Rafique fights back!

Roughly 170km North-East of Cape Town one will find the town of Ceres nestled in at the bottom of Michell’s Pass in the Warmbokkeveld and Saturday 21 October 2017 dawned in perfect weather conditions. An early morning drive via Slanghoek just the right medicine to start the day in the right mood and just one look at the beauty of the Hexriver Mountains in the early morning sun served as adequate proof why this town was named after the Roman goddess of agriculture. Simply magnificent.

A little north and Prince Alfred Hamlet was having their agricultural festival in the Kouebokkeveld complete with a four ship airshow by the cockpit ambassadors of the South African Air Force , the crack Silver Falcons aerobatic team currently being led by Major Mark Gentles. Heading for home the team kindly circled Ceres in tight formation to add a touch of glamour to round four of the Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship.

Pierre and Jacques du Plessis hosting the 9th Du Plessis Auto Gymkhana Ceres and a strong entry of 23 teams congregated to meet the challenge set by themselves, the route and the stopwatch. As expected it was Leon Engelbrecht and Rafique Firfirey who set the early pace in their L&M Racing class G Mini Cooper S Turbo 1.6, this time navigated by a rather nervous looking Abdul Sayed. Pierre and Jacques du Plessis as always the local favourites in their class B Toyota Tazz 1.8 16v and once Dewald Nortjé released car number one onto the route it was game on as everyone enjoyed the technical, yet deceptively flowing nature of the 126th Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana.

Early drama saw the L&M Racing Mini Cooper on jacks with every available hand assisting Leon Engelbrecht in repairing the damaged front suspension after Rafique Firfirey and Liezel Oosthuizen lost an encounter with the rather solid municipal pavement during a non scoring run. With some doubt as to whether the silver car would be able to return to the fray it was the Toyota brothers fighting for overall honours.

Pierre and Wynand du Plessis taking the initiative and truly wringing everything they could out of the willing class B Du Plessis Auto Toyota Tazz 1.8 18v the father and son combination remained quicker than Jacques and Pierre du Plessis. Amazingly the efforts of Leon Engelbrecht saw the L&M Racing class G Mini Cooper S 1.6 Turbo return to the event and sportingly the competition agreed that the lost rounds could be completed.

Leon Engelbrecht and Abdul Sayed immediately back on event winning pace, but it was Rafique Firfirey and Abdul Sayed that surprised with two almost faultless runs to claim victory. Clearly feeling somewhat shaken by his earlier mishap Rafique showed great character by remaining focused on taking victory. Four events, four wins for the unstoppable L&M Racing Mini Cooper S 1.6 Turbo, but this was the first success for the 2016 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Drivers Champion.

Another brilliant effort was the fifth place overall achieved by the 1600 Toyota powered class F Datsun LDV of Anton Smit and Tania Vermaak. Really looking quite feisty on route the little LDV topped the rear wheel drive challenge. Morné Roux and Liezel Oosthuizen as always in the thick of the battle and sixth overall certainly did not come without another sterling effort in their class A Mazda 323 EGi 2.0 16v.

The brother an sister combination had to concede the Most Consistent award to Johann Zulch and Cobus Viola in the Ceres Toyota backed class E BMW E30 325iM. Oupa really was in a serious mood and the heavier Beemer was three wheeling nicely enroute to an impressive seventh spot overall. Marius Ellis and Francois Mostert sported lowered suspension on their class D VW Golf MkI 1.4i and though it proved very effective in handling it certainly spoiled the spectator value of the car as it now seemed firmly planted enroute to eighth overall.

Hennie Odendaal and Giovanni Agostinelli did not disappoint as they managed to bounce the class C VW Golf MkI 1.6 off at least one kerb enroute to ninth place and they were followed home by a determined Riaan and Jackie Swart in their Fire Busters class D VW Golf MkI 1.4i. Without a doubt the Most Spectacular car to watch as it defeated the laws of gravity enroute to tenth overall.

Francois Mostert and Marius Ellis simply could not utilise the additional power of their class A Opel Astra 2.0 as traction simply could not be found when required and the result was very entertaining runs and 11th spot overall. Marius obviously rubbing it in that his 1.4i Golf beat the 2.0 Astra, but the friendship survives for now! Abdul Sayed had Leon Engelbrecht along as navigator and coach in the class D Toyota Tazz 1.3 but having navigated in the L&M Racing Mini the pace of the little 1300 proved intimidating and they settled for 12th overall on this occasion.

Liezel Oosthuizen and Tania Vermaak the only all ladies combination present in Ceres but their 13th spot overall was well deserved in the standard class I Toyota Yaris 1.3. André Smit and Natasha de Jager are coming to terms with their class C VW Golf MkI 1.6 and should be making good progress on the coming events. Their 14th place keeping them just ahead of newcomers, Gary Shaw and James Ballantyne, in their mighty VW Golf 2.0 Turbo.  

Gary and James taking the advice of the experienced competitors in using their first run to learn the route, and the second, slightly faster on the third and much better on their fourth run. Sportingly admitting that the slow impression created when watching others compete is not what they experienced on route they wer shocked to realise the difference in pace between the fastest and slowest as they genuinely considered their effort to have been fairly good!

Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana events are for fast teams, not the fastest cars, and to reach a truly competitive level requires all facets to function in perfect harmony. They will be back and they have a good foundation on which to build!

A big hooray too for Jackie Swart who successfully completed her second gymkhana as driver in the Fire Busters class D VW Golf MkI 1.4i. Riaan actually brave enough to guide his wife to sixteenth spot on the day.

The customary prizegiving saw competitors, officials and spectators mingle in a great atmosphere and Be-adre du Plessis and her team must be complimented on the amazing array of awards sourced from valuable sponsors Japie Alberts Bouer, Parts Incorporated – Midas Group, MB Aircon, CVC Ceres, Ceres Landbou Midas, Ceres Mica, Auto Magneto, First National Battery, Tyre Choice, Nortmec, HJ Nichols, Pioneer Foods, Diesel Electric, NJ Geldenhuys Vervoer, Du Toit Hout, Ceres Toyota, DCB Midas, Oom Piet and Tannie Patrys Dunn, Bokveld Motors, Hamlet Hardeware, Du Plessis Auto and the Witzenberg Municipality.

The SAAF Silver Falcons flypast and presence of the SAP Wolseley Hits Marimba Band adding unexpected value to the day and those legendary spare ribs a fitting conclusion to another brilliant Du Plessis Auto Gymkhana Ceres.

The final round scheduled for 2 December 2017 at the Bredasdorp Oval track. A Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana on a lime surface will certainly be a new adventure for all.