NORTHERN REGIONS CREWS UNDER THE WHIP ON VOLKSWAGEN RALLY
Crews from the Northern Regions were under the whip on the Volkswagen Rally, round five of the Stannic National Rally Championship, in the Eastern Cape over the weekend.
Only three Northern Region teams, one of them with a strong Western Cape influence, made it into the top 10. On top of that Northern Regions crews managed only three class wins, with one of them coming in Class S20 which does not count towards the Stannic National Rally Championship.
Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding, who hails from Cape Town, were second overall to stay at the top of the Class A7 championship and to remain in the hunt in the overall drivers and co-drivers championships. For the ultra consistent pair in the Rieks Towing VW Golf, it was their fifth class win in a row this season.
"This event has never been kind to us, and I was dead scared it would bite us again right at the end," said van der Walt. "This time we saw out the distance, had a little luck along the way and it was another satisfying result."
Not far behind van der Walt and Harding were Pretoria crew Barry Grobbelaar and Mike Burrows. The pair were fourth overall and second in Class A7 in what turned out to be a tough outing for crew and technical crew.
"We had one niggly problem after the other and the service crew did a superb job," said Grobbelaar. "They were determined we weren't going to pick up penalties for lateness, and they somehow saw to it that we steered clear of trouble in that department.
"We also had a little luck with other crews falling out, but to get results you have to make it to the finish."
Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz, in the Dunair Toyota Conquest, made it to the finish - in 10th place - but the wheels fell off for the pair in special stage 10. Lying in a comfortable second overall and well in control of Class A6, they went off the road and lost seven minutes.
But worse was to come. On their way to the service area Fekken and Lewkowicz were hit by Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede, who were on their way back to the control point at the end of SS10, with both the Dunair and factory Castrol Toyota Conquests suffering severe suspension damage.
Class win number two for Northern Regions entrants came from veteran Wiley Harrington and Neil Fourie in a Nissan Sentra. The win came by default with the pair promoted up the order in Class N1 when Rodney Visagie and Chris Olsen, in a Toyota Conquest, were excluded from the results for a technical infringement.
The other win came in Class S20 where Topcar editor Deon Schoeman, standing in for publisher Doug Kemsley, and Jan Sime cruised home in the Castrol Toyota Hilux. That also gave the pair, 21st overall after a steady run and victory in the Stannic Bakkie Challenge.
"I had to come up with some kind of result or never hear the end of it at the office," said Schoeman. "Apart from a problem with the lights at the end of day one we had a clean run.
"It was great fun with the Hilux a pleasure to drive."