While Aliwal North was still slumbering, competitors were up before the break of dawn to start the rally in cold conditions. While waiting their turn, some competitors were stretching their muscles while others were going over pace notes. At scrutineering the night before, the general comment from competitors was that the roads were rougher and rockier than last year as gathered from the reconnaissance (recce) run that same day.
Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson in their A8 BP Volkswagen Golf 4 drove like Trojans winning the rally by 23 seconds. They made their intentions clear by leading the entire rally while their competition fought to catch up. For Hodgson the victory was double sweet. He added the elusive Mountain Trial to his career victories. A thrilled Kuun said that stage seven provided for a few anxious moments when they hit a rock and both thought the wheel broke. The feeling was short-lived however, when they realised the car was still going. A 10-second loss due to brakes that went couldn’t deter this feisty pair either as they headed for victory. Kuun sang Hodgson’s praises saying “Guy helped to go the extra ten percent and without him, winning this event would not have been possible” and continued that Hodgson is the best when it comes to rallying off pace notes. With this win under their belt Kuun/Hodgson are back in the running for the 2004 Sasol SA Rally championship.
Behind Kuun/Hodgson in class A8 there was a full scale war between second overall and in class Jan Habig/Douglas Judd in their BP Volkswagen Racing Golf 4 and Serge Damseaux/Robert Paisley in their Castrol Team Toyota RunX RSi. The 3-second difference between Habig and Damseaux sen illustrates how hard both teams fought for second position. Judd said that all wasn’t plain sailing. In stage five their front suspension broke and stage six saw the bonnet partly opening. Third overall and in class Damseaux sen/Paisley tried their utmost to keep up with the pace. Paisley explains: ”We were not fast enough’ and then smiled saying he should rather say “the others were quick”. Ettienne Lourens/André Vermeulen in their Team Total RunX RSi’s solid performance put them fourth overall and in class. At scrutineering Lourens said that they won the rally last year in an A7 car and that this rally is going to be flat out. He was going to try and respect last years performance. Cliff Blackman/Johann Klaasen in their BMW 320i finished sixth overall and fifth in class. Catching up with Klaasen in the Service Park after stage four he said that they were having a good rally.
In class A7 it was a day of elation for Hergen Fekken/Dave Lewkowics in their BP Volkswagen Polo Playa who finished fifth overall and first in class. At scrutineering the night prior to the rally he said that it was going to be a sprint from start to finish for them. Through sheer determination, they finished the rally after two disappointing non-finishes in the last two nationals. Fekken said that a brake pipe that came loose stopped them from beating Lourens/Vermeulen. For eleventh overall and second in class pair JP Damseaux/Cobus Vrey in their Team Total Toyota Corolla RXi it was a disappointing rally. JP Damseaux explains: “We went well in stages one to three, but then the gearbox packed up in stage four”. JP Damseaux added that a bolt that wouldn’t come out cost them a lot of time. They were forced to take 27 minutes lateness (rules allow 30 minutes extra) which got them a 4 min 10 seconds penalty dashing any hopes of a possible win. With only 3 minutes to spare, they had to run stage five without a sump guard. Tony Ball/Alec Harris in their Volkswagen Polo Playa came fifteenth overall and third in class. At scrutineering they said that the route was a bit rougher, but that they would go out and do their best.
In class A6 Craig Trott/John Costa in their Team Total Toyota Corolla RSi came ninth overall and first in class. At the end of stage six, Trott said that he was happy with their rally at that point. Steven Wilken/Megan Stow in their Toyota Conquest came nineteenth overall and second in class followed by Charl Strydom/Sakkie Bosman their Sabre Paints Volkswagen Golf who finished twenty first overall. Richard Vaughan/Kobus Jansen in their VW Golf CSL rounded off the class by finishing fourth and twenty sixth overall.
