Natal Rally report

*********************************************************** Colin Windell <colin.windell@digitec.co.za> CyberRace Inc (c) 1996. All rights reserved ************************************************************ Reigning South African...

*********************************************************** Colin Windell <colin.windell@digitec.co.za> CyberRace Inc (c) 1996. All rights reserved ************************************************************

Reigning South African Rally Champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede stormed into an early lead in the first round of the 1996 championship, winning the 38th Tour Natal Rally by six minutes, with Toyota picking up four of the top six placings.

However, it nearly fell apart completely on the very last corner of the final stage when he went wide and hit a kerb, breaking a rear wheel and arriving at the final control on three wheels.

Damseaux went into the lead from the start at the Pavilion Shopping Centre in Durban on Friday, blasting through the 490 metre opening stage in the parking in just 39 seconds and was never seriously challenged from then on.

Peter Alterskye and Allan Bisset in the ex-works Mr X-Haust Mr Tyre Toyota Conquest finished second, their position virutally assured when their main challengers Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson in the Hyundai Accent were forced to retire on special stage 12 with a broken clutch.

Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley in a Team Total Toyota Conquest put in a spirited drive on their home turf to be the quickest of the two-wheel drive cars and third overall, albeit chased right to the finish by the Autoquip Volkswagen Golf of Terry Brand and Geoff Tyrer.

The rain which had threatened all of the first day vanished overnight and Saturday morning dawned bright and hot with 28 of the original 39 starters heading south from Durban for the final 11 stages of the event.

After 13 of the 21 special stages making up the Tour Natal Damseaux and Bonafede had extended their lead to three minutes and 28 seconds over Alterskye and Bissett in the Mr X-Haust Mr Tyre Toyota Conquest 4x4.

Damseaux simply continued to power away from the field and by the lunch break at Sezela was more than five minutes ahead of Alterskye who was followed by Lourens, now more than a minute behind. Brand was further minute that and, with 64 kilometres of special left, the overall positions were secured.

Young Hergen Fekken with Niel Fourie in the navigator's seat finished fifth in their Team Total Toyota Conquest, ahead of Tony Ball and Martie Olivier (Team Total Volkswagen Golf).

Jan Habig and Douglas Judd debuted their StanBrik Volkswagen Golf in the new Formula 2 class but were forced to withdraw after the first section when a computer chip in the engine management system malfunctioned and could not be replaced.

The only other Formula 2 entry, the Rieks Towing Volkswagen Golf of Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding was challenging strongly for a place in the points when a ring gear broke and, despite changing the gearbox, they were forced to retire in the next stage.

RESULTS

1. Damseaux/Bonafede (Toyota Conquest), 02hr06,01 2. Alterskye/Bissett (Toyota Conquest), 02hr12,02 3. Lourens/Paisley (Toyota Conquest), 02hr14,03 4. Brand/Tyrer (Volkswagen Golf), 02hr16,05 5. Fekken/Fourie (Toyota Conquest), 02hr17,27 6. Ball/Olivier (Volkswagen Golf), 02hr19,57 7. Grobbelaar/Pretorius (Volkswagen Golf), 02hr25,07 8. Martin/Clifton (Toyota Conquest) 02hr25,57 9. Trott/Fryer (Toyota Conquest) 02hr26,40 10. Viljoen/Vermeulen (Toyota Conquest), 02hr27,26

Stages : 21 Stage Distance : 192,22 km Weather : Day 1 - cloudy, some drizzle : Day 2 - sunny and hot Rally Leaders : Damseaux - SS1 - SS21 

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