WBMK trio dominate Ceres podium!

Think Ceres and you think fruit and good times. Mention Ceres to rallyists and they suddenly become uncomfortable and doubt appear about potential results. This is real rally country, testing man and machine to the limit on every stage. Attack and Ceres will defend, hold back and Ceres will call you out. Now 34 years young the Witzenberg Motorklub event have certainly developed a reputation and Saturday 13 May 2017 lived up to expectations!

At first it was very disappointing to see only a single Namibian entry present, having anticipated many more, but there were good reasons. Twenty four entries became twenty two but as you will undoubtedly agree after reading this, they provided a great spectacle in dry, dusty and truly testing conditions. It was great to see the Teletubbies, alias Thorsten Pey and Mark Palmer, present with a former service crew member in tow? This a good time to start a rumour? Allan and Zachary Martin made the trip from Walvis Bay, but it was strictly business this time, whilst Berto Mostert was also allowed to visit from Noordoewer.

As expected it was Richard Slamet and Derek Jacobs that led the field away from Ceres Toyota in their I&S Freight Services 98 S5 WBMK Toyota Run X 4x4. With brother, Ronald, trimming the edges off his knee caps at Killarney aboard his I&S Freight Services R1 Yamaha superbike both looked set to dominate their respective categories.

Taking 13 seconds off a determined John and Weston Peiser over the 5.29km Northridge 1 opening special stage certainly made it clear that they were aiming to collect on the hattrick promise and the Speed Pro Cycling Components 425 S5 Subaru Impreza GT 4x4 Turbo father and son combination would have to dig deep. Llewellyn Jones and Christopher Pichon re-united in the CEJ 434 S3 VW Polo 1.6 impressive with third fastest with Keenan Sassman and Llewellyn van Greunen, Howard Centre Motors 413 S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6, sharing fourth fastest with Warren Scholtz and Justin Gay in their 444 S3 CPMCC VW Polo 2.0. No blinking required, they genuinely looked quick out there!

Ever heard somebody say that Ceres has teeth? Well, SS1 bit and first to suffer was Rupert van Zyl and Marius Rudolph in the Hollandse Motors 405 S4 WBMK VW Golf MkII 2.0. The very popular spectator point yump some 1km into the SS provides great viewing as teams launch spectacularly with clearance from Cape Town International, but occasionaly landing rights are refused! The Golf snapped a driveshaft on launch and the very effective limited slip differential turned the VW into a vicious telephone pole assassin.

Though they claim that there was no intent they scored 10 /10 for style and technique, snapping the pole like a matchstick before retiring on the spot. Ettiene du Toit’s status as the pole tormentor shattered? The S2 CCMCC VW Golf of Tariq Khatib and Yusuf Ganief showing sympathy by shedding it’s left rear wheel to reduce the field to twenty cars after just 5.29km.

Quians 1 took competitors over a dry, slippery and at times rough 18.60km and it was somewhat surprising to see John and Weston Peiser arrive first at the ESS TC in the Subaru. Posting a time of 14min02 they were 1min26 clear of second fastest Tiaan Rabe and Jean-Pierre Jacobs in their “Golf” coloured 404 S2 WBMK VW Golf MkI 1.6. You are allowed to frown as this car was still running out of fuel on it’s way home the previous Saturday, the paint was hardly dry, and this was first time out as a team and they post second fastest without breaking a sweat!

There were more surprises as the Slamet / Jacobs Run X only managed 12th fastest and dropped to 9th overall. It started, or should that read, non started in the SSS TC and required assistance to start. Then, at 6.51km a !Crest 80 L9/Gate became !Crest “@#$%*”, sliding through the fence and stalling in the farmers land. Herman Mathee and Ruan Reynders third fastest in the 1973 vintage Madev 423 S4 WBMK Datsun GX Sedan with Warren Scholtz and Justin Gay just two seconds later in the, all of a sudden, very quick 444 S4 CPMCC VW Polo 2.0.

The rather intimidating stretch of deep water just 1km into the SS2 claimed the Howard Centre 413 S3 Toyota Corolla Rxi 1.6 of Keenan Sassman and Llewellyn van Greunen. Clerk of the Course, Pierre van der Westhuizen, stressed that teams must drive through water on the right side, but who is he after all? Well, that enormous hole on the left he mentioned proved to be the exact size of the Corolla!

Stage 3 was known as Laastedrift 1 and at 13.89km also respresented the most challenging stage of the event. Allan Martin and Berto Mostert present to see if the infamous !!Dip at 14.20km would claim anyone else. The former Namibian champions retiring from this event when their championship winning J&P Hydraulics S5 VW Polo 4x4 shed a left rear wheel in this very deceptive “mother of a hole”. Well, nobody cleared the stage dragging anything behind them but there were signs of contact at the following service park.