Allen Worms/Ciaran Nunan in their Toyota Tazz were first in class A5 and twentieth overall. Dolf Coetzee/Irma du Plooy in their Toyota Tazz came twenty second overall and second in class with Gugulethu Zulu/Llwelyn Fourie in their BP Volkswagen Racing Citi Golf finishing twenty third overall and third in class. Nkosinathi Nzimande/Derek Jacobs in the BP Volkswagen Racing Citi Golf’s rally didn’t go quite as planned. Derek Jacobs explains: “In stage two the rally went bad. The gear linkage came out and lost us 4 minutes.” He said that a puncture in stage four caused the tyre to wrap around the suspension adding a further unwanted 7 minutes to their overall time.
In class N4 Johnny Gemmell/Greg Godrich in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 7 failed to start. Schalk Burger/Vito Bonafede in their Subaru Impreza WRX came seventh overall and first in class. Burger said that due to the altitude the car didn’t have power, which put them back. It was important for them to get to the end. At the end of stage three he started to put foot down. Burger singled stage four out as their best part of his rally, saying they compared well with other competitors considering the route . Mally Saville/Dean Redelinghuys in their Subaru Impreza had a good rally finishing eighth overall and second in class. Nicholas Ryan/Brian Carrihill in the their Subaru Impreza finished thirteenth overall and third in class. Ryan said that he drove the car to the limit. Carrihill pointed out how difficult the route is for the N4s saying that an A6 car, which is a class lower, beat them. Lola and Megan Verlaque better known as the Rally Chicks in their Subaru Impreza finished seventeenth overall and fourth in class. Lola said “it was a fast and hair raising rally”. She said that they went off once. A bent shock in stage five caused them to go slower to ensure they finish the event. Visser du Plessis/Thilo van Westernhagen in their Metmeister Outsurance Subaru Impreza finished eighteenth overall and fifth in class. Barry Grobbelaar/Mike Burrows in their Subaru Impreza finished twenty-ninth overall and sixth in class.
Charl Wilken/Robin Houghton in their Castrol Team Toyota RunX RSi won class N3 and finished tenth overall. Rodney Visagie/Carolyn Swan in their Team Total Toyota RunX RSi finished twelfth overall and second in class. Visagie took a bend too fast in stage six and ploughed through the sand before steering the car back onto the road. Visagie said that he was not happy. He explains: “The oil pressure dropped and we lost out. Due to the oil pressure I stopped pushing.”
In class N2 Chris de Wit/Patrick Yende in their Team Total Toyota Corolla finished fourteenth overall and first in class, followed by Jon and Doug Williams in their Trident Press Toyota Corolla who finished sixteenth overall. Jon Williams explained how De Wit and he seesawed in stage times. Stage four was the the Williams’s nemesis when they spun and lost too much time to fight back. Jon said that if there were more stages, the results might have well looked different.
In class N1, Gary Swemmer/Peter Davison in their Volkswagen Citi Golf finished twenty-fourth overall and first in class. Pedro van der Walt/Pierre Jordaan in their VW Golf finished twenty fifth overall and second in class followed by Eugene Lourens/Janine Labuschagne in their Toyota Tazz.
For others the rally came to an abrupt end.
A sheared wheel stud ended the rally of Adrian Karth/Rikus Fourie in their VW Polo Playa in stage three.
Jakkie Joubert/Willie van Straaten rolled their Jo Jo Tanks Toyota Corolla in stage six.
Jacques Botha/Greg Gericke in their Bosal Brospeed Ford Focus went out in stage four with a damaged suspension.
Bryan Heine/Keith Heine in their Bryan Heine Racing Volkswagen Citi Golf and Salie du Toit/Tommy du Toit in their Rallystar Toyota Tazz also succumbed to the harsh route.
A sudden quiet fell on the town when the last engine was switched off followed by champagne corks popping celebrating victory.
Teams are preparing for the CPMCC organized Subaru Cape Rally that takes place on September 17 and 18 in the Swartland Malmesbury district. This is the penultimate rally of the Sasol SA Rally Championship series.