Spiderman Strikes at Matzikama!

Near perfect weather, a strong 38 car entry and fantastic support from the Matzikama community made the 7th Lions Vredendal Gymkhana, in association with Vredendal Toyota, an event to remember. The cold and wet which most had experienced traveling to the venue made way for comfortable temperatures and pleasant overcast conditions perfect for motorsport.

Nico van Zyl and the Vredendal Lions prepared the venue to perfection and from early morning there was a flow of traffic entering the gate to the northern municipal airfield, settling in for a day of gymkhana action. This despite the fact that it was a long weekend and nearby Nuwerus Rugby Club celebrating their centenary.

Hendrik and his team had the Coca-Cola Sound truck prepared in no time whilst teams set up their cars for scrutineering. Anette Vermaak and Meghan Nortjé took care of documentation with Clerk of the Course, Pierre van der Westhuizen, and MSA Steward, Howard Daniels, in attendance. Even the feared Pit Bull, André Brinkman, managed to arrive on time – for once he did not confuse Vredendal with Vredenburg. Jonathan Curtis did however manage to announce SA paramedic presence at the southern airfield before realizing there are in fact another airfield to the north!

Leon Engelbrecht opened proceedings with the customary scripture reading and prayer during the competitors briefing. Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dewald van der Merwe the first competitive crew on course in the Dynotech clas G VW Golf MkII GTi Turbo 2.0. The route faced by the competing crews once again looked fairly simple on paper, with the twist being the efficiency each crew could apply in execution. Technique rather than technical, flowing rather than fast, no surprises, yet caution would be advised!

Brent Laurings and Duncan Andrews immediately stepped up to challenge the VW supremacy with a very good time in their class A Opel Kadett GTE 2.0 and the crowd acknowledged his impressive skill around anything resembling a 360º corner. Leon Engelbrecht and Rafique Firfirey made their intentions clear by motivating the orange Eikestad Plastic Repairs class A VW Golf MkI 2.0 to the top of the timetables. Günther and Louise Appelgryn also showed great form but though the time was great, cutting too tight resulted in a ten second penalty for the Spiderman class B VW Golf MkI 1.8 on the opening run.

Rafique Firfirey and Leon Engelbrecht less fortunate when the beautiful class A Opel Kadett Superboss GSi 2.0 16v suffered fuel starvation issues. A few hesitations here and there about the worst problems encountered from a navigational perspective but drivers were realizing the challenge at hand to post competitive times in all the classes.

Vredendal Toyota was well represented with three entries present. Jacques Jansen van Vuuren and Johan van der Merwe had the Vredendal Toyota class S3 Toyota Run X 1.6 rally car present as a class C entry whilst they were really geared for another good result in their giant killing Toyota Etios 1.5i in class D. The latter also campaigned by new lady combination, Vicky Steenkamp and Marista Jansen van Vuuren.

Gymkhana is promoted as a family sport and though Jacques and Maritsa Jansen van Vuuren set the scene as husband and wife the Kuilsrivier trio comprising Nic Oosthuizen, Liezel Oosthuizen and Morné Roux truly stole the show. The husband / wife / brother combination shared three cars for this event, totaling nine individual entries! Nic had his track spec class A VW Golf MkII 2.0 present, Liezel her standard little Toyota Yaris 1.3i and Morné the giant killing class C Mazda 323 160i.

The Matzikama also sported the very motivated combination of Anton Smit and Gavin Parsons in their wailing Innovative Woodwork class F Datsun LDV 1600. Fitted with motorcycle throttle bodies this little LDV in something to behold on course, the 1600 Toyota engine limiting at 9500rpm.

Mario Arp made a rare appearance in his Toyota Lexus V8 powered flexi oval track racer whilst Johannes van der Westhuizen had both his Mazda 2.0 powered Opel Corsa oval track racer and his unique Honda TRX700 Quad present. Johannes created the unique Lexus V8 powered Audi Coupé but his antics on the specially prepared Honda TRX 700 is what sets him aside as competitor – simply incredible.

New to the sport of car gymkhana the 12A rotary powered class F Mazda LDV of Jaco Retief had Johan van der Merwe pointing the way and though it may not have been perfectly suited to the twists and turns of gymkhana racing the little LDV quickly became a firm favourite with the appreciative crowd. The best news the fact that Jaco enjoyed it so much he is currently shopping for an appropriate car in which he plans to become a regular competitor.

Another debutant car was the recently completed 1974 class F Ford Escort MkII of Hermie de Kock. Sharing driving duties with Louis Groenewald their second Ford Escort will be joining the series soon and there are talks of at least one more. Clearly still in a development phase the car certainly did not disgrace itself on debut and it’s progress will be interesting to follow.

