Richard Slamet favorite for Ceres

On the 133 rd day of 2017 the third round of the Western Province Rally Championship will take competitors to the main centre of the Warm Antelope Field (Warm Bokkeveld). Quite fittingly named after the Roman Goddess of Agriculture, Ceres nestles in a valley that is extremely fertile and the are produces much of Southern Africa’s decidious fruit.

Entering the town from Michell’s Pass you could be tempted to try out the longest zipline in South Africa or picking cherries at Klondyke. Not rare to leave Cape Town in stormy weather and find beautiful sunshine in Ceres 170km later, but as many rallyists have discovered, do not let it rain during the event! Did we mention the fact that the event will take place on Saturday 13 May 2017? It might not be a Friday but it is only the 56th time in the past 400 years that the 13th falls on a Saturday. Of course, useless information as nobody in rallying is superstituous.

The Witzenberg Motorklub started life as a section of the Somerset West Motorklub and the Ceres Rally have been part of the Western Province Rallly Championship since 1983 which makes the 2017 event the 34th edition, and though it came close on occasion the event have never seen snow covered stages. Richard Slamet (WBMK)) and Derek Jacobs (CCMCC) won both the CCMCC iKapa Reticulation and Flow Rally Klipdale and the CPMCC Swartland Rally Malmesbury in their I&S Freight Services 98 WBMK S5 Toyota Run X 4x4 2.0 and the combination will almost certainly start as favourites in the Boland and would it not be special if the first snow of the season joins in the fun.

In fact, The Namibian visitors to the regional rally championship have been setting all kinds of new records with Richard Slamet not only becoming the first Namibian driver to win a Western Cape Special Stage Rally overall, he did it twice, consecutively. Not only will he be determined to make it three on the trot he certainly have proven worthy to do so!

Oswaldo Mendes as a fully fledged member of the Witzenberg Motorklub rallies with an MSA licence, but could still be considered the “Mayor” of Swakopmund. Oswaldo and Tinus Malan fresh from an impressive second place overall on the CPMCC Swartland rally and the Sky-Way 129 S5 Subaru Impreza STi 4x4 Turbo more than capable to surprise on any surface and in any weather. Cecil Koorts stepping in as navigator in Ceres as work commitments will keep Tinus Malan in Namibia.

Charl Strydom and Sakkie Bosman, Sabre Paints 406 CPMCC S4 VW Polo 2.0 keen to retain their status as team points leaders of the 2017 WP Rally Championship. Ettiene du Toit and Patrick Vermaak surprised even themselves on the opening event in the Supa Mac 467 WBMK S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 but then wrapped it in barbed wire after encountering a wayward telegraph pole in the Swartland. Keenan Sassman and Llewellyn van Greunen failed to capitilize on the misfortune when the Howard Centre Motors 413 CCMCC S3 Corolla retired with a broken CV . Riyaan Amlay and Rafick Mia showed consistency despite having started the first event with three broken fingers in the Ramlay Builders 433 CCMCC S3 Corolla and netted their first class win in Malmesbury.

Llewellyn Jones and a Michelle Taylor certainly drew much attention in their GCF Civils 434 CPMCC S3 VW Polo 1.6 but for reasons unknown there will be a new navigator in Ceres. Warren Scholtz and Justin Gay another combination that have surprised this year and their 444 CPMCC S3 VW Polo will undoubtedly also continue to be competitve. Andy Haigh-Smith and Tania Vermaak will be starting their third event as team and with continuous development on the “Yellow Submarine” AHS Racing 432 CPMCC / WBMK S3 Mitsubishi Lancer GT1600 both pace and reliability could see them surprise during the year. Their clutch problems now hopefully resolved.

Ismaeel Davids / Quinton Swarts 431 CCMCC campaign their Extreme Contractors S3 Corolla RXi entry whilst Mustapha Mia and  Ameen Snell will be in command of the 456 CCMCC S3 Toyota Tazz 1.6. Rupert van Zyl and Marius Rudolph completed their first gravel rally in three seasons with enough to smile about and they will be wanting more of the same in Ceres as the Hollandse Motors 405 WBMK S3 VW Golf MkII is hopefully back for the entire season. Winston Neethling and Lyle Marais in the ex-Hannes Grobler 428 CCMCC S5 Nissan Sentra 4x4, another must hear car from a truly special era of South African rallying.  Add the ever improving little Madev 423 WBMK S4 Datsun GX Sedan 2.0 of Herman Mathee and Ruan Reynders and the 418 WBMK S4 Toyota Hilux of father and son, John and Derick Clift, and the rear wheel drive fans have plenty to look forward to.
 
