Stephan van Dyk/Mark Pym in their N4 Subaru STi dominated from start to finish taking a comfortable win of 6 min 15 sec over second place finishers Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson in their A7 VW Polo Playa. The rainy weather conditions and sometimes-slippery stages suited the four-wheel drive Subaru STi. A determined Kuun/Hodgson couldn’t equal or better the times of Van Dyk/Pym.
Stage one saw Kuun/Hodgson losing valuable time due to a faulty driveshaft. The limited slip div however allowed them to finish the rally. Van Dyk/Pym were hot on their heels barely 10 seconds behind them halfway through stage one. Prior to the race Kuun said that they will give it 100%. Mostly a national level competitor, Kuun said that a regional keeps them sharp and promotes his VW sponsor. Behind them Shaun Jones/Billy Thorpe in their S5 VW Golf GTi flew by followed by Wessel Venter/Patrick Johnson in their N2 Helix Harcus Automotive Toyota Corolla RXi who came fifth overall. Venter/Johnson said that they need a good finish and are going for points to stay in the championship contention. The non-finish in Ceres moved them from second to ninth position. Andre Cleenwerck/Carl Peskin in their A7 VW Polo Playa and Etienne du Toit/Patrick Vermaak in their N2 Toyota Corolla RXi overshot a T-road left, that cost them valuable seconds dropping Du Toit/Vermaak to fourth overall. Du Toit said prior to the rally that he wants to go smoothly in the wet conditions and will be looking out for the water splash. This is not so friendly to the valves. Du Toit is one of the upcoming drivers in South Africa. His all or nothing performance shows that he wants to graduate through the ranks and that he is up for a challenge.
Cleenwerck/Peskin, however couldn’t continue their run. Stage 4 was the nemesis that put a cruel end to their rally. For Jon and Doug Williams in their N2 Toyota Corolla it was a good rally overall rewarding them with third overall. Though finishing slower in five of the nine stages, they managed to put in faster times in the other four stages displacing Du Toit/Vermaak. Williams Junior said that Venter was the man to watch and that the N2 cars were going to be the class to watch today. It was going to be a good dice. Indeed it was with the William’s emerging the winners.
Stage three and six proved to be very challenging due to slippery conditions, a watersplash and various bends to negotiate. Sheer skill and determination had 14 of the 23 competitors beat these two stages. In stage six it looked like the Subaru STi of Van Dyk and Pym were sucked to the ground, the way it flew through corners, while it’s two-wheel drive opponents struggled through some of the bends. Van Dyk had a very good handle on the car and made it look easy to slide the Subaru through bends and corners edging closer and closer to Kuun and Hodgson till both cars could be seen together in the distance in stage six.
Charl Strydom/Sakkie Bosman in their A6 VW Golf came sixth overall and first in their class despite difficult circumstances. Strydom dedicated this race to Bella his daughter who died tragically in a car accident prior to the Ceres Rally May 22. Strydom said prior to the race, that he was going to go out there, concentrate and do it for Bella. Jacques Brits/Johan le Grange came seventh overall in their N2 Toyota Conquest followed by Andre George/Hilton Auffray in their S2 VW GT Golf 1.
Yet another solid performance had Tienie Overmeyer/Wesley van Heerden in their S3 Toyota Conquest finish ninth overall and first in their class.
John Peiser/Brian Hoskins in their N1 Speed Pro Cycling Components 1.4 VW Golf came tenth overall accomplishing what they set out to do. Peiser said that they aimed to finish since this is their first rally in wet weather conditions. Leon Esterhuyse/Marco Hamilton in their N3 Opel Kadett finished 11th overall followed by Lance Slabbert/Deon van Greunen in their S3 VW Golf Mach 2 GTi. Rounding off the field of 13 finishers was Kesevan Naidoo/Garth Scholtz in their S2 Toyota Conquest.
Other competitors had to yield to the harshness of the route.
Most disappointed of all was Jean du Plessis/J C Barnard in their BMW 325i who was robbed of a finish and position in the form of a stripped div in the closing moments of the final stage 9. Another competitor caught out by the final stage gremlin was the S3 VW Golf of Rupert van Zyl/Christo de Bruin.
Shaun Jones/Billy Thorpe in their S5 VW Golf GTi got excluded in stage six after having a new fan belt fitted by the service crew a couple of kilometers into the stage. This does not comply with competition rules that bars outside assistance in a control (stage) area. However, Jones/Thorpe continued for the spectators, showing off their skill in the final stage at Killarney Race Track.
Abduraghman Amlay/Yusuf Ganief in their A6 Toyota Corolla RXi and Nishaad Murudker/Adri Swart in their S3 Toyota Conquest RSi found themselves out of contention in stage five.
Leon Oosthuizen/Rodney Pedro in their S4 VW 2L Jetta went out with front suspension failure in stage six.
Shaun Lipshitz/Kurt Eriksen in their S3 VW Golf succumbed to stage seven with a blown engine.
Peter Heyer-Cleave/Brendon Schultz in their S5 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO3 went out in stage three with a seized engine. Heyer-Cleave said, that the speedometer is still stuck at 220km. In stage three, the EVO3 performed the highest and longest jumps on the two yumps at the spectator stage. Spectators were clearly delighted by this.
Stage three claimed another victim in the form of the S4 BMW 325 of Clinton Sassman/Andey Schreuder after their sump cracked.
It was yet another day of South African rallying at its best. The skills displayed today shows that we have homegrown talent that is on par with their overseas counterparts.
We move on to the Sasol Rally taking place from 18 to 19 June.