New to Vredendal was the class E FFR Buggy 2.3 of Deon and Maralize Conradie. Entered twice the popular D’Urbanville couple really enjoyed the wide open expanses offered by the Vredendal venue and the FFR Buggy responded well to every input on the day. Another team that will never miss another Vredendal gymkhana! Deon currently rebuilding the Jacques Otto Toyota Conquest as a Serge Damseaux Gp N racing replica.

At the front of the field the pendulum was swinging in favour of the Spiderman Golf as the opposition found it increasingly difficult to cut below the 1min50 mark. For some reason Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dewald van der Merwe failed to impress on the opening two runs and found themselves only fourth overall with Brent Laurings and Duncan Andrews third fastest in the sole Opel contender. Leon Engelbrecht and Rafique Firfirey looked the most likely challengers in the orange Golf going into the third run.

Spiderman was not taking any prisoners on the day though and the green class B VW Golf MkI 1.8 remained the only car capable of posting sub 1min49 times on the day. Günther and Louise Appelgryn achieving their best ever result by winning the 7th Lions Vredendal Gymkhana in impressive style. Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dewald van der Merwe dug deeper than normal to recover to second overall in the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi Turbo 2.0 whilst Leon Engelbrecht and Rafique Firfirey slipped to third overall in their Eikestad Plastic Repairs class A VW Golf MkI 2.0.

Brent Laurings and Duncan Andrews so close to the podium in their class A Opel Kadett GTE 2.0. Four very different teams separated by almost nothing in time after sixteen spectacular runs possibly the greatest compliment to the event as Vredendal hardly ever fail to impress on the result sheets.

Anton Smit and Gavin Parsons were truly impressive on home turf in the Innovative Woodwork class F Toyota 1.6 powered Datsun LDV. Screaming like a banshee the little LDV was driven on the limit on every run and the Van Rhynsdorp combination deserved their class win and fifth overall. Kobus Wilson Jnr and Jean-Pierre Robberts second in class and sixth overall, their little Datsun 1400 GX Sedan simply not capable of going any faster. The Worcester combination pushed as hard as only they can but had to concede defeat on this event.

The customary Team GrandPa war went to the A Team on this occasion, Izak van Zyl Snr and Dewald van der Merwe, taking the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi Turbo 2.0 to a fighting eighth overall. Rafique Firfirey and Leon Engelbrecht traced the fuel starvation problem but sadly could only recover to ninth overall in the immaculate class A Opel Kadett Superboss GSi 2.0 16v. Their never say die attitude saving the day.

Undoubtedly the Ceres Toyota backed class E E30 BMW 325iM of Johann Zulch covered the longest distance to the Vredendal venue. From his home base at Ceres Johann drove to Hakskeenpan to complete four runs on the pan before heading for Vredendal, eventually covering 1734km enroute. Sadly he arrived at Hakskeenpan minus clutch on the Beemer but with a 5km run and 2km recovery there was ample time to get the Beemer to it’s top end – which proved somewhat disappointing at 177km/h.

However, everyone was some 6km/h slower than the previous year and the top dog Lamborghini still managed 296km/h – on gravel! Nothing wrong with the anatomy there as even at 177km/h cars were moving around quite significantly. More importantly Johann was the first Witzenberg Motorklub member to participate in the Kalahari Speed Week at Hakskeenpan!

The other bonus was the fact that Johann Zulch and Tania Vermaak started the 7th Lions Vredendal Gymkhana as the class E champions for 2013. Possibly the fact that he was wearing shoes, but Oupa was in the mood as he had the Beemer properly sideways at times and saved on tyre wear by keeping the front wheels airborne at every opportunity. Tenth overall does not come easy in the bigger cars, this was another good result.

Morné Roux had his sister, Liezel Oosthuizen, as navigator in the class C Mazda 323 160i and unsurprisingly the standard car impressed with an excellent 11th overall position and class victory. On production tyres Morné Roux also shared the same car with his borther-in-law, Nic Oosthuizen, and with almost identical times slotted the Mazda into 12th overall, 1st in class.

Jacques Jansen van Vuuren and Johan van der Merwe unfortunately had to park the Run X rally car when it munched a CV on the second run but they were elated to take victory in class D, and 13th overall, with the Vredendal Toyota Etios 1.5i. Driving a similar car to equally good effect in 2012 resulted in second in class and 7th overall – Jacques very impressed with the level of competition present for the 2013 event.

