05 in the Speed Pro Cycling 425 WPMC S5 Subaru Impreza GT Turbo 4x4 2.0. John considering his presence as damage control in the championship as he did not enjoy driving at night (mumbled something about age and the need for sleep). Second off the startline was Oswaldo Mendes (another not keen on losing sleep) and Kesevan Naidoo (Kuilsrivier) in the Skyway 129 WBMK / CCMCC S5 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 4x4 Turbo 2.0 with Llewellyn Jones (Somerset West) and Christoph Pichon (Welgemoed) really attracting attention on their debut start in the ex-Sebastiaan Klaasen CEJ Plant Hire 434 CPMCC S5 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 4x4 Turbo 2.0.

Given the extreme drought in the Western Cape road conditions certainly favoured the 4x4 machinery and this trio was expected to simply drive off into the distance overnight. Ettiene du Toit (Edgemead) and Patrick Vermaak (Strand) expecting to struggle being fourth off the line as the first two wheel drive combination in their Team 467 WBMK S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6.  The completely windless night added extreme dust to the no grip challenge behind the 4x4 trio. Having an extremely hungry duo of S3 challengers following certainly confirmed a challenging event ahead.

Shaheen Amlay (Kensington) and Ibraheem Amlay (Retreat) reverted to their Amlay Motorsport 402 CCMCC S3 Toyota Tazz 1.6 after the regular S4 Run X RSi 1.8 destroyed it’s engine on the final stage of the season opening iKapa Reticulation & Flow Rally Klipdale. In an effort to effect championship damage control they entered the Tazz in S4, but sadly the engine cried enough after the Wittedam opening special stage. Faizal Davids and Terry Croy also forced to retire their Extreme Builders 422 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6 with a multitude of problems with fuel pressure the main culprit.

Oswaldo Mendes (Swakopmund, Namibia) and Kesevan Naidoo (Kuilsrivier) claimed stage one by two seconds, but Llewellyn Jones (Somerset West) and Christoph Pichon (Welgemoed) served notice of their intentions by claiming Wolfgat SS2 by a healthy 17 seconds from Mendes. Sadly, running slightly wide on a fast corner the Oswaldo Mendes and Kesevan Naidoo then had to retire their Scoobie on Nieuwedam SS3 with broken suspension and on SS4 John and Weston Peiser retired their Scoobie with rear differential problems.

Keenan Sassman (Monte Vista) and Clint Lingeveldt brought their A game to the Swartland and managed to maintain their challenge throughout to claim a well deserved second overall behind the all conquering Scoobie of Llewellyn Jones and Christoph Pichon. Ettiene du Toit (Edgemead) and Patrick Vermaak (Strand) third overall and 2nd in class S3 with the Team 467 WBMK S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6. It’s game on in S3!

Ismaeel Davids and Yusuf Ganief survived a trip through a ditch on SS3 and knocked out most of their spotlights, but they persisted and when the unfortunate Darren van Greunen (Bellville) and Quinton Swarts (Langebaan) dropped out of fourth spot with the impressive 415 WBMK S3 Toyota Run X 1.6 on SS6 they were close enough to claim the position in the constantly improving ID Paving 431 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6.

Event title sponsor, Andy Haigh-Smith (Malmesbury), and Tania Vermaak (Strand) twice overshot instructions on SS2 and then drove the AHS Racing 432 CPMCC / WBMK S3 Mitsubishi Lancer GT1600 into a massive hole on SS3 before settling into a good rhythm to finish a most credible 5th overall. With a Boeing 747 Captain, a veteran helicopter pilot and international rally driver as their service crew they had to live up to expectations!

Tariq Khatib and Faiz Idas have also shown vast improvement in 2018 and sixth overall in their neat 412 CCMCC S2 VW Golf Mki I 1.6 certainly showed that they are serious to finish ever event this year. Matt Köhler and Wendy Mitchell another debutant team in seventh with their class winning 401 CCMCC S1 VW Golf MkI 1.4i. John Clift (Struisbaai) and Derick Clift (Paarl) the final classified finishers in the class winning ACW Engineering 418 WBMK S4 Toyota Hilux 2.0. Their only hiccup a puncture.

Riyaan Amlay (Grassy Park) and Yaseen Amlay (Retreat) unfortunately found themselves stuck in the soft sand on SS3 and eventually returned to the action under Super Rally rules to be classified ninth overall in their Ramlay Builders 433 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6. A fifty percent result from 18 starters an indication of just how hard everyone was trying, rather than an exceptionally high attrition rate.

Ebrahim Amlay (Grassy Park) and Ameen Snell actually failed to start when their Amlay Motorsport 420 CCMCC S4 Toyota Tazz ran into gearbox maladies shortly before the start. Ashley Haigh-Smith (Malmesbury) unfortunately had to withdraw his AHS Racing 13 CPMCC S5 Ford Fiesta R2 1600 with electrical problems prior to the start, but have indicated that he intends being present for the 12 May 2018 Ceres Toyota WBMK Rally. Julian Calvert (Goodwood) and Marius Rudolph (Bothasig) had to withdraw Lulu within sight of the SS3 flying finish when the Team 409 CCMCC / WBMK S3 VW Golf MkII 2.0 8v suddenly developed a gearbox filled with neutrals. Trevor Hodges (Ottery) and Ian Thebus (Edgemead) even less fortunate when they were forced to retire their 421 CCMCC S4 VW Golf MkIII 2.0 16v on the final stage with terminal engine problems.

Compliments to each and every member of the Radio and Timing Marshals, organizing committee and the unexpected, but most welcome, large number of spectators who braved the night supporting a class round of the 2018 Western Province Rally Championship. Familiar faces seen during the night included Brian Hoskins, Mike Nathan and Thorsten Pey and with the promise of two new Ford Escort entries beckoning for Ceres 12 May 2018 should see a record spectator attendance.

And thank you to event sponsors REACT, K&H Freight, TAC Steel, Hi Clean and G.C.F. Civils.

Do not miss the action!