Regional Entries ready for Overberg Grand Prix

Two hundred and twenty years ago (1797) travelling 100km East from Cape Town would have seen you arrive at the Bad agter de Berg in a village known as Swartberg. Now named after the first British governor of the Cape (the 2nd Earl of Caledon, Du Pre Alexander) the capitol of the Overberg remains well known for it’s Mediterranean climate and mineral-rich hot springs.

Warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters regulated by the fact that it is close to the South Atlantic Ocean. Much have changed (thankfully) as you will be travelling on the N2 from Cape Town in vehicles much more luxurious than ox wagons and though the Spring will still see the rolling hills covered in bright yellow canola the serious lack of water in the Theewaterskloof Dam remain have still resulted in strict level 5 water restrictions as the 500km square, 480 406 000 cubic meter dam in the Sonderend River is only expected to recover to acceptable levels by the year 2020.

The 2017 Caledon National Rally aka Overberg Grand Prix enjoys the support of QuickShade, Tyre Zone, Kontra Signs, C Track, Electrothread, Manitou Group,  Shield, Theewaterskloof Municipality and Rola Caledon. The Start and Finish will be at Rola Motors Caledon and the first car set to start at 14h45 on Friday 22 September 2017, 07h45 on Saturday 23 September 2017. Friday will see crews tackle four stages, two of which will be at the Industrial area and Sport Grounds (at night). Saturday consists of eight stages, four that are to be repeated with ten excellent spectator vantage points allowing viewing of the entire field of 35 plus cars. On Friday the Service Park will be based at the Botanical Garden and on Saturday it will move to the Bo Vrede Farm about 30km past Caledon, both next to the N2. An advance thank you to Rola Caledon, the Theewaterskloof Municipality and local Traffic authorities for their valued support. Live commentary at  the spectator points will once again be provided by Halfway Toyota Ottery and 104Fm Motorsport Fokus program anchor, Neels Rabe.

Round 6 of the South African Rally Championship will also include the sixth and final round of the 2017 Western Province Regional Rally Championship and the bonus for spectators is that the regional teams will be contesting the entire event with a number of visiting teams from Namibia to further enhance what promises to be the best event on the 2017 national / regional calender.

Richard Slamet made history in the Western Cape by not only becoming the first Namibian driver to ever win a round of the regional championship, he did so twice when the I&S Freight Services 98 WMK S5 Toyota Run X 2.0 4x4 claimed overall victory in the Overberg and Swartland Derek Jacobs reading the notes.

Though the Namibian competitors accepted the invitation to compete locally without being able to score towards the individual driver and navigator championship Derek Jacobs benefitted as locally domiciled navigator.

Unfortunately the Run X retired from the Ceres Toyota Rally and did not enter the Riebeek Kasteel event. Though he competes as bonafide Witzenberg Motorklub member and with an MSA competition licence Swakopmund businessman, Oswaldo Mendes, denied the opportunity to score points as driver. Taking a popular victory in the Sky-Way 129 S5 WBMK Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2.0 Turbo 4x4 on Riebeek Kasteel delivered more points to Derek Jacobs.

Ettiene du Toit and Patrick Vermaak returned to the regional championship in the same Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 with which they had won the SA Gp N2 class title in 2007 and was somewhat surprised to find themselves the first WP team home in the Overberg before dialling a wrong number on the Malmesbury round. The Corolla requiring an extensive rebuild after making contact with a telephone pole. Winning overall on their home event a really welcome bonus and then they followed Oswaldo home in Riebeek Kasteel.

Round five, the love it or hate it, CCMCC All Tar Rally at the WPMC Killarney International Raceway sealed the WP Drivers title for Ettiene du Toit when the Team 467 S3 WBMK Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6 added another overall victory. Though Derek Jacobs failed to score as navigator on this event a seventeen point lead was not enough for Patrick Vermaak to follow suit as navigator and this will only be resolved once the 22-23 September 2017 Caledon Rally had been completed. It was never the less satisfying to have navigated Ettiene to the overall WP Drivers title and S3 class championship with an event in reserve.

Witzenberg Motorklub Chairman, Pierre van der Westhuizen, enjoying the most successful rally season in the 34 year history of the Ceres based club with members of the club winning three of the five rounds to date and technically four was won by WBMK drivers. Ettiene du Toit taking Overberg, Ceres and All Tar whilst Oswaldo Mendes claimed Riebeek Kasteel. A one-two result for WBMK on Riebeek Kasteel.

Charl Strydom and Sakkie Bosman did likewise on their home event in Malmesbury in the Sabre Paints 406 CPMCC VW Polo 2.0 20v but sadly a right knee replacement have scuppered the season for this team whilst Herman Mathee and Ruan Reynders also had their season shortened after a most encouraging start with the unique 423 S4 WBMK Madev Datsun GX Coupé 2.0.

The Overberg national was scheduled for 16/17 September 2017 initially and Herman and his wife to be, Salina Botes, scheduled their wedding for Saturday 22 September 2017.

Another suffering from the change of date being Ian Long and Brian Hoskins in the 436 WPMC S1 VW Golf MkI 1.6 who will have to give this event a miss due to prior commitments.

