WBMK gave their all in Moorreesburg!

Oos Street and Koring Street flank a section of Kotzé Street in front of the Moorreesburg Showgrounds. Moorreesburg host to one of only two Wheat Industry Museums in the world, but more fittingly, an eleven circuit labyrinth.

On Saturday 25 June 2016 Moorreesburg came alive with the 1st Boland Trade Centre Gymkhana “labyrinth”. Round three of the 2016 Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship run in twin route format and for the first time the two routes were not identical. Quite an historic WBMK occasion as this was the 114th event in the series and the first time ever in Moorreesburg.

At 100km from Cape Town the 61 strong entry certainly set the scene for a festive atmosphere and initial concerns about the narrow street turned into smiles as competitors willingly turned the all tarmac surface event into a mixed surface challenge and though the two routes were not a perfect copy, matching performances entertained throughout the day.

Going into the final run of the day the father and son combination of Rafique and Hishaam Firfirey looked like certain winners in the awesome AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S Turbo 1.6. That is, until they decided to give the final bollard a lift to the finish line.  Then defending Witzenberg Champions, Fanie and Zak du Toit, posted their best time of the day in the FM Civils class A Mazda Rusler LDV 2.0 16v, but for once the father and son combination simply did not have enough to claim victory.

A resurgent Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dewald van der Merwe were on song and enjoyed their first error free event for a very long time in the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 16v Turbo. The four times champion in brilliant form and “Skoonpa” sang like a canary in the suicide seat to seal victory. Not enough, they also proceeded to wow the crowd with a display of car control that can only be described as brilliant. The Dynotech class G Toyota Corolla V8 4.0 gliding around the bollards and the few additional 360’s on each run was simply for the benefit of the appreciative audience.

And what an audience as a number of media and veteran drivers had been invited by the Witzenberg Motorklub to experience gymkhana hands-on. Boland Trade Centre risked making a number of vehicles available for this very exclusive opportunity with Motorsport South Africa approval. Vastly experienced 2009 Pirelli Star Challenge Champion, Jon Williams, joined by 15 year old FIA Academy South Africa candidate Giordano Lupini on the other end of the experience scale.

Test my Ride presenter, Ernest Page, joined in with CAR Magazine Associate Editor, Sudhir Matai, Michele Lupini of Cars in Action fame and 104Fm Tygerberg Motorsport Focus presenter, Neels Rabe represented media with motorsport experience whilst WBMK veterans, Jean-dré Pepper, Louis Groenewald and Dewald Nortjé sharpened their horns again.

As the first driver ever to win a round of the Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana Championship outright in a class D VW Golf MkI 1.3 it was no surprise to see Jean-dré turn in the quickest times amongst the Media category, but then, they were not there to see who were the fastest. Suppose that is much like telling Raikkonen what to do, the good intentions last until the robot says go! They did not earn rewards or score points or even have a class result but unofficially the top three was Pepper, Page and Matai.

Dewald van der Merwe and Izak van Zyl Jnr also swopped sides in the Dynotech class G VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 Turbo 16v and “Skoonpa” certainly had the bit between his teeth. Fourth overall almost as impressive as fifth placed Morné Roux and Liezel Oosthuizen in their class A Mazda 323 EGi 2.0 16v. The ultra consistent brother and sister combination once again proving that they are one of the best combinations in the series. For once they actually came very close to earning the Boo Boo award when they played skittles with a rather large pile of tractor tyres.

Man of the moment, Danye Louw, and Jacques du Plessis proving that their outright victory in the recent 5th Sir Garnet Gymkhana Wolseley was well deserved by placing the Boland Trade Centre class D VW Golf MkI Citi 1.4i sixth despite obvious wheel alignment problems. Chairman of The Stoor, Walter van Dyk, was in good form too and Pierre du Plessis navigated the class G VW Golf MkI 2.0 16v Turbo to another fine seventh overall.

Kobus Wilson Jnr and Werner McDonald returned from a brief siesta to dominate class F in that incredible Datsun GX Sedan 1400. Finishing ahead of the storming Du Plessis brothers no mean feat. Jacques du Plessis and Danye Louw had to abandon plans to race their regular 2.0 20v Conquest when oil appeared in the water and sportingly Pierre du Plessis offered to share his 1.8 16v Conquest. The fact that they then succeeded in beating Pierre and Wynand du Plessis to ninth overall will probably result in this offer being terminated indefinately but it was entertaining to see how equal they were in performance.

