Some competitors were glad to be back in the seat whereas others had mixed feelings about their first run after a long rest. It was Jon Williams navigated by Pierre Arries that dusted off the cobwebs very quickly to win the sprint in their Guma Volkswagen Polo. Williams put foot down and flew through the stages as if he’d never had a break. This was Williams and Arries’s first time together. Jon’s usual navigator, father Doug couldn’t navigate for him due to business commitments. Williams/Arries had to rely on “sign language” due to non operational intercoms in the first stage. “Stage one was more a testing outing” Williams said. “However, it was awesome to be back and to start with a win” he added. When asked how he felt with a new navigator Jon said: “Very good. Pierre could see how I compare with top drivers.” Arries has navigated for some of the well known names in rally.
Flying home to claim second place were John Peiser/Brian Hoskins in their Speed Cycling Components Subaru GT. Despite facing a second gear that kept jumping out, they held on to their position and chased the leader, setting the fastest stage times in two of the four stages. “We have the handling sorted out now” Peiser said and added that the stages were nice. On returning to the field he said: “I cannot believe we are back here doing it again. It feels like yesterday.”
Third overall were Paul Pfeiffer/Cindy Harding in their Mitsubishi EVO 6. Pfeiffer didn’t share the feeling of others on being back: “It felt awful as I have not driven for a long time. I took it easy.” He stepped up a bit in the last stage to challenge the front runners.
Innes du Plessis/P Carinis gave spectators a good show for their money, sliding their BMW 380i through corners at high speed. This saw them finishing fourth overall.
In fifth place were Ettiene du Toit/Patrick Vermaak in their AE Racing Toyota Corolla. They were getting a feel for the car after new shocks have been fitted. “We need to fine-tune the car and get used to it” du Toit said. Vermaak added that there was a major difference in the suspension as opposed to last year. “This was an early shakedown for us” he said.
Glad to be back after a long absence, Abduraghman Amlay/Yusuf Ganief in their Toyota Conquest finished sixth overall, despite a small misfire. “The car didn’t perform well today and we need to make some adjustments before the regionals start” said Amlay.
Finishing seventh overall were Kesevan Naidoo/Ceraj Allie in their Toyota Conquest. Naidoo said it felt great to be back and “to have the adrenalin rush. The sprint let us shake off some rust and we will be going back to the drawing board to get ready for the regionals” he said. Allie normally servicing for Naidoo changed a spanner for the navigator’s seat. Naidoo said there is a shortage of navigators which got Allie the seat.
There was no rest for the distinctive yellow 1600 Mitsubishi Lancer of Andy Haigh-Smith. The car saw three different crew taking it through its paces. First of the three and eighth overall were Steven White/Ashley Haigh-Smith who were well on pace.
Instead of the well known Datsun 1600, Gavin Grierson/David Delaney drove their 1985 Nissan Skyline to ninth overall. When asked how he saw them against the more modern cars, he said: “We drove for fun and just to be a bit ‘windgat’. The Skyline was the top of it’s range back in 1985 and this is to also promote the South African Historic Racing Association’s historic rally events.” Grierson is planning for historic rally cars to compete locally in regional events in their own class.
The second of the React Mitsubishi’s crew to finish 10th overall were Graham Reisenberg and Dirk Malan. Reisenberg, the parts manager for Mitsubishi got first hand experience of rally. Rounding off the field of competitors in 11th place were Head Technician for Mitsubishi, Malcolm Pfeiffer and Assistant Technician Jean Hendricks who looked wide eyed after their experience of what their cars are subjected to during a rally. Considering, their novice status they finished extremely well.
While for some it was a fruitful day, for others it was very frustrating. Serge and Jean Pierre Damseaux along with navigator Cobus Vrey had to withdraw JP’s Team Total A7 Corolla from the sprint due to mechanical problems.
Seeing a possible top five finish vanish in the form of a broken motor; close to the end of stage 2, were brothers Shane and Rob Williams in their Gijima Volkswagen Polo. Setting third fastest time in stage 1, the younger Shane were challenging brother Jon and Peiser. “I gave it stick” Shane said and added that it felt good to be in a proper rally car as opposed to the VW Chico.
With the dust shaken off and barely settled, teams are preparing for the first round of the Western Cape Regional Rally season, organized by the Cape Car & Motorcycle Club on March 3 at Klipdale.