Making History @ 8th Weskus Mall Gymkhana

WBMK Gymkhana 94

The opening round of the 2014 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship, the 8th Weskus Mall Gymkhana Vredenburg, set the scene for what promises to be the best season in the fifteen year (1999 – 2014) history of the series.

Kobus Wilson Jnr and Jean-Pierre Robberts have always been considered one of the most talented combinations in the sport, but few thought is possible for them to truly shine being in command of the ex-Herman Mathee 1976 class F Datsun GX DeLuxe 1400 Sedan. This statement has no derogatory intent, simply relating to the fact that in 93 events there had never been a class F overall victor. (Class F - rear wheel driven vehicle 2000cc or smaller)

That is, until the 94th Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana on Saturday 22 March 2014 when the popular Boland (Worcester) based combination of Kobus Wilson Jnr and Jean-Pierre Robberts succeeded in beating two of the very best to the top step of the podium in that little blue car. This, as significant a victory as Jean-dré Pepper winning the very first Vredendal VW / Radio Namakwaland 93.4Fm Vredendal Gymkhana in his class D VW Golf MkI Citi 1.3 on 7 October 2006.

Four time (2009-10-11 and 13) WBMK Gymkhana Champion Driver, Izak van Zyl Jnr, and 2013 WBMK Navigators Champion, Dewald van der Merwe, set the goal in their always very impressive Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 Turbo and looked to be certain victors until the little Datsun managed to post the fastest time of the day on it’s fourth and final attempt with a clinically clean run. 
2012 WBMK Champion Driver, “Vinnige” Fanie du Toit, and Kobus Wilson Jnr celebrated their return after a season sabbatical in the FM Civils class A Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v with a fighting third overall. Fanie admitting that the year had certainly placed him on the back foot with respect to the standard of driving displayed by the opposition.

Former gymkhana ace and double SA Gp N2 Drivers Champion, Mike Nathan, looked nervous as a spectator! Also noted Divan de Goede and Henry Köhne amongst the spectators. Divan de Goede and Paul van Wyk discussing painful bodies after having tested their respective rubber ducks.

Brent Laurings and Duncan Andrews found the normally spectacular 1984 class A Opel Kadett GTE 2.0 8v a rear handful around the right hand hairpins on their opening two runs and were left rather desperate for two good times – which they managed under pressure to take fourth overall. Jean-Pierre Robberts and Kobus Wilson Jnr looked very racy in their Breedevallei Truck Centre class A 1992 Opel Kadett GSi 2.0, but had to concede fourth place to the yellow Opel. The GSi really looking great on it’s new set of rims and clearly benefitting from a few more tweaks.

Jacques du Plessis and Danye Louw teamed up in the very entertaining Du Plessis Auto class C Toyota Conquest RSi 1600 and though the combination is proven they too simply could not find their rhythm quickly enough to impact the podium positions. Having posted the fourth fastest time of the day they simply could not repeat the feat and had to settle for sixth overall.
With Gavin Parsons opting to not navigate in 2014 it was Anton and Adri Smit in control of the Van Rhynsdorp based Innovative Woodwork class F Datsun-Toyota LDV 1600. Sporting a refreshed engine and new rubber the little LDV was spectacular on the opening run but then suffered from minor issues, eventually limited to seventh overall.

Dewald van der Merwe and Izak van Zyl Snr eighth overall after a steady drive in the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 Turbo. Team GrandPa once again showing that they can compete with the youngsters on an equal footing. Ninth overall went to the first of three beautiful AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S entries.

The 2007 supercharged Mini Cooper S 1600 of Rafique and Aatera Firfirey showing good form on debut and the couple quickly settled into a rhythm for the day. Aatera almost speechless as first time navigator. Pierre du Plessis and Walter van Dyk tenth overall in the Du Plessis Auto class C Toyota Conquest RSi 1600. They too failing to post two quick times.

Just outside the top ten it was Nashrené Schloss 11th and 12th overall in her always immaculately prepared Toyota Corolla Twin Cam Sprinter 180i. Duncan Andrews taking them to 11th as a class B capacity entry and Tania Vermaak taking them to 12th overall in the all ladies category. Jan van der Vyver had Liezel Oosthuizen navigate the returning Race-Tech class D VW Golf Citi 1.4i to 13th overall. Unfortunately the car was withdrawn with mechanical issues.

The man with the orange hair, orange car and, on this occasion, even orange shoes, Leon Engelbrecht, lowered his standards and found himself behind the wheel of the AHI Racing class G turbocharged Mini Cooper S with Rafique Firfirey navigating and clearly enjoyed driving it to 14th overall on debut.  Closely shadowed by the Firfirey brothers, Natheer and Rafique, in the third AHI Racing class G supercharged Mini Cooper S 1600. This a really cool looking Rob Green modified version.

Swopping seats it was Rafique Firfirey and Leon Engelbrecht in 16th spot with the best sounding of the three AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S entries, the silver turbocharged version. Struggling to find his form with a new navigator in the orange Eikestad Plastic Repairs class A VW Golf MkI 2.0 Leon Engelbrecht and Pieter King had to accept 17th spot overall for the day.

Pieter King confirming that what you see as avid spectator next to the route in no way relates to what you experience inside the car. In fact, he immediately requested a number of single seater entries to change their classification in order for himself to gain much needed exposure and practice. It really is not as easy!

Driving a more docile AHI Racing class B VW Golf MkII GTi 1800 the Firfirey brothers, Rafique and Natheer, showed good consistency enroute to 18th overall with the ever consistent Johann Zulch and Tania Vermaak 19th overall in their Ceres Toyota backed class E BMW E30 325iM. Hot on their heels it was the other consistent brother and sister pairing of Morné Roux and Liezel Oosthuizen in their standard class C Mazda 323 160i.

