Mini domination in Overberg

The Bredasdorp Motor Club and Witzenberg Motorklub finally got around to staging a round of the popular Gymkhana Championship on the unique Overberg lime oval track on Saturday 2 December 2017. In fact, time allowed a second event on the same day and since everyone would already be present in the Overberg the very first double header dual route Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana had competitors worried about the four individual routes which would have to be mastered.

Overcast, dry, but windy conditions met those camping next to the oval track clubhouse but with a busy itinerary there was little time before the first two cars would face the Jayen Timer. Looking menacing in it’s new livery the L&M Automotive Performance class G Mini Cooper S 1.6 Turbo certainly looked ready and with some 220kW and 500Nm on tap this little monster was present to win it, second place simply not an option! Well, this rocket ship would be shared by two very capable drivers and unfortunately only one could win it!

Leon Engelbrecht started off in the Witzenberg Motorklub series with a class A VW Golf MkI 2.0 that made lots of power, but simply could not utilise what was available and when Rafique Firfirey opted for a Mini Cooper S the two partnered in developing the ultimate gymkhana car.

The fact that Leon Engelbrecht and Aatera Firfirey posted the outright fastest time enroute to first place overall and class a clear illustration of how well Leon understands his creation. Rafique Firfirey, the 2016 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Champion Driver, had Carel Bosch as navigator whilst Rafiques’s wife, Aatera Firfirey, navigated Leon to victory in his pride and joy. Leon defending his presence as having to drive it in competition to develop it whilst Rafique is continuously growing as driver and second place finishes will not become the norm.

Keeping it in the family it was Natheer Firfirey and Leon Engelbrecht third overall in the Rob Green Motorsport supercharged class G Mini Cooper S 1.6. Younger brother of Rafique, and not having contested any other events in 2017 made this an impressive finish for the light blue Mini. Pierre and Jacques du Plessis enjoyed the wide open spaces at the Bredasdorp Oval track but their Du Plessis Auto class B Toyota Conquest 1.8 16v developed an appetite for CV’s and fourth overall was somewhat frustrating for the Ceres brothers.

Morné and Liezel Roux have over the years shown that they can adapt to new routes very admirably and the popular brother and sister combination were on the pace from the opening run in their class A Mazda 323 EGi 2.0 16v to finish in a splendid fifth position overall.

Swopping seats and breaking another CV it was Jacques and Pierre du Plessis sixth overall in the rapid Du Plessis Auto class A Toyota Conquest 1.8 16v. Despite hearing something wrong in the Toyota 1.6 16v engine of the class F Nissan LDV it was Anton Smit and Tania Vermaak in seventh place. Francois Mostert and Marius Ellis another to enjoy the opportunity to stretch a leg on the oval with their class A Opel Astra 200 ISE 2.0 8v and eighth overall looked promising. The fact that the Opel was ahead of the green class D Volkswagen Golf MkI 1.4i of Marius Ellis and Francois Mostert serving as serious motivation for the second event.

Tenth overall was indeed impressive for Liezel Roux and Tania Vermaak in the bog standard class I Toyota Yaris 1.3. The all ladies duo really consistent and determined on each of their four runs. In fact a few male drivers admitted to their performance being awesome, but best they never said that as the ladies might just become even faster! Just to show their class the Yaris was also entered in the capacity class D and with Aatera Firfirey navigating the silver car also finished eleventh overall.

A personal tragedy befell Johann Zulch the day before the Bredasdorp event and it showed with a lacklustre 12th overall for Johann and Cobus Viola in their normally quite impressive class E BMW 325iM. Riaan Swart had Francois Mostert navigating in the Fire Busters class D Volkswagen Golf MkI 1.4i but the Golf was also not quite on song and struggled to finish 13th overall. André Smit and Natasha de Jager suffered a complete sense of humour failure on the opening run with their class C Volkswagen Golf MkI 1.6 but Twinsavers saved the day and they recovered to finish 14th overall.

Werner Venter and Chinelle Calitz also showed improvement in the tail happy class F Mazda Miata MX5 1.6 and their 15th spot really indicated a better understanding of what the sport requires from any combination. Ruan and Chris de Hart enjoyed their return and the son and father combination looked impressive in the class A Alfa Romeo 147i enroute to 16th spot.

Abdul Sayed had Leon Engelbrecht as navigator in his neat class D Toyota Tazz 1.3 but still considered the routes impossible to negotiate. The fact that they made it home in 17th spot a tribute to good communication in the car. Tania Vermaak and cousin, Monique Ramshaw, gave it their all in the standard Volkswagen Golf Citi Sport 1.4i and were rewarded with the Most Consistent Team award for the event. Really indicating that this little car was on the limit from the start and that 18th overall represented an excellent effort for a new combination.

Aatera Firfirey and Rafique Firfirey 19th in the neat class G Opel Corsa 1.4 Turbo with Carel Bosch and Leon Engelbrecht 20th in their class G Opel Corsa 1.6 Turbo.

Hennie Odendaal and Giovanni Agostinelli struggled with the initial navigation and 21st was not a true reflection of their potential in the Schenck Tech Diesel class C Volkswagen Golf MkI 1.6. Aatera Firfirey and Liezel Roux 22nd as all ladies duo in the Opel Corsa 1.4 Turbo with Gary Shaw and James Ballentyne quite satisfied with 23rd place in their class G Nissan NP200 TDCi 1.5 LDV. Making their debut in Ceres this combination considered the experience in the Boland as a reality check that made it clear that a fast car does not hold any significant benefit in this sport if you cannot function as a team. In short they realised that their car was faster than their ability and the NP200 proved on par with their capabilities in Bredasdorp. But, be warned, they are learning and they have a fast car waiting!

John Clift recently celebrated third overall as driver in the Western Province Rally Championship with his son, Derick Clift, as navigator in the ACW Engineering S4 Toyota Hilux 2.0 LDV. Living in nearby Struisbaai, John decided to chance a gymkhana with Tania Vermaak as navigator and the understeering Bakkie made life interesting for them enroute to 24th overall. Mumbling something about the gymkhana being harder work than a three day Tara Rally the 66 year old was still enjoying the new adventure!

Just to show that there is absolutely nothing wrong with his memory Ruan de Hart even drove the Alfa Romeo 147i as a single seater entry and did not wrongslot once! Many made multiple entries simply to have more opportunities to learn the complex routes but surprisingly there were fewer mistakes than anticipated.

The event did however take longer to complete and with time waiting for nobody the decision was taken to host the second event on exactly the same route – to the visible relief of most competitors present! The Jayen Timer proved faultless in the new environment with a strong wind the only irritation on the day. André and Nelmarie Mitchell reporting no glitches between timer and computer. Dewald and Meghan Nortjé in charge of the respective A and B route Start and Finish controls whilst André Brinkman and Carmen Nortjé did a sterling job as Judges of Fact.

Anette “Mama Bear” Vermaak in charge of Documentation and Race HQ in the Commentary Tower was proving extremely popular with the officials. Pierre van der Westhuizen (Clerk of the Course), Robert Marle (MSA Steward and Environmental Officer).

Thank you to the Bredasdorp Motorklub (Sakkie Joubert), Fire Busters / A1 Gutters (Riaan and Jackie Swart) and Access Auto (Steve Bekker) for their support.