Overberg Grand Prix beckons!

Fresh from winning the opening round of the Northern Regions Rally Championship, the Hallspeed Bronkhorstspruit Rally,  on Saturday 18 February 2017 must make Jacques and Leon Botha favourites for outright victory on the opening round of the Western Province Rally Championship, the iKapa Reticulation & Flow CCMCC Klipdale Rally, Saturday 25 February 2017.

Leon Botha has fond memories of the Overberg as he almost certainly sealed his South African Gp N4 Production Car Championship by beating the very car in which he now navigates for his son, Jacques. Driving an almost standard Subaru Impreza 4x4 Turbo STi the standard gearing allowed for a much higher maximum speed than close ratio gearbox fitted to the Schalk Burger Snr Subaru Impreza WRX STi Turbo 4x4.

Jacques Botha acquired the ex-Burger Snr Subaru from Dick Cornelissen and had father, Leon, strapped into the suicide seat for the 2016 Tara Rally in Namibia. Teething problems saw them retire on this occasion but not before Leon had forgotten that he ever stated he would never ever navigate for Jacques again and the grin on his face proved that this car now had more than enough top end to match the abundance of power.

The Hallspeed Rally boasted a small entry of 14 cars and unfortunately Theuns Joubert (S2000 Toyota) failed to make the start, but not even losing two minutes with a broken sideshaft could prevent them from winning overall. Great news for the Western Province is the fact that the event had attracted a 23 car entry including four visiting crews from Namibia. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s it was almost considered normal to see the Namibians cross the border to the Western Cape and it is most encouraging to see them back in numbers!

Formerly part of the Western Cape Championship Stefanie Hugo  became Mrs Jacques Botha and with her father Willem Hugo (61 years old) something of an institution in Namibian motorsport the family involvement was inevitable as youngest sister, Mandi (16 years old), now navigates for Willem in the bright green Griffin Transport S5 WMC Subaru Impreza WRX STi Turbo 2.0. Give the current drought in the Western Cape it may be advisable to keep this vehicle moving throughout the weekend as the wild animals might want to take a nibble.

And of course the family ties extent to Jacques Botha (43 years old) being the son of Rallystar and Pace Notes guru, Leon Botha (67 years old). A volatile combination would possibly be the most complimentary summary, but when they actually agree with each other they do have the ability to make a rally car move quickly. And their Afrideca Plant Hire S5 WMC Subaru Impreza WRX STi 4x4 Turbo even sounds fast.

Richard Slamet trades regular navigator, Wiets Coetzee, for the Silver Fox alias Derek Jacobs and the I&S Freight Services S5 (S2000) WMC Toyota Run X 4x4 could well prove to be the surprise package of the event. Despite being a relative newcomer to rallying Richard won the 2015 Tara Rally (though this event was eventually scrapped). Running in the colours of the Slamet family concern he has additional motivation with the support of his brother Ronald who just happens to be a three time WP Superbike champion.
Announcing his intention to retire from active motorsport at the end of 2017 Ronald was also proud to announce his engagement to Lauren Barnard shortly before joining Neels Rabe in the Motorsport Fokus 104Fm Tygerberg studio on Thursday evening. Both Slamet brothers however intend making their presence felt in their respective motorsport disciplines and the obvious mutual respect between them is truly admirable.

Representing the Namibian coast Oswaldo Mendes and Tinus Malan could also prove extremely competitive in their Sky-Way S5 WBMK Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 4x4. Better known for his exploits behind the wheel of a variety of Volkswagen products the most “distant” member of the Witzenberg Motorklub intends competing in a number of Western Province Rallies. Some rivalry might surface between Tinus Malan and Cecil Koorts with regards navigation duties but expect this Swakopmund driver to give his best.
Current Western province Rally Champions, Shaun Jones and Craig Gray, have swapped their championship winning S5 CPMCC Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 4x4 for the low flying S5 CPMCC BMW 328i as they feel that the Beemer has substantially longer legs for the traditionally extremely fast roads of the Overberg Grand Prix. Multiple champions, John (50 years old) and Winston (22 years old) Peiser, are sticking to their regular Speed Pro Cycling Equipment S5 WPMC Subaru Impreza GT 2.0 Turbo and the proven package will be ready to pounce on any opportunity.

Having almost become locals on the Namibian Tara the Clift Hilux officially enters regional rallying this weekend with the S4 WBMK Toyota Hilux having been rebuilt to the required regulations and the father and son combination of John (66 years old) and Derick (38 years old) Clift brings back memories of Louis Cloete and Serge Damseaux behind the wheel of SA’s favourite “Bakkie”. Winston Neethling and Lyle Marais brings more nostalgia with the ex-Hannes Grobler S5 CCMCC Nissan Sentra 4x4 back in action.
Important notice: No, Herman Mathee is not ill, there is simply a whole lot less of him around since he had taken up serious mountain biking. In fact, his efforts to trim the Madev S4 WBMK Datsun GX Coupé down in size with neat new flares have simply allowed Ruan Reynders the freedom to not face the normal threat to navigators with respect to weight limitations. The neat 423 Datsun does however still benefit from on going development and with the crew and car certainly growing closer with each outing it is fast becoming a crowd favourite.

