For some it was a day of victory, while others succumbed to the harsh challenge of the route.
Fernando Rueda/Pierre Arries in the N4 class withdrew moving Stephan van Dyk/Mark Pym up in the official starting order. Van Dyk/Pym in their Subaru STi won both overall and in their class. For this dynamic duo, it wasn’t all plain sailing. A flat tyre and an gave Shaun Jones/Billy Thorpe in their VW Golf GTi a win in stage three with the best overall time. Before the start Van Dyk said that winning is not a done deal, because you never know what happens further down the field.
Jones/Thorpe came second overall and first in class S5 followed by rivals Peter Heyer-Cleve/Brendon Schultz finishing seventh overall. Heyer-Cleve said that the tight corners slowed their four-wheel drive Mitsubishi Lancer EVO3 down considerably.
Andy Haigh-Smith/Gerald Brace in their Toyota Corolla RSi finished third overall and secured their first win for the 2004 season in class A6 after non-finishes for both regional and national rallies. Haigh Smith/Brace had quite a task at hand. They had a car to prepare after rolling out of the Total SA Rally, which left considerable damage to the body. Waving his trophy, a delighted Haigh-Smith thanked Jean-Pierre Damseaux for an excellent job done to get the RSi ready in time for this event. Abduraghman Amlay/Yusuf Ganief in their Toyota Corolla RXi had to see second place in this class slip away, because they finished later than their allocated time in the final stage eight.
In class N2, Jon and Doug Williams in their Toyota Corolla were hot on the trail of Haigh-Smith/Brace. The difference in overall time was 45 seconds. Ettienne du Toit/Patrick Vermaak had to settle for fifth place overall and second in class due to a flat tyre in stage four.
Stage two presented teams with a hillclimb and a yump before changing gears to deal with. Jones/Thorpe, Haigh-Smith/Brace, team Williams and Wessel Venter/Patrick Johnson in their Toyota Corolla RXi flew up this hill with ease.
Venter said that they will drive ’padlangs’. ‘Padlangs’ didn’t quite go as planned. They negotiated a bend too early, clipped a sandbank and rolled once, before landing on their wheels to continue and finish stage four. Neither was injured. Venter/Johnson were forced to retired thereafter. Rupert van Zyl/Christo de Bruin’s VW Golf had the same encounter with the sandbank.
Jean du Plessis/JC Barnard in their BMW 325i got their first win in class S4 and a sixth overall finish. Les Faasen and new navigator Annemarie McCracken in their Nissan Sentra STi finished second and ninth overall. At scrutineering McCracken said she is not scared making her debut and that she was ready for action.
André George/Hilton Auffray’s solid performance in their VW GT Golf 1 gave them a win in class S2 rounding off the top 10 finishers. Harry Giliomee/Fritz Blom finished second and thirteenth overall in their Toyota Corolla.
Nishaad Murudker/Adri Swart in their Toyota Conquest RSi won in class S3 finishing eleventh overall. Swart returned to navigating after a long absence and said she had to quickly adjust to being back in the seat. Lance Slabbert/Deon van Greunen in their 1.8 VW Golf GTi finished second and twelfth overall followed by Tienie Overmeyer/Wesley van Heerden in their Toyota conquest who finished fourteenth overall.
For some the rally was over before it started. John Peiser/Brian Hoskins were forced out of stage one with a broken drive shaft. Pierre Goosen/Sakkie Bosman’s clutch went putting an early finish to stage two. Mechanical failure put an end to the hopes of Neels van Wyk/Jeremy Northcote.
Kobus Edas/Denzil Isaacs in their 1300 Toyota Tazz, Kesevan Naidoo/Garth Scholtz in their Toyota Conquest and Clinton Sassman/Andy Schreuder in their BMW 325 were forced to retire from stage seven putting an end to their aspirations. This is not what navigator Isaacs envisaged for his first rally after an absence of over five years.
Mike Nathan/Pieter Euvrard’s dreams of putting their Toyota Conquest RSi in the top ten was shattered. A blown engine took them out of contention in stage four. Nathan/Eurvrard’s times for stages one to three compared well with the top four finishers.
Teams are already preparing for the CPMCC organized 2004 Automark regional rally on June 5.