Father and son, John and Weston Peiser, will be back in the Speed Pro Cycling Equipment 425 WPMC S5 Subaru Impreza GT 2.0 Turbo 4x4. Weston having recovered from his knee surgery and the Scoobie fitted with a brand new set of tyres in anticipation of the visiting Namibians. Hard as it might be to believe this was the very first Subaru ever to be rallied in SA and it is still going strong!

Ettiene du Toit and Patrick Vermaak intend driving for another competitive finish without taking any risks in the Team 467 S3 WBMK Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6. John and Derick Clift another team that  would be hunting a good finish in their ACW Engineering 418 S4 WBMK Toyota Hilux bakkie as they too have enjoyed a brilliant season.

Tiaan Rabe and Jean-Pierre Jacobs have been another surprise package in 2017 and the really attractive Golf liveried 404 S2 WBMK VW Golf MkI 1.6 have shown exceptional pace which will serve it well in the Overberg. Darren van Greunen and Randall Marais still finding their feet in the 415 S3 WBMK Toyota Run X 1.6 but the car has proven reliable and the pace will increase with each outing.

Llewellyn Jones and Christoph Pichon certainly does not lack any pace in their CEJ 414 S3 CPMCC VW Polo and they will undoubtedly be giving it their all on the final round of the season. Keenan Sassman and Llewellyn van Greunen have been burning midnight oil in preparing their Howard Centre Motors 413 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6 and they would love to finish their frustrating season on a high. Team acciDent Guru tragically lost a key member of their support team and some doubt exists as to whether their cars will be ready, but both Paul van Wyk (419 S3 WBMK VW Golf MkI 2.0 8v) and Piet Bakkes (469 S3 CPMCC VW Golf MkI 2.0 8v) are more than capable of running with the best. Navigator for Piet Bakkes will be visiting Terry Illman and Erwee Badenhorst will be alongside Paul van Wyk.

Shaheen Amlay and Matthew Köhler will be returning in the rapid Amlay Motorsport 402 CCMCC S4 Toyota Run X RSi 1.8 whilst Julian Calvert will have Marius Rudolph in the suicide seat of the 409 CCMCC S3 VW Golf MkIII. Tariq Khatib and Faiz Idas return in their constantly improving 421 CCMCC S2 VW Citi Golf MkI 1.6. Faizal Davids and Terry Croy has their 422 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla Rxi 1.6 ready and Ismaeel Davids and Yusuf Ganief are also in determined frame of mind in their Xtreme 431 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6.

Andy Haigh-Smith and Tania Vermaak will also be back in action with the AHS Racing 432 CPMCC S3 Mitsubishi Lancer GT1600 and their goal would simply be to achieve another solid finish. Ashley Haigh-Smith, recently confirmed as an entry in the Supercar category of the Gumtree World Rally X round at the Killarney International Raceway on 11-12 November 2017 a very high profile leader of their service crew on this occasion.

Riyaan Amlay and Rafick Mia will want to return to consistent results in their 433 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6 and Paul Emmanuel will have Michelle Taylor navigating in the 450 CCMCC S4 VW Polo on this occasion. Mustapha Mia and Ameen Snell another combination showing good potential in their 456 CCMCC Toyota Tazz 1.6.

Clint and Lloyd Lingeveldt set to finally debut their ex-Serge Damseaux / Innes Murudker 435 CCMCC S4 Toyota Tazz 1.7. Winston Neethling and Lyle Marais return in the ex-Hannes Grobler 428 CCMCC Nissan Sentra 4x4 and it is also welcome back to Team George, André George and George du Toit, in a 401 CCMCC VW S4 Golf MkII.

Just seven South African Rally Championship R2 teams head up the entry list of 38 for the Caledon Rally with essentially just the Gazoo Toyota Etios of Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle facing off against the Ford Fiesta of Richard Leeke III and Henry Köhne.

Eight cars in the Classic category will see the 56 Porsche 911 of Johnny Gemmel and Carl Peskin face the sweet sounding Cosworth powered 51 Ford Escort of Lee Rose and Elvené Coetzee. Etienne Malherbe and Robbie Coetzee always popular in the 54 Datsun 160U SSS whilst Ashleigh and Les Mckenzie will undoubtedly also prove popular in their 64 Ford Escort. Roelof Coertse and Barry White another strong combination in their 63 Ford Escort whilst local combination, Warren Köhler and Rasley Ryklief, will have their 65 Toyota Corolla ready. Andrew Heine and Lloyd Brady shocked with their pace in the 77 Toyota Liftback on debut and should perform well in the Overberg.

The balance of the field consisting of the regular Western Province teams and one in particular should merit close attention. Concentrating on the Engen VW Cup for 2017 will see Paul-Hendrik Franken return to rallying in the practice 416 WBMK S4 BMW 325 and this rally is literally taking place in his backyard. Navigator still to be appointed but be warned.

Twelve special stages to determine the result, ten of which will have excellent spectator points at which every car may be viewed.

First team to leave the Rola Caledon start 14h50 and starting Special Stage 1 at 15h10. Saturday will start at 07h45 with the event coming to conclusion at 17h30.

This the only round of the South African Championship to come to the Western Cape in 2017.

Do not miss the action!