Richard Slamet and Derek Jacobs were on a mission and reclaimed 12 seconds from John and Weston Peiser, but the Run X was lightened by shedding the left front driveshaft, which removed the shockabsorber canister on the way out. The Peiser Scooby suffered irreparable damage to the right front suspension. With a 3min01 second lead the Scooby could have cruised to victory, but in the interest of crew safety they opted to rather retire from the event. Weston later cleared medically having complained of a stiff neck. An easy win now beckoned for the Run X but though the crew had all the parts they simply ran out of service time and they too had to retire from the event.

Leading the rally overall going into stage four was Tiaan Rabe and Jean-Pierre Jacobs in their incredibly quick Golf 404 S2 WBMK VW Golf MkI 1.6! Tiaan also admitting to a rather uncomfortable experience in the dreaded “hole” that seemed to want to roll the new Golf, but somehow they survived. Warren Scholtz and Justin Gay sportingly eased the shock factor with a faulty fuel rail on their 444 S4 CPMCC VW Polo 2.0 and Llewellyn Jones and Christopher Pichon also disappeared with unknown maladies on the CEJ S3 CPMCC VW Polo 1.6. Both would continue under super rally and both teams certainly drew attention with really impressive times.

Blissfully unaware of all the new challengers behind them Ettiene du Toit and Patrick Vermaak started out like old men (Ettiene would claim that there is only one old man in the Corolla) as the team had just rebuilt the Supa Mac 467 S3 WBMK Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6 after having attempted to run over a telephone pole in the Swartland. Fourth on the road and quite content they suddenly turned into the hare as first car on the road. Ironically the brand new shockabsorber decided to lubricate the left rear interior of the car in SS2 and they became even more cautious as Alan du Toit threatened to drive over them in the massive F250 truck if more damage was done.

Charl Strydom and Sakkie Bosman followed on the road and knew the status of the Corolla. Suddenly the Sabre Paints 406 S4 CPMCC VW Polo 2.0 20v bared it’s claws as the pensioner found his last Salusa 45 under the seat. Amazing what a Petter Solberg autograph on your car can do! You guessed it, they won SS4 (repeat of SS3 Laastedrift) by a convincing 13 seconds from a returning super rally rule 444 S4 CPMCC VW Polo and that impressive Madev 423 S4 WBMK Datsun GX Sedan 2.0 to move into second overall. A single second behind the Supa Mac 467 S3 WBMK Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6 of Ettiene du Toit and Patrick Vermaak who were still balancing between maintaining a fair pace and nursing the rear suspension.

The Corolla crew knew the stage times were tight, but as first car on the road they were unable to monitor the status and unbeknown to them the Sabre Paint Polo was just two seconds ahead of the Golf 404 S2 WBMK VW Golf MkI who in turn was 19 seconds up on the fourth placed Madev 423 S4 WBMK Datsun. And this was halfway into the event! Ian Long and Brian Hoskins slotted into 5th spot with their 436 S2 WPMC VW Golf MkI 1.6 whilst Captain Paul van Wyk and 1st Officer Divan de Goede held sixth overall in their NASA specified acciDent Guru 469 S3 WBMK VW Golf MkI 2.0 (that did not bend on this yump in 2016!)

Having already sacrificed his Namibian holiday Piet Bakkes and Kesevan Naidoo was struggling with wicked handling on their 419 S4 WBMK acciDent Guru VW Golf MkI 2.0 and they traded positions with the rejuvenated AHS Racing 432 S3 CPMCC Mitsubishi Lancer GT1600 of Andy Haigh-Smith and Tania Vermaak. The new clutch assembly proving reliable and efficient on the Yellow Submarine and the new combination starting to enjoy their rallying again.

Clearly Herman Mathee have been taking far too many supplements on his mountain bike races as special stages 5 and 6 were short, absolutely flatout, mountain passes. Ruan Reynders looked decidedly pale after SS6 but the Madev Datsun moved from fourth to second overall, just 13 seconds shy of the Supa Mac Corolla and three clear of the Sabre Polo by winning both stages overall!

It was game on going into SS7, the 18.6km repeat of SS2, and first to falter was the leading 467 S3 Supa Mac Toyota Corolla Rxi 1.6 when at 6.51km the !Crest 80 L9/Gate became !Crest “@#$%*” followed by a few choice expletives by the driver and a 180 handbrake turn somewhere beyond the L9! Really not very sporting of Richard Slamet and Derek Jacobs to set such a bad example as the farmer had closed the road with a wire gate after they had managed to invent the detour on SS2.

