Rafique and Fanie - Tied at 6

Arriving in the beautiful shadow (Belle Ombre) of the Poison Mountain (Gifberg) at the break of dawn on Saturday 10 September 2016 set the scene for an exciting Matzikama challenge with thirty teams present to contest the 12th Lions Gymkhana Vredendal, round six of the 2016 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship and the 117th event in the series. As have become custom Nico van Zyl and his team had prepared the Northern Municipal Runway to perfection.

A single point separated Fanie du Toit and Rafique Firfirey and thanks to a few subtle tweaks the same route was no longer the same route, leaving a number of puzzled faces during the morning track inspection. One could sense the anticipation as Rafique and Hishaam Firfirey brought the AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S 1.6 Turbo under starters orders for the first of four runs and try as they might this would prove to be the quickest time of the day.

With Izak van Zyl Jnr contesting the Regional Drifting Championship at Killarney and father-in-law Dewald van der Merwe tied up with work it was something of a shock to realise that for the first time in many a year there were no representation from the Dynotech clan. No Turbo Golf and no V8 Corolla.

Fortunately the opposition saw this as an opportunity to step up their own game and it was the Du Plessis brothers, from Ceres, who had the Du Plessis Auto class B Toyota Conquest 1.8 16v living on the edge as they attempted to keep each other off the podium. Fanie du Toit and Liezel Oosthuizen have on more than one occasion proven decisive on their final run of the day but the FM Civils class A Mazda Rustler LDV 2.0 16v simply had nothing in reserve and though they came close, they remained 0.18 sec short of overall victory. Once again leaving Rafique and Fanie tied on points with two events remaining.

Jacques had Pierre du Plessis navigating in his own car and then added insult to injury by beating his brother to third overall by a scant 0.02sec on combined times. Pierre and Wynand (son of Pierre) du Plessis thought they had done enough to secure the position and were not amused at losing out by such a small margin. Beaten by his own brother, in his own car and he actually navigated too!

Walter “waar is jy” van Dyk and Pierre du Plessis fifth overall in the sneezing Televideo class G VW Golf Chico 2.0 16v Turbo. Not being able to trump the determined Du Plessis brothers for Storeman honours Walter at least provided spectators with an entertaining spin. Well known Radio Namakwaland 93.4Fm presenter, Wynand Kotzé, found himself alongside Rapid Rafique in the Turbo Mini for an introductory gymkhana run and the Mini managed to push over one of the many hurdles enroute to a very competitive time. Unfortunately Wynand was not in any condition to appreciate the time, but did manage to acknowledge his chauffeur as an exceptional driver once he had regained his breath. Probably not related but Egbert stood in for Wynand on the Monday edition of Barshou?

Marius Ellis and Francois Mostert impressed with sixth overall in the neat class A Opel Kadett GSi 2.0 16v and with anumber of tweaks on the horizon this Opel could well still become a serious threat to the current leaders. Morné Roux and Liezel Oosthuizen found themselves in a very awkward position as they enjoy giving the class A Mazda 323 EGi 2.0 16v free reign but with only a 16 point lead in the navigators championship they also had to be cautious. Seventh overall saw Liezel only lose six points to Hishaam Firfirey and with two events remaining this challenge will almost certainly only be resolved during the final event of the season, the 26 November 2016 2nd Boland Trade Centre Gymkhana Moorreesburg.

Masood Dangor and sister, Aatera Firfirey, showed a fair turn of ace in the cabriolet AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S 1.6. Masood clearly starting to benefit from the recent Leon Engelbrecht upgrades which included a limited slip differential and improved set-up. The dark blue Mini splitting the Opel duo in eights overall. Francois Mostert and Marius Ellis ninth in the class A Opel Astra 2.0 16v. The Opel unfortunately still suffering set-up problems after having clobbered a pavement during the recent 8th Du Plessis Auto Gymkhana in Ceres.