Hennis and Kelso van Zyl made their debut as father and son in their neat class F Toyota GT86 2.0 and Hennis certainly enjoyed every run enroute to eleventh overall and second in class. The standard by which you can measure your progress in gymkhana comes in the form of car No 13. Johann “Oupa” Zulch and Cobus Viola still the dominant combination in class E with the Ceres Toyota backed E30 BMW 325iM and for this combination to finish 12th overall in such a quality field serves as adequate proof that experience is a valuable asset in motorsport. Beat that BMW and you may start counting yourself amongst those that can.

Liezel Oosthuizen and Tania Vermaak achieved a remarkable thirteenth overall in their standard class I Toyota Yaris 1.3 with the tyre smoking Toyota of Izak van Zyl Jnr and Dewald van der Merwe slithering into fourteenth spot whilst Liezel Oosthuizen and Aatera Firfirey proved their consistency by placing the class D Toyota Yaris 1.3 fifteenth.

Arriving at Moorreesburg without having even started the freshly rebuilt Toyota 1600 engine in his class F Trysome Datsun LDV had Anton Smit and Tania Vermaak approaching the event run by run. A clutch change saw them attracting quite a crowd in the Pit Area but they prevailed to finish 16th overall and third in class. Marius Ellis and Francois Mostert 17th in the very neat Citrusdal based class A Opel Kadett GSi 2.0 whilst Liezel Oosthuizen and Morné Roux drove the Boland Trade Centre class B Opel Corsa GSi 1.8 to 18th spot.

Tania Vermaak and Liezel Oosthuizen achieved their best ever overall position with 19th overall in the standard class I VW Golf MkI Citi Sport 1.4i and Tania surprised by ousting the more familiar names as the Most Consistent Driver of the Day. The top twenty completed by the rapid firing and spectacular class G BMW Z3 3.0 Turbo of Leon Engelbrecht and Peter King. This car and driver certainly fast becoming a firm favourite with the crowds.

Cousins, Tania Vermaak and Carmen Nortjé, impressed with 21st overall in the Boland Trade Centre class D Ford Fiesta 1.3 whilst JD van der Merwe and Jean-dré Pepper enjoyed every moment enroute to 22nd in their Vredenburg Motor City class B Opel Corsa GSi 1.8. Masood Dangor and Aatera Firfirey somehwat surprisingly in 23rd spot with their AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S 1.6 Cabriolet and Natheer and Rafique Firfirey only 24th in the returning AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S 1.6. The light blue Cooper clearly still not back on par yet. They were followed home by Aatera Firfirey and Liezel Oosthuizen in the AHI Racing class I Mini Cooper S 1.6 Cabriolet.

If all that sounds confusing, it is! AHI racing has four Mini Cooper cars at their disposal and these are entered in various classes with various combinations in command. Just the way it should be for everyone as gymkhana makes it possible for the entire family to compete in the same event, with the same car.

Struggling with a tired gearbox Francois Mostert and Marius Ellis had to accept 26th overall as small reward for ther efforts in the class A Opel Astra 2.0. Günther and Louise Appelgryn were popular returnees in the always immaculately prepared Spiderman class B VW Golf MkI 1.8 but once the event turned “mixed surface” the couple opted to settle for 27th overall and third in class. Aatera Firfirey and Carel Bosch 28th in that hard working AHI Racing class G Mini Cooper S 1.6 Cabriolet with Willie Morries and Nicolas Retief 29th in the Access Auto class D VW Golf Citi MkI 1.4i. At least Steve Bekker had his name doing a gymkhana!

Jacques Otto and Emile Blanché were once well known as the combination in the US Army Toyota Conquest which now races in Kent Fine cars as replica of the Serge Damseaux Gp N car in the hands of Deon Conradie, but they returned in a good looking class F Toyota GT86 2.0 to finish 30th overall.

Brendan Freeman and Hilton Africa another to test their friendship as the Willie’s Service Centre / Autozone Strand class C VW Fox 1.6 is owned by Hilton and with roles reversed they also finished 32nd. First and second in class C on debut not too shabby for a car which only started Friday.

Aatera Firfirey and Masood Dangor next in the fourth AHI Racing Mini 1.6. This one minus the S and normally aspirated in class C. However, did we mention that Masood owns this car and that Aatera is his sister. Not too good for the frail mail ego when “Ousus” beats you in your own car. Not really, it’s what you want to see in gymkhana racing!

Joe Kramer and Adriaan Coetzee found it challenging to point their class F Toyota GT86 2.0 in the correct direction and eventually finished 35th overall, just ahead of the beautiful class G Toyota GT86 Turbo 2.0 of Jacques and Michelle Blom.

Two teams failed to qualify as finishers. Surprisingly Masood Dangor and Aatera Firfirey did not make the final result in their AHI Racing class C Mini Cooper 1.6 and the class F Toyota GT86 Limited Edition of newcomers, Bradley Burnham and Riana Viljoen, also did not meet the minimum criteria to score.