With no less than four cars under the acciDent Guru banner this team is always challenging to predict but Paul van Wyk and Divan de Goede should be leading the challenge in their 469 WBMK S4 VW Golf MkI 2.0. That is, if Divan is allowed out of the house after having been married recently? Chances are that Piet Bakkes 419 WBMK S4 will be galavanting somewhere exotic, after all he cannot stay home for longer than a week at a time. Now either Kesevan Naidoo will be back as driver of his own S3 Corolla RXi or he might pop up as navigator in something else.

Ian Long will substitute the Midas Clubmans Subaru Stationwagon for the 436 WPMC S2 VW Golf MkI 1.5 with Brian Hoskins as navigator whilst the much anticipated debut of Tiaan Rabe and Jean-Pierre Jacobs in the fourth acciDent Guru 404 WBMK S4 VW Golf MkI should attract much attention in it’s Gulf Oil livery.

Returning from a recent test session Tiaan was found stopped next to the road busy searching for reasons why the Gold had inexplicably cut out. After having it towed home fuel was added and it was driven into the garage. (Oops) No he does not look like Steve McQueen either ...

Warren and Matthew Köhler set to make their long awaited debut in their classic 465 CCMCC S4 Toyota Corolla RWD 1.8 whilst Tariq Khatib will have the services of Yusuf Ganief as navigator in his 412 CCMCC S2 VW Golf MkI 1.6. Making a welcome return to the regional scene is Darren van Greunen and Randall Marais in the ex-Duncan English 415 WBMK S3 Toyota Run X 1.6. No less than ten teams entered under the Witzenberg Motorklub banner on their home event. Definitely a record in the 34 year history of the club.

The 2017 calender throws everything at the regional entries having started off with the traditional Grand Prix speeds of the Overberg, the crunching yumps of the Swartland and now they head for the unforgiving roads of Ceres (13 May 2017). Then they head for Riebeek Kasteel (01 July 2017), an area only familar to the senior competitors, before an all tar session at Killarney (28/29 July 2017) and another blast through the Overberg (22/23 September 2017) as season finale.

With Richard Slamet proudly Namibian he does not score points in the Western Cape and as such it is WP Rally Drivers Champion, Shaun Jones (CPMCC), who ties with Oswaldo Mendes (WBMK) on points in S5. Both are Subaru mounted and pretty well matched on pace but they have John Peiser (WPMC) to consider.

Herman Mathee (WBMK) and Charl Strydom (CPMCC) possibly unaccustomed to the fact that they are leading the S4 championship but both drivers have certainly deserved their good results to date and look set to continue their rivalry for the balance of the season with John Clift (WBMK) running third.

Riyaan Amlay (CCMCC) currently leads S3 proving that consistency has benefits whilst Ettiene du Toit (WBMK) and Keenan Sassman (CCMCC) can only rue missed opportunities. The best supported category in the region with 13 drivers this class set to provide good action.

Ian “not so” Long cannot decide whether he wants to be the “Tarmac Terrorist” or “The Undertaker” but he is chasing after S2 points leader Tariq Khatib. The return of Tiaan Rabe will undoubtedly ruffle a few feathers in this category.

Eight special stages total 89.6km with 119.44km of liaison section taking the total event distance to 209.04km. Essentially a repeat of the 2016 event the weather could prove decisive as not only is rain long overdue in the area, there is even talk of snow! Now Ceres becomes a very uncomfortable place in which to rally when it rains.

Fortunately absoloutely no rain is expected leading up to Saturday 13 May 2017 with Sunrise ±07h27 and Sunset ±17h58 the day is expected to be partly cloudy with temperature 12ºC from 08h00-14h00 with 2m/s South Easterly and 29ºC from 14h00-20h00 with 2m/s Westerly actually sounding like the perfect day for a rally.

Be there!