Driving the Venusion class A VW Golf MkII 2.0 of Nic Oosthuizen to great effect Morné Roux claimed 14th overall and 5th in class at his first attempt in the car. Deon and Maralize Conradie only had one regret all weekend and that was the fact that this was their first visit to the Matzikama in the impressive class E FFR Buggy 2.3. Thoroughly enjoying themselves the popular couple finished the event in 15th place overall and second in class.

Proving that he is indeed learning with each event Nic and Liezel Oosthuizen placed their Venusion class A VW Golf MkII 2.0 16th overall and 6th in class. Dewald van der Merwe and Izak van Zyl Snr can normally be found in the top ten but found themselves limited to 17th overall and 3rd in class on this occasion in the Dynotech VW Golf MkII GTi Turbo 2.0.

Surprise of the day was the all girl duo of Vicky Steenkamp and Maritsa Jansen van Vuuren in the Vredendal Toyota Etios 1.5i. Nerves controlled their pace on the opening two runs but then the girls regained their composure and used the Etios power to their benefit to win class I on debut and finishing a very respectable 18th overall. Rumour has it that there are two husbands shopping for a dedicated gymkhana vehicle?

With nine entries between three drivers it comes as no surprise to find Nic Oosthuizen and Morné Roux in 19th overall with the Venusion VW Golf MkII 2.0 in class P guise. Second in class I and 20th overall went to Liezel Oosthuizen and Tania Vermaak in the little Toyota Yaris 1.3i. Posting almost identical times Liezel Oosthuizen and Morné Roux also claimed 21st overall in the class C Mazda 323 160i and to really rub it in Liezel and Nic Oosthuizen also finished 22nd overall in the Toyota Yaris 1.3i as class D entry.

Sharing the Toyota Yaris 1.3i with Morné Roux it was Nic Oosthuizen who claimed 23rd overall with newcomer, Jacobus Retief, and Johan van der Merwe claiming 24th overall in a rather special 12A rotary powered Mazda LDV. A really attractive little LDV possibly sprung too soft for this unexpected motorsport application but a pleasure to watch and listen to. Jacobus enjoyed the event so much that he too is now in the market for a dedicated gymkhana car.

Louis Groenewald and Hermie de Kock finished 25th overall in the recently completed 1974 class F Ford Escort MkII 2.0 and with his own car nearing completion there should be another Ford present in Ceres on 19 October. The fact that the owner of this Escort, Hermie de Kock, had to be satisfied with 26th overall may see both drivers being restricted to driving only their own cars?

Jacques Jansen van Vuuren and Johan van der Merwe unfortunately not classified as finishers with the S3 Toyota Vredendal Run X 1.6 breaking down on it’s second run. Günther Wurth and Reagan Farmer started all four runs but could not complete the designated route once. The Midas Clubmans class E BMW E36 rarely driven in a straight line and the pair could not be classified as finishers either.

Johannes van der Westhuizen simply had to be the Most Spectacular Driver of the day as he managed to complete the routes successfully aboard his spectacular Honda TRX 700 Quad. Truly something to see.

Fastest time of the day was posted by Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dewald van der Merwe in the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi Turbo 2.0 at 1min48.54, but only Günther and Louise Appelgryn could deliver two runs under 1min49 to claim overall victory in the Spiderman class B VW Golf MkI 1.8. Truly a supreme contest between the top four crew on the day!

Brent Laurings was his customary consistent self in the Opel Kadett GTE 2.0, winning the single seater category ahead of Kobus Wilson Jnr in his Datsun 1400 Sedan. Izak van Zyl Jnr slightly off song in third with Rafique Firfirey fourth and Johannes van der Westhuizen fifth and sixth in class respectively. Sadly Mario Arp failed to finish the event in his Lexus V8 powered flexi oval track racer.

André Brinkman, the revered Pit Bull, actually succeeded in distinguishing between Vredendal and Vredenburg to not only arrive on time but then did a stirling job as Senior Judge of Fact for the day. A special word of thanks to Awie Bothma and Exhaust Doctor who managed to rescue our Start and Finish Marshals, Dewald and Meghan Nortjé, when their car broke a CV enroute.

Pierre van der Westhuizen the Clerk of the Course with Howard Daniels the MSA Steward whilst Jonathan Curtis represented SA Paramedic Services for the day. Neville Gleeson and André Mitchell had the Jayen Timer performing perfectly and some time was dedicated in training future timekeepers, Carmen Nortjé and Nicola Consani.

Nico van Zyl and the Vredendal Lions deserve applause for another job well done. The post event prizegiving function superb. Being a long weekend for many viewing the magnificent flowers in perfect weather simply had to be an option and some even travelled as far north as the Loeriesfontein waterfall – well worth the extra time and effort!

Without a doubt the 2013 highlight of the WBMK Gymkhana Series!