Class H as always a great tussle for single seater honours and it was Kobus Wilson Jnr (Datsun GX Sedan 1.4) that beat Günther Appelgryn (Spiderman VW Golf Chico 1.8) and Willie Morries (Access Auto VW Golf Chico 1.4i) to the top step of the podium.The neat Subaru BRZ 2.0 of Dhevan Govender fourth whilst Dewald van der Merwe (Dynotech VW Golf GTi MkII 2.0 16v Turbo), Dylan Steenkamp (Toyota GT86 2.0) and Danye Louw (Boland Trade Centre VW Golf Citi 1.4i) failed to qualify as finishers.

The sweetest form of reward is to give and though every combination certainly gave it their all on route the manner in which everyone supported the drive to support the Huis van Heerde (Child and Youth Care Centre) truly made one proud to be associated with the 1st Boland Trade Centre Gymkhana Moorreesburg. When Karen van Bosch had her LDV loaded with all the “groceries” donated and Marcile Louw announced the healthy cash injection the day was simply complete.

Thank you to Boland Trade Centre (Danye and Marcile Louw), Leeuwenkuil Family Vinyards, Roadmac, Supa Quick Moorreesburg, SAP Moorreesburg, Swartland Municipality (Oom Tom), Marina and Jurgens de Jongh, Wynland Lenings, HCT Konsult, Petrichor (Janus), Goosen Meganies (Johan en Pa), H&H Motor Spares, Autozone Strand, Willie’s Service Centre Strand, 7Stars Energy Drinks, Du Plessis Auto Ceres (Pierre and Jacques du Plessis), Televideo Ceres (Walter van Dyk), Unicom Services Vredenburg (Marius & Leatitia Bester), FM Civils Worcester (Fanie & Melanie du Toit) and the people of Moorreesburg. It may seem a huge number of acknowledgements but there were even more and each of them a valued contributor to the success of this event.

Okay, we said the media were there in non competitive mode just to add some spice and to prove the theory that driving a gymkhana cannot be difficult at all. They tried for sure, but the latter statement could not be further from the truth as five cones lined up in a narrow street succeeded in humbling even some of the most experienced teams. It really is challenging and it is really rewarding when you succeed – results simply proof on paper that you were there.

Ernest Page (Test my Ride presenter) and Nashrené Schloss running close to Jean-Dré Pepper (WBMK Veteran) and Liezel Oosthuizen in the same Boland Trade Centre Opel Corsa GSi 1.8 with Sudhir Matai (CAR Magazine Associate Editor) and Tania Vermaak consistent in third with the Boland Trade Centre Mazda MX5 1.6. Jon (2009 Pirelli Star Challenge Champion) and Rob Williams fourth in the Boland Trade Centre VW Golf Citi 1.4i and they were followed by Neels (104Fm Tygerberg Motorsport Fokus) and Maraliza Rabe in the Boland Trade Centre VW Golf Citi 1.6.

Michele (Motoring Publisher) and Giordano Lupini occasionally found grip to place the hard working BTC Opel Corsa GSi 1.8 sixth with Louis Groenewald (WBMK Veteran) and Frikkie Janse van Rensburg seventh in the Boland Trade Centre Ford Fiesta 1.3. Giordano (FIA SA Academy) and Michele Lupini eighth in  the over worked and underpaid BTC Opel Corsa GSi 1.8 whilst Dewald and Meghan Nortjé (WBMK Veterans) failed to qualify in the BTC Ford Fiesta 1.3.

More importantly the spirit in which these media members and WBMK veterans accepted the invitation to “compete” serves as accolade as they really became part of the WBMK gymkhana family for a day. Hopefully, this can be repeated somewhere in the future. Compliments too to the GT86 / BRZ owners.

Then there are those behind the scenes who rarely get more than a thank you for their efforts in making these events a reality. Robert Marle as MSA Steward, Pierre van der Westhuizen as Clerk of the Course, Anette Vermaak as Event Secretary, André Mitchell as Chief Scorer, Neville Gleeson as Chief Marshal, Dewald and Meghan Nortjé as the Start and Finish Marshals, André Brinkman, Carmen Nortjé, Hennie Hoffmeyer as the Judges of Fact, Uwe Pey as Rover, Hermie de Kock as Official and commentators Marius Bester and Neels Rabe.

As always Danie Burger will soon release his HD DVD on the event. Contact him on 083 448 2652 to secure your copy.

The 115th Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana, 6th Sir Garnet Gymkhana Wolseley, is scheduled for Saturday 16 July 2016 in Solomon Street and it promises to present a completely new challenge to competitors.

Be there!