KwaZulu-Natal rally ace Jannie Habig and his Gauteng co-driver, Douglas Judd, will be on the warpath in this year's Stannic Rally Championship.
Habig and Judd, the 1997 champions, will again campaign a factory VW Golf in this year's championship which gets underway with the running of the 41st Stannic Tour Natal on March 12 and 13. The pair lead a strong KwaZulu-Natal presence in this year's championship, but the "former champions" tag will rankle with Habig and Judd.
A recent AA Motorsport court of appeal decision which went against the VW pair saw Habig and Judd lose out on back to back championships. The court decision excluded them from the results of the Agip Rally in the Western Cape, and they missed out by one point to Castrol Toyota pair Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede in both the overall and Class A8 championships.
There won't be any love lost between the VW and Toyota camps this season, and that sets up the possibility of an explosive season. It also adds a little spice to the Stannic Tour Natal where Habig and Judd would love to get a flying start to the season.
Local hopes will also be pinned on experienced Tony Ball and Marti Olivier in Class A7. The experienced pair will campaign the Bulwer Park VW Golf in a category that - with the likes of reigning champions Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding (VW Golf), Barry Grobbelaar/Mike Burrows (VW Golf) and Gys Kelvin/Johan Barnard (VW Golf) - is going to be highly competitive this year.
Craig Trott and Gauteng co-driver Brian Duncan (Team Total Toyota Conquest) and Chris de Witt / Alec Harris (Toyota Conquest) will fly the KZN flag in Class A6. Trott and Duncan were consistent finishers last season, and this asset will again be a trump card for them this season.
KwaZulu-Natal crews will also be to the fore in two Class N championships. Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen, in the Nissan Sentra in Class N3, and Team Total Toyota Conquest pair Dean Sanders and Graham Hooper in Class N2 are surefire title contenders.
The Blackman/Klaasen combination just lost out to Hannes Grobler and Dave McGregor last season, while reliability problems at all the wrong times were a hindrance for Sanders and Hooper. The prospects for both crews look good this season, and a little help from Lady Luck could tip scales their way.