Johnny Gemmell and Peter Marsh finished an impressive fourth overall and a comfortable first in the production car category in their Sasol-backed N4 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, 3 min 33 sec behind the overall winners.
Second production car home, 4 min 14 sec behind Gemmell and fifth overall, was the Team Total Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 of Fernando Rueda and Martin Botha. Third, a further 6 min 1 sec in arrears, and seventh overall was the championship-leading pair of Nicholas Ryan and Schalk van Heerden in the Bosal Total Subaru Impreza WRX STi.
Defending national rally champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd (S2000 BP VW Polo), who endured numerous problems in the Western Cape that included a five-minute penalty for clocking in early at a marshal and a jumped start, finished sixth overall and scored 15 championship points. This leaves them 26 points behind Kuun and Hodgson with one event remaining and, with the maximum points on offer for an overall win of 25, no chance of overhauling the new champions.
However, they are just seven points behind Kuun and Hodgson in the S2000 class title chase and, with nine points on offer for the class winner at the final round of the season, the PMC’s Tzaneen Rally on October 20 and 21, the defending champions still have more than their pride to compete for.
Other class winners were Charl Wilken and Greg Godrich (A7 Toyota Team Castrol RunX RSi), who were 8th overall; Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin (A6 Castrol Toyota RunX RSi), who were 20th overall; defending A5 champions Michael Houghton and Bryn Doherty (Team Total Toyota Tazz), who were 23rd overall; Kobus Roos and Niel Fourie (N3 Sasol Toyota RunX RSi), who were 13th overall and 6th among the production cars; and defending N2 champion Mike Nathan and Rikus Smit (AWI Toyota Corolla RXi), who were 21st overall and 11th in the production car category.
Chris de Wit and Patrick Yende clinched the N3 championship in the Team Total Toyota RunX RSi by finishing second in their class, 1 min 29 sec behind the Sasol Toyota of Roos/Fourie, and eighth among the production cars.
It was 10-times former national champion Damseaux’s first win of the year and extended his record all-time national championship rally victory total to 70.
Kuun and Hodgson’s championship win brings to an end the 15-year domination of the championship by Damseaux (10 wins) and Habig (five wins).
The scenario might have been very different had closest title rivals Etienne Lourens and Andre Vermeulen (S2000 Team Total Toyota RunX RSi) not been forced out of the Western Cape event by engine failure on the final open section after suffering from a misfire for most of the event. They were lying sixth overall at the time and were on their way to the final 11-km special stage at Killarney motor racing circuit.
Damseaux and Paisley, who have been together since 2002, made their intentions clear right from the start, winning two of the first four stages and leading Kuun/Hodgson by 21 sec at the overnight stop after six special stages that included three at Killarney circuit.
Electing to start fifth on the road on Saturday, the former champions maintained their lead throughout the day’s five stages, winning a further one
De Wit and Yende started the Subaru Cape Rally 13 points ahead of closest N3 title rivals Mohammed Moosa and Henry Dearlove (Team Total Toyota RunX), 14 ahead of Claudio Piazza-Musso and Greg Gericke (Sasol Toyota RunX) and 16 ahead of former champion Rodney Visagie and Arno le Grange (Team Total Toyota RunX).
Moosa and Dearlove fell out of contention for an important class win with a puncture on special stage one and a one-minute penalty for lateness at a control.
Piazza-Musso and Gericke, who dominated the class with their first win in the recent Osram Rally in the Free State, stopped in stage two with suspected engine failure (which later turned out to be a faulty fuel injector). Visagie and Le Grange were running a strong third behind Roos and De Wit with two stages remaining when they were sidelined with gearbox failure.
Barry Grobbelaar and Carolyn Swan were having one of their best runs of the year and were second in class when a cam belt broke on their Sasol-backed A7 VW Golf 4 on stage seven.
The two-day event, which started at Riebeek Kasteel on Friday afternoon and ended at the Western Province Motor Club’s Killarney circuit on Saturday afternoon, was organised by the Cape Car and Motor Cycle Club. It was held over fast sand roads among the wheat and canola fields of the Riebeek Kasteel, Moorreesburg, Darling and Malmesbury areas that were dry on Friday despite threatening rain, and were reduced to slippery mud on Saturday after heavy rain in the area on Friday night.