Malcolm Saville and Alec Harris scored their second consecutive top 10 finish in the Tre Cento Cape Rally, held in the Western Cape last weekend (12-13 April), and were again the top Subaru Impreza competitor.
The genial Pietermaritzburg-based driver built his jet black Subaru Impreza WRX with the assistance of the enthusiastic Auto Services Subaru dealer in KwaZulu Natal for the 2002 season and has scored points on both outings so far this year, ending a brilliant 7th overall and second in class N4 on the opening round in Natal last month.
In what Saville describes as an “excellent run”, the ‘50-something’ year old driver was closer to the established class leaders pace, finishing just 1 second behind Johnny Gemmell and Robert Paisley’s L&J Plant Services Impreza WRX Sti on SS4.
With a steep learning curve ahead of them and more developments planned for the car, Saville and Harris are getting quicker with each outing and are looking forward to the Total Rally of South Africa in three weeks time (2-4 May).
Overall Group N champion Johnny Gemmell and new for 2002 navigator Robert Paisley had another disappointing rally. The L&J Plant Services Impreza WRX Sti, which was damaged in the opening round of the series, suffered a rare mechanical failure at the end of stage 5 on Saturday morning.
The disappointed Gemmell believes the failure, the first in over a year of hard rallying, is a throwback to his March accident.
“We were running well on the first day,” said Gemmell. “After 2 stages we were tied for the overall lead of the rally with Jan Habig in the more powerful, modified factory Golf, so it’s a great shame that we couldn’t continue”. Ending day 1 in third place, just 4 seconds behind the factory Toyota promised much for the Johannesburg businessman.
The other Subaru runners, Gawie Nel/Johan Barnard and Nicholas Ryan/Brian Carrihill, both finished in the points.
Nel, a Zambian domiciled businessman had a new navigator for this event, the hot seat of the Beaver Services Subaru Impreza WRX filled by Johan Barnard, as wife and regular navigator, Santie, was writing exams. Third place in class N4 was their best result yet, as Nel adapts to his new rally machine.
The car is fantastic – no mechanical problems”, reported Nel at the end of the event. “We underestimated the number of tyres we would use, and had to run on old tyres for part of the day, which obviously didn’t help. This was my first event in the Cape, and now I know what to expect in September”.
Youngster Nicholas Ryan, in only his second national rally, ended a creditable 14th overall in his ABC Motors-supported Subaru Impreza. With navigator Brian Carrihill alongside, the inexperienced Gauteng crew had an eventful rally.
An off-road excursion on stage three lost the team nearly 4 minutes, while in stage 6 the crew hit a series of jumps, landing with sufficient force to break a headlight and tweak the chassis, which altered the handling characteristics for the duration of the event. A farmer’s fence was removed in stage 7, where after the pairing settled down to make up lost time. “The car is perfect – it’s just so fast!”, exclaimed Ryan at the service park after stage 13.
The 3rd round of the SA National Championship, and the second round of the FIA African Rally Championship, takes place from 2-4 May, and will see a massive Subaru presence, headed by current FIA African Rally Champions Schalk Burger/Piet Swanepoel (Bridgestone Impreza WRX Sti) and multiple champion Satwant Singh/AN Other (Mobil 1 Subaru Impreza WRC) in action on SA soil.