Johann Zulch donned his customary go faster shoes for the day and with Cobus Viola navigating the Ceres Toyota supported class E BMW E30 325iM enjoyed a super consistent day by finishing every run on the same second to claim the Most Consistent Driver of the Day award and tenth overall.

After a brief sabbatical it was good to see Jan van der Vyver back in the hopping Race-Tech class D VW Golf Chico 1.4i and Carmen Nortjé navigated the pocket rocket to eleventh overall and first in class with the improving AHI Racing class C winning Mini Cooper 1.6 of Masood Dangor and Aatera Firfirey twelfth overall. NO 13 is owned by the Beemer but Johann Zulch and Cobus Viola were well pleased with 13th overall in the recently completed class F Ford Escort 1600 Sport classic rally car. Entered in the gymkhana events as a shakedown before eventually returning to it’s rally roots the Escort certainly looked the part.

Utilising the same AHI Racing class G cabriolet Mini Cooper S 1.6 Aatera Firfirey added 15th overall with Carel Bosch navigating and 16th overall with Liezel Oosthuizen navigating as class I entry. The Liezel Oosthuizen did likewise in her standard Toyota Yaris 1.3 by finishing 17th overall with Aatera Firfirey navigating in class D and 18th overall with Tania Vermaak navigating as class I entry.
Vredendal Toyota was represented by Johann Compion and Gerrit van der Merwe in a class C Toyota Etios Cross 1.5i and they were the final classified finishers in 19th position overall. Jacques Jansen van Vuuren however made it clear that Vredendal Toyota will be returning in full force come 2017. Hopefully we will also see him return to WP rallying.

Mario Arp also made a welcome return to the event in his Nissan SX200 Turbo with William Knowles navigating, but the powerful drifter simply destroyed it’s tyres and was eventually withdrawn. AHI Racing also forced to withdraw three of their entries due to excessive tyre wear. A number of potentially new navigators were entered in non scoring runs and clearly Colbrin Sieberhagen and Mickey Ellis enjoyed their first taste of the respective suicide seats.

As always no event can survive without the dedicated and valued support of many behind the scenes and on this occasion Lions Vredendal led the way with Vredendal Toyota in hot pursuit. Regular names included the Matzikama Municipality, EDK Besigheidsmasjiene, Koelbly Coca-Cola, Namaqua Wines, Supa Quick Vredendal, Maskam Hotel, Vredendal Hotel, Belle Ombre Guest House, Katmakoep Guest House, West Coast Plant Hire, Check-In Vleismark, Deon Smit (Lions), Nicor (Nico van Zyl), Ons Kontrei and Radio Namakwaland 93.4Fm.

The magnificent Coca Cola sound truck sported a 6000 Watt capacity with Kobus doing a brilliant job in making sure the event was heard in Van Rhynsdorp and the plato of the Poison Mountain. Clerk of the Course, Pierre van der Westhuizen, doubled as commentator whilst MSA Steward, Robert Marle, really enjoyed the Matzikama hospitality. André Mitchell almost had nothing to do as his daughter Nelmarie managed the Jayen Timer extremely efficiently with Melissa Mitchell supporting. Anette Vermaak and Meghan Nortjé taking care of Documentation with André Brinkman the ever efficient Judge of Fact.

Dewald and Meghan Nortjé reported few errors as Start and Finish Marshals and though he tried hard on every run Jan van der Vyver cleared the finish robot by a few thou every time. It may be the most distant event on the annual Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana calender but it is also a fact that the event rates as one of the most popular. A large and very vocal crowd keeps competitors motivated and the friendly reception and pleasurable prizegiving remains a highlight.

Now it is time for the UNIREF 28th Club Mykonos Gymkhana Langebaan on Saturday 15 October 2016 and though the event may only feature a single lane layout the action on track will be brilliant. Still the competitors favourite despite the fact that those pavements remain extremely intimidating.