Schalk Burger and Vito Bonafede scored a well-deserved win on the 7th round of the Sasol SA Rally Championship, the Subaru Cape Rally, held in Cape Town and the Swartland district of the Western Cape, beating the factory entered teams by 1 minute 48 seconds on an event punctuated by rain squalls throughout the 11 stage event this past weekend. -

- This was Burger’s first ever national rally win in 32 years of competing in the sport, and comes in the twilight of his career as he has announced his retirement at the end of the season. The result also gives Burger and Bonafede their consecutive Production Car and class N4 championships. -

- The Bridgestone Sasol Subaru Impreza WRX Sti crew took the lead on the opening stage of day two and built up a comfortable lead over the remaining 135km of the Saturday stages. -

- “The car and the team were perfect – it was difficult to keep the Subaru Impreza on the road at times, but I’m very happy that this win came on the Subaru Rally”, Burger said at the Cape Town finish. -

- The surprise overnight leaders on Friday were the local Cape Town based team of Richard Behm/Grant St Clair (Palbin Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6) driving magnificently over the opening five stages. Behm, under pressure from a hard charging Burger, went off the road in the slippery conditions in stage 6, retiring after St Clair hurt his back muscles. -

- Second overall were the defending Sasol SA Rally Championship pairing of Serge Damseaux and Robert Paisley in the factory entered Team Castrol Toyota RunX RSi, who twice slithered into gate posts, causing cosmetic damage to the Toyota, demonstrating just how tricky the conditions had become. -

- Throttle control problems late in the event caused a few heart-stopping moments in stage 10 and again on the final stage, but they cleared themselves and allowed Damseaux to close the championship points deficit to rivals Jan Habig/Douglas Judd to just two points with one event remaining this year. -

- Visser du Plessis/Thilo von Westernhagen scored their career best finish in their Metmeister Outsurance/Sasol Subaru Impreza WRX Sti, ending third overall after losing time on day 1 with differential problems, which kept the car in two wheel drive. -

- A puncture in the final gravel stage hampered Du Plessis’s efforts to stay ahead of the hard-charging BP Golf, going into the final tar stage with a lead of 26 seconds. It was enough, and Du Plessis’ podium was secure with an 8 second gap. -

- The Volkswagen team protested an alleged rule infringement by Du Plessis in the parc ferme, who has appealed his exclusion. The decision and all positions from 3rd remain provisional until the case is heard by Motorsport South Africa. -

- Championship leaders Habig and Judd ended 4th overall in the factory A8 BP Volkswagen Golf. The pairing lost 5½ minutes in stage one with a broken sideshaft while the Golf refused to engage 6th gear. -

- A mighty charge over day two saw this duo claw their way from an unaccustomed 16th overall to 4th in the slippery conditions, blitzing the field over the last stages. -

- “It was very tricky to drive so hard in these conditions – you make a decision and there is no going back. No grip, no recovery plan – you live with it”, said Habig. -

- Stephan van Dyk and Mark Pym brought their House of Subaru Impreza WRX Sti home in 5th place after holding down a podium position for much of day 2. The local pairing had a gear linkage problem to contend with, as well as a puncture over the final 11km of the final gravel stage, which cost them a career first podium result, but they nevertheless scored their best result to date. -

- Mally Saville/Dean Redelinghuys claimed a fighting 6th overall with their Auto Services Subaru Impreza WRX Sti, after twice going off the road in consecutive stages, causing just cosmetic damage. The elder statesman of rallying suffered from a bout of flu as well as hurting his back after a hard landing after jumping over one of the many contours and finished the event in considerable pain. -

- They did enough on the final stage at Killarney racetrack to relegate Nicholas Ryan/Brian Carrihill (Bosal Subaru Impreza GT) to 6th, although Ryan had to complete the last three stages without the use of a clutch, losing time on all the slow corners. -

- The L&J Plant Services/Sasol Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 of Johnny Gemmell/Greg Godrich retired at the start of stage three with gearbox failure, while in a strong position in the standings. -

- Class A7 winners Adrian Karth/Rikus Fourie (NetConnect BP Volkswagen Polo Playa) ended in 8th overall after a trouble free run, ahead of Jean Pierre Damseaux/Cobus Vrey (Team Total Toyota Corolla), 4th overnight, but ending in 9th position after losing 8 minutes in stage 7 with a broken driveshaft and another 4 minutes in stage 10 with a puncture, driving 20 km of the flat wheel. -