André Cleenwerck and Carl Peskin will have the beautifully rebuilt S3 CPMCC VW Polo 1.6 ready for action and though this little pocket rocket may lack the numbers in capacity it should never be ignored once the lights go out. Both are experienced national championship competitors and simply finishing on the podium have little appeal. Llewellyn Jones and Michelle Taylor will debut as combination in their neat S3 CPMCC VW Polo 1.6 and if their reliability issues are resolved this combination will undoubtedly prove to be a threat. Charl Strydom and Sakkie Bosman another team with huge potential as the Sabre Paints S4 CPMCC VW Polo 2.0 20v is a factory built machine sporting all the right ingredients to make a nuisance of itself at the front of the field and the fact that Charl celebrated his 60th birthday on 14 February 2017 simply got their enthusiasm going again.

Brothers Ismaeel (28 years old) and Faizal (30 years old) Davids will be armed with two very quick S3 CCMCC Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 cars and Quinton Swarts appears as navigator for Ismaeel in the ex-Namibian Xtreme Contractors version whilst Matthew Köhler joins Faizal in the Xtreme Contractors, ACP, Amlays Bodyworks, Brandloom Designs, Mias Auto and Rwaan Media version. The Davids brothers relatively new to the sport of rallying but they are getting quicker with each outing which will undoubtedly see Keenan Sassman and Llewellyn van Greunen grow bigger horns in their  S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1600.

Amlay Motorsport will enjoy a rather busy day as Abduraghman Amlay (53 years old) and Yusuf Ganief (49 years old) find themselves strapped into the neat S3 CCMCC Toyota Avante whilst Riyaan Amlay (36 years old) and Rafick Mia (37 years old) will be in command of the S3 CCMCC Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 and Ebrahim Mia (30 years old) and Ameen Snell take control of the S3 CCMCC VW Golf 3.  Riyaan is the son of the cousin of Abduraghman and Rafick is the son of the sister of Abduraghman. Now I am confused too).Julian Calvert and Terry Croy another combination armed with a S3 CCMCC VW Golf 2.0 and if consistency is key to results they will feature strongly. Paul Emmauel and Robin Benjamin return in their S4 CCMCC VW Polo 2.0 whilst Trevor Hodges and Ian Thebus have the S4 CCMCC VW Golf GTi 2.0 well sorted.

Andy Haigh-Smith (69 years young) and Tania Vermaak (21 years old) make their debut as combination in the never say never “Yellow Submarine” AHS Racing S3 CPMCC Mitsubishi Lancer GT1600. Though Andy may claim to be the senior citizen in local rallying he certainly remains very capable behind the wheel and his young protegé will certainly benefit from his experience. With Ashley Haigh-Smith shifting his focus in 2017 the young Red Bull athlete will be in charge of the AHS Racing service team instead of his Ford Fiesta R2 1600 this weekend.

Having taken a sabbatical for a number of years Ettiene du Toit (34 years old) and Patrick Vermaak (55 years old)  find themselves back in their trusty S3 WBMK Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 with valued support from Supa Mac (Frederik and Tanya Heroldt), Imperial Toyota (Charl Odendaal), Magnetec Radiators, Stunt Network and Kontra Signs. Completely rebuilt the crew have had no time to test and may require an event or two to find their rhythm again.

The seven special stage event will see competitors cover 91.38km in competitive mode whilst 251.96km covers the entire event. SS1 is known as Geskenk and the 15.50km special is repeated as SS2 before the 14.20km of Antoinette is repeated twice. Special stage 3 is known as America and covers 10.55km, also to be repeated before the final Hermanusheuwel SS7 concludes the event at 10.88km. Hermanusheuwel being the Antoinette special run in the opposite direction.

Four spectator points will allow great viewing of the competing crews within close proximity to the central service park. Please note that the Western Cape is extremely dry and water levels are critically low. Please refrain from using open fires, do not litter and minimise the use of water.

An encouraging entry for the opening round of 2017 but disappointingly none of the acciDent Guru VW Golf entries make an appearance in the Overberg. Paul van Wyk, Piet Bakkes, Tiaan Rabe and Ian Long sure to return though and hopefully the two R2 Fiesta entries of Ashley Haigh-Smith and Lourens Van Rensburg will also make an occasional appearance whilst a number of other interesting rumours persist. Tariq Khatib also in process of rebuilding his Golf. A thirty car entry starting to sound realistic again?

Join us for what promises to be a great event in the Overberg!