Walter van Dyk and Pierre du Plessis found a novel way in which to attract spectator interest when a oil line popped on their class G VW Golf Citi 2.0 Turbo and they turned half the route into a skating rink. Taking matters in their stride the effective marshals soon had the mess cleaned and the event could continue. They recovered to finish 21st.

Former WP rallyist, Dickie Firfirey, had Rafique Firfirey navigating in (you guessed it) the AHI Racing class G supercharged Mini Cooper S 1600 and they brought the dark blue version home in 22nd spot. Danye Louw and Jacques du Plessis entered a standard class D Ford Ka 1.3 and the little car certainly impressed with superb handling.  Lack of power relegated them to a fighting 23rd overall. Respectively both are building new cars – Danye now in his seventh year and Jacques three years? . Maybe the lack of power will now motivate both to complete their projects.

Paul van Wyk and Quinton Swarts made their Gymkhana debut in the not-too-well-suited-to-gymkhana-format acciDent Guru class A (S4 in WP rallying) VW Golf Citi 2.0 8v rally car and with the power steering limited to whatever Paul had left in his arms they certainly kept the spectators entertained and the marshals nervous. They also managed to catch all the photographers asleep when they managed to do a Louis Gouws impersonation (driving the Golf on two wheels – unintentionally). Thankfully it landed right way up and the exhausted crew eventually finished 24th overall.

With round 1 of the 2014 WP Rally Championship scheduled as the CCMCC Klipdale Rally on Saturday 29 March 2014 they certainly raised interest in spectacular fashion. Driving a ferocious wolf in sheep’s clothing was 25th placed Izak van Zyl Snr and Dewald van der Merwe in the sweet and innocent sounding Lexus V8 powered Dynotech created class G Toyota Corolla. Team GrandPa idling through the course whilst getting accustomed to their monster.

Liezel Oosthuizen and Tania Vermaak enjoyed a consistent outing in their standard Mazda 323 160i with the biggest challenge the lack of power steering. Even a 323 Mazda is a BIG car for Liezel to drive. In stark contrast Paul van Wyk and Quinton Swarts had their work cut-out to keep the massive power produced by the diminutive acciDent Guru three cylinder class D Chevrolet Spark Lite 800cc in check enroute to 27th spot.

Making it look real easy Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dewald van der Merwe revelled in their Dynotech class G Lexus V8 powered 1983 Totota Corolla RWD and the corwd enjoyed every second. The only time it ever moved in a straight line was when it had to swop from left to right angles. An absolute pleasure to watch.

Quinton Swarts and Paul van Wyk went completely botanical in the acciDent Guru class D Chevrolet Spark Lite 800cc – but still proved that one can enjoy gymkhana events in any type of vehicle. Hermie de Kock and Louis Groenewald as always enjoying a personal tussle in the class F Ford Escort MkII 2.0. respectively they finished 30th and 31st Overall.

Even in single seater mode Kobus Wilson Jnr proved unstoppable and the 1976 Datsun GX DeLuxe 1400 blitzed the field with Fanie du Toit second in the FM Civils Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v and Brent Laurings third in his 1984 Opel Kadett GTE 2.0. Jan van der Vyver fourth in his Race-Tech VW Gold Citi 1.4i and Anton Smit retiring his Datsun-Toyota LDV 1600 after two runs.

Compared to the fastest time of 1min31.63, on exactly the same route, set by Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dewald van der Merwe during the 7th Weskus Mall Gymkhana Vredenburg on 17 August 2013 the mark set by Kobus Wilson Jnr and Jean-Pierre Robberts on 1min29.54 was indeed impressive.

Thank you to the Weskus Mall Vredenburg management, hosting the WBMK Championship for an eighth event. Quite fittingly this will be remembered as a historic result with a class F car taking overall victory for the very first time since 1999.   To Danie Burger, the man on the ground in Vredenburg, our sincere gratitude.

Pierre van der Westhuizen (Clerk of the Course) with Robert Marle (MSA Steward) and Anette Vermaak (Event Secretary) led the very capable team of officials consisting of André and Bertus Mitchell as scorers, Dewald and Meghan Nortjé as Start and Finish, Michael Ramshaw and Schalk van der Merwe as Scrutineers, André Brinkman as Pit Bull, Desmond Harding on route, Phillip Botes – Schalk van der Merwe – Michael Ramshaw – Altus Auret and Werner Fourie as Judges of Fact and Monique van der Merwe and Liz-Mari Vos assisting with documentation. And of course thanks to Leon Engelbrecht for a touching opening address.

AHI Construction, Midas Saldanha and Unicom Services – thank you for your assistance in making the 8th Weskus Mall Gymkhana Vredenburg a success.

We welcomed Schalk and Monique van der Merwe back, now as husband and wife, but sadly we missed the presence of Günther and Louise Appelgryn. That of course also meant that Oom Nico Appelgryn also had to miss this event! We trust that Louise will recover quickly and that the Spiderman class B VW Golf MkI 1800 will be back for round two.

2014 have been testing in many ways for many people and we share a thought for Leon and Monique Engelbrecht – Lianey present in good spirits was encouraging. We also wish Hannes Grobler the best of health.

Danie Burger (083 448 2652 for orders) and Jannie Slabbert will once again produce the regular DVD production whilst Pieter Heaney and Dieter Pey took care of matters photography. Though they are present at every event we are always relived when their services are not required – Ettiene le Roux and Leon Cornelissen of SA Paramedics certainly deserve a compliment for the manner in which they assisted a member of the general public during the afternoon.

Round two is currently reflected on the various calenders as being Saturday 19 April 2014. Being Easter weekend this date will be changing.

Expect an announcement shortly.