- The BP Volkswagen Polo of Hergen Fekken/Dave Lewkowicz was the first casualty of the event, retiring 300 metres into stage 1 after landing heavily after tackling a contour in the road, pushing the bumper and power steering pump into the radiator. -

- Father and son Jon/Douglas Williams (Trident Press Toyota Corolla) won class N2 and ended a brilliant 10th overall after a rally-long fight with the current class drivers’ champion Chris de Wit and co-driver Patrick Yende’s similar Team Total machine. The two teams swapped stage wins throughout the 11-stage rally, and the outcome was settled by a puncture for de Wit in stage 10, which cost the championship points leader 40 seconds. -

- The class A6 winning JoJo Tanks Toyota Corolla of Jakkie Joubert/Willie van Straaten ended 11th overall after a perfect run. Their championship rivals Craig Trott/John Costa (Team Total Corolla) suffered gearbox problems on day 1 and were never in the hunt for victory after changing the unit in service at the end of day one’s action. -

- Class N3 went to the Team Castrol Toyota RunX RSi of Charl Wilken/Robin Houghton in spite of losing 2 minutes on the first stage with a misfire. They raced back up the leader board over day two’s stages, but damaged the front of the car after a hard landing, damaging the radiator, which sprang a leak. -

- Wilken was forced to ease his pace as another impact could break the weakened radiator cradle, but held off their title rivals Rodney Visagie/Carolyn Swan, who struck gearbox problems in their similar Team Total RunX RSi. Wilken now needs just one point from the final event to claim back-to-back class N3 championships. -

- Jacques Botha/Greg Gericke brought their Bosal Brospeed Ford Focus home second in class N3 in spite of handling problems throughout the event. -

- Dolf Coetzee/Irma du Plooy (Toyota Tazz) won class A5 ahead of the Sasol Volkswagen Chico of Gugu Zulu/Llewellyn Fourie, who endured a torrid event. 800 metres into stage 1, Zulu lost his lower gears and had to drive through the stage in 4th and 5th gear, losing 9 minutes in the process. Service lateness incurred while fixing the gearbox of 25 minutes added to the youngster’s woes. -

- Day two saw Zulu on the class pace, but the time loss was too much to recover in the remaining 135 km of stage mileage. -

- Eugene Lourens/Janine Labuschagne wrapped up the class N1 championship in their Hitachi Toyota Tazz with their third class win of the year after title rivals Gary Swemmer/Peter Davidson (Riken Volkswagen Chico) selected the wrong tyres and damaged their suspension. -

- Other leading retirements included: -

- § Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson (BP Volkswagen Golf) – withdrew before (Enzo broke arm in quad fun). -

- § Etienne Lourens/Andre Vermeulen (Team Total Toyota RunX RSI) – engine ss1 -

- § Nkosinathi Nzimande/Derek Jacobs (BP Volkswagen Chico) – suspension ss1 -

- § Cliff Blackman/Johan Klaasen (Topcar Bosch BMW 320i) – driveshaft ss1 -

- § Vusi Mabanga/Gert van Rensburg (Team Total Toyota Tazz) – engine ss2 -

- § Barry Grobbelaar/Mike Burrows (Sasol Subaru Impreza WRX) – electrics ss2 -

- § Salie/Tommy du Toit (Toyota Tazz) – engine ss3 -

- § Callie van der Merwe/Gideon Trollip (Mobil Subaru Impreza GT) – gearbox ss5 -

- § Andy Haigh Smith/Gerald Brace (Team REACT Toyota Corolla) – off road ss10 -

- 30 of the original 55 starters finished the CPMCC-organized event. -

- The Subaru Cape rally will be broadcast on MNET Supersport this Saturday and on Sasol Rally Scene on SABC 3 directly after the Chinese Grand Prix qualifying session at approx. 09h00 on Saturday. Watch the daily press for exact broadcast times. -

- The 8th and final round of the Sasol SA Rally Championship 2004 is the PMC Great North Rally around Tzaneen from 15 to 16 October, where all the championship issues will be resolved. Only classes N4 and N1 have been claimed, so everyone will be going flat out through the Tzaneen forests to stake their championship claim. -

- For more information on Subaru Cape Rally or any aspect of the Sasol SA Rally Championship 2004, log on to www.sasolracing.co.za or call 08-22-33-4321-

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