Matzikama Mighty Mini

For the first time in eighteen years the opening round of the Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship took place in the Matzikama district and though the entry list may have looked slim the action on the Northern Municipal Airfield was exceptionally good.

This was Nelson, event number 111, in the popular gymkhan championship and it was the 11th Lions Vredendal Gymkhana in warm and windy conditions setting the scene for a challenging event. In principal the same route was presented with a few customary tweaks to the positions of the individual obstacles that had to be negotiated and though there were a few signs of shock initially everyone mastered the layout before the start of the first of four runs.

With the opening salvos fired no less than five teams found themselves on exactly the same second and the scene was set for an almighty push for overall honours. Rafique Firfirey had his eleven year old son, Hishaam, step into active competition as navigator in the well known silver AHI racing class G Mini Cooper S Turbo 1.6 and though everyone knew this car would be a serious threat they faltered on the first attempt by stopping sideways in front of the finishing line.

That was however their only sign of weakness as the silver Mini blitzed the remaining three runs to set the fastest time of the day, almost a full second faster than anyone. Giving it all they had Fanie and Zak du Toit (12 years old) working exceptionally hard to make it another father and son combination in second place on the podium with the 2015 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship winning FM Civils class A Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v.

To make it a truly historic podium it was Izak van Zyl Jnr and his father-in-law, Dewald van der Merwe, in third overall with the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi Turbo 2.0 16v. Fourth and fifth went to the Du Plessis brothers from Ceres. Pierre and Jacques du Plessis finishing in an impressive fourth overall in the 1800 16v class B Toyota Conquest, with the roles reversed in the cabin of the fifth placed 2000 20v Conquest.

Activities was not limited to gymkhana action alone as Vredendal VW had the latest and greatest present, including the awesome new VW Golf R. A lucky spectator won the lunch time raffle and not only received a neat Vredendal VW hamper, but even found himself in the suicide seat during an impressive demonstration run by Johan van der Merwe. Great to welcome Vredendal VW back into the gymkhana series as they were instrumental in bringing the sport to the Matzikama district.

An additional attraction was the arrival of the AMS Pilatus PC12 aircraft and everyone present has to be complimented on the manner in which they coöperated in clearing the runway to allow the safe arrival and departure of the aircraft.

Dewald van der Merwe and Izak van Zyl Jnr placed the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 16v sixth overall whilst Anton Smit and Tania Vermaak claimed seventh overall in the Trysome class F Datsun LDV 1.6. Sadly they had to be satisfied with only two runs completed as the oil pump failed shortly after starting the third run.

The ever consistent brother and sister combination of Morné Roux and Liezel Oosthuizen drove their class A Mazda 323 EGi 2.0 16v to a most impressive eighth overall with another brother and sister combination, Masood Dangor and Aatera Firfirey, ninth overall in their AHI Racing class C Mini Cooper.   

Johann Zulch and Cobus Viola placed the Ceres Toyota backed class E BMW 325iM tenth overall and the combination proved to be the Most Consistent team present on the day as only 0.05sec seperated their fastest two times.

Jan van der Vyver and new navigator, Carmen Nortjé, claimed eleventh overall in the always very entertaining Race-Tech class D VW Golf Chico MkI 1.4i. Carmen following in the footsteps of her cousin, Tania, as navigator whilst her parents, Dewald and Meghan, need no introduction as the Start and Finish Marshals at every WBMK Gymkhana.

Sharing the AHI class G Mini Cooper S Cabriolet it was something of a surprise to see Masood Dangor and Aatera Firfirey down in twelfth position with the more powerfull version of the Mini. Good friends, Marius Ellis and Francois Mostert, were once again involved in their own personal battle with each driving his own class A Opel to very good effect.

Marius Ellis and Francois Mostert finishing thirteenth overall in the aggressively driven class A Opel Kadett GSi CD. So intent was Marius on being the fastest Opel he only recorded two official times on the day. Francois Mostert and Marius Ellis was a little more subdued in the class A Opel Astra 200iSE and fourteenth overall was a fine result between two good friends.

Fifteenth overall and 1st in class I as an all ladies crew was particularly satisfying for Liezel Oosthuizen and Tania Vermaak in the Mazda 323 Egi 2.0 16v of Morné Roux. Though the ladies suffered without power steering the additional power of the Mazda proved to be the breakthrough they needed to record their first class win in the Matzikama.

Aatera Firfirey and her brother, Masood Dangor, then placed the AHI Racing class C Mini Cooper 1.6 and AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S Cabriolet sixteenth and seventeenth overall respectively with Liezel Oosthuizen and Aatera Firfirey eighteenth overall in the class A Mazda 323 EGi 2.0 16v.

Nineteenth overall going to Guiseppe Murray and Jan van der Vyver in the Race-Tech class D VW Golf Chico MkI 1.4i and just for good measure Guiseppe earned the Boo-Boo of the Day award by getting his elbows properly crossed up in entertaining fashion. The top twenty completed by the all ladies class I entry of Aatera Firfirey and Liezel Oosthuizen in the hard working AHI Racing Mini Cooper S Cabriolet.

Positions 21 and 22 belonged to yet another father and son combination. Tony and Bertie van Heerden sharing their monster twin turbo class G Lexus V8 powered Pipe-Car to very good effect. Times of no real value as this car rarely runs in a straight line and once they get the knots sorted in their elbows they certainly have the potential to challenge that V8 Corolla.

Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dewald van der Merwe might appear as the final finishers on the day but to the large crowd in attendance they were undoubtedly their favourite as the Dynotech class G Toyota Corolla V8 was steered by the rear wheels and right foot from start to finish on every run. It may sound bold but nobody can match this driver in the ability to post impressive times whilst negotiating the entire route without error, totally sideways and in total control. A master at work!

As single seater Dewald van der Merwe used the Dynotech VW Golf MkII GTi Turbo 2.0 16v to good effect whilst Jan van der Vyver had the Race-Tech VW Golf Chico MkI 1.4i challenging science enroute to second place. Third on paper but once again the crowd favourite was Izak van Zyl Jnr in the awesomely spectacular Dynotech Toyota Corolla V8. An absolute pleasure to watch. 

Special thanks to the Lions of Vredendal, Vredendal VW (Tinus Olivier and Johan van der Merwe), Radio Namakwaland 93.4Fm, Matzikama Municipality, Namaqua Cellars, Koelbly Coca-Cola, EDK Besigheidsmasjiene, West Coast Plant Hire, City Security, Fire-Tech, Supa Quick Vredendal, Vredendal Hotel, Tharakama Guest House, Kat-ma-Koep Guest House and Ons Kontrei for your interest in making this event a success.

Many hands are required to make any motorsport event succeed and we thank  Pierre van der Westhuizen as Clerk of the Course, Anette Vermaak as Event Scretary, André Mitchell as Chief Scorer, Neville Gleeson on the Jayen Timer, Dewald and Meghan Nortjé as Start and Finish Marshals, André Brinkman as Judge of Fact and Danie Burger as Videographer. Without these volunteers it simply would not be possible to host any club motorsport. 

A welcome new face at this event was Henlo du Toit and his Aerial Photography drone. Something we have never experienced at a gymkhana before.

To Nico van Zyl and the Lions of Vredendal, bravo on another great event!
The next round will be known as the Sandy Point St Helena Bay Gymkhana and is scheduled for Saturday 16 April 2016.