With the right front mudguard waving at the spectators the navigator was informed as to exactly how much it will cost to replace, but fourth fastest kept them in the fight for overall honours. Flatout in sixth does make 80 metres look rather short, especially if you only land after about 20m!

Llewellyn Jones and Christopher Pichon pipping Tiaan Rabe and Jean-Pierre Jacobs to the stage win by 4 seconds whilst third fastest saw Charl Strydom and Sakkie Bosman shrink the gap to the leading Corolla to just 8 seconds whilst that pesky little Datsun refused to admit defeat in fourth spot. Going into the final 5.29km Northridge SS8 just ten seconds separated the top three cars and set the scene for one final launch over the NASA yump.

Improving 32 seconds on their SS1 time felt good, but would it prove enough? Arriving at the Fairways Parc Ferme it felt like hours before the Datsun arrived with the genuinely disappointing news that Charl Strydom and Sakkie Bosman had broken an inner CV on their Sabre Paints 406 S4 CPMCC VW Polo 2.0 20v just 2.5km from the ESS TC.

Ettiene du Toit and Patrick Vermaak taking a very satisfying “home” victory on the Witzenberg Motorklub organised Ceres Toyota Rally in their Supa Mac 467 S3 WBMK Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6. Tiaan Rabe and Jean-Pierre Jacobs second overall on debut in their Golf 404 S2 WBMK VW Golf MkI 1.6! A very impressive result for the obviously talented driver.

Herman Mathee and Ruan Reynders completing a WBMK podium lockout with their Madev 423 S4 WBMK Datsun GX Sedan 2.0. Finally shaking the Ceres monkey off their backs with a brilliant performance and proving that a rear wheel drive classic could still mix it with modern front wheel drives. Their following increasing with each event.

Ian Long and Brian Hoskins rubbing further salt into the higher classed teams by missing all the gate posts and placing their 436 S2 WPMC VW Golf MkI 1.6 fourth overall before rushing off to Killarney for the start of the Campos 400 3 Hour. Paul van Wyk and Divan de Goede satisfied with fifth overall after a few “moments” in their acciDent Guru 469 S3 WBMK VW Golf MkI 2.0 with teammates Piet Bakkes and Kes Naidoo sixth in their identical acciDent Guru 419 S3 WBMK VW Golf MkI 2.0. Unfortunately no interviews possible as the next holiday was beckoning.

Seventh overall a deserved result for Andy Haigh-Smith (69) and Tania Vermaak (21) in the “Yellow Submarine” AHS Racing S3 CPMCC Mitsubishi Lancer GT1600. Ashley Haigh-Smith happy to see the car return in mint condition before he heads off to France for the next round of the Peugeot 208 Cup. Mustapha Mia and Ameen Snell finishing their debut event in an excellent eighth overall in their 456 S3 CCMCC Toyota Conquest 1.6.

Darren van Greunen and Randall Marais brought the ex-Duncan English 415 S3 WBMK Toyota Run X 1.6 home in ninth spot on debut whilst the ever consistent 418 S4 WBMK Toyota Hilux of John and Derick Clift finished tenth overall. Ismaeel Davids and Quinton Swarts encountered a myriad of issues enroute to eleventh overall in the Extreme Contractors 431 S3 Toyota Corolla Rxi 1.6 whilst Warren and Matthew Köhler were satisfied with 12th overall on debut in the very neat 465 S4 CCMCC Toyota Corolla 1.8 RWD.

Riyaan Amlay and Rafick Mia finished the event with all four wheels of their Ramlay Builders 433 S3 CCMCC Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6 heading off in a different direction and the final finishers (in 14th spot) was Julian Calvert and Terry Croy CCMCC VW Golf 2.0 named “Lulu”.

Prizegiving at Fairways was short and sweet. Pierre van der Westhuizen, Clerk of the Course, very complimentary of all the officials who walked the extra mile for this event. Johann “Oupa” Zulch as always leading from the front. Quite fitting then that the Witzenberg Motorklub organised event should be dominated by WBMK teams. No less than seven WBMK teams finishing in the top ten.

Round heads for Riebeek Kasteel and another completely different experience. Only those as “old” as Leon Botha and Francois Jordaan will remember what it was like to rally in this area so it will only be fitting to see Jacques and Leon Botha return in the Afrideca Plant Hire S5 Subaru Impreza STi 4x4 Turbo. Willem and Mandi Hugo also rumoured to join in the long trek from Windhoek. Mike Nathan set to return in the ex-Fernando Rueda Mitsubishi Evo IX Turbo 4x4. Now, did they say the car or the driver needed to be mapped?

Keep Saturday 1 July 2017 free, it is going to be worth the trip!