Stannic Fleet Management Rally Reports 1-6

14/8/98 There was a festive atmosphere when the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, round six of the Stannic National Rally Championship, got underway at Innesfree Park in the heart of Sandton this morning. A total of 46 cars came under starters...

14/8/98

There was a festive atmosphere when the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, round six of the Stannic National Rally Championship, got underway at Innesfree Park in the heart of Sandton this morning.

A total of 46 cars came under starters orders on an event that brings plenty of innovation to South African rallying. The rally will be run entirely in metropolitan areas in Gauteng and includes the world's first indoor special stage on a national championship event.

The opening special stage saw 11 times South African champion Sarel van der Merwe, sharing a Daewoo Lanos with Martin Botha, share the fastest time with six times South African champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede in the new Castrol Toyota Conquest. The Daewoo and Toyota were two seconds quicker than the second Daewoo Lanos driven by Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson. Kuun and Hodgson were in turn two seconds quicker than raining South African champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd in the factory VW Golf.

Apart from innovative features the Stannic Fleet Management Rally has huge interest created by other factors. Only one point separates Damseaux/Bonafede and Habig/Judd in the championship, and there is also the return to action of van der Merwe who is making his first appearance of the season in the new Daewoo kitcar.

Van der Merwe quickly showed that he has lost none of the skill that has made him the most successful driver in South African rally history. Super van and Botha took another second off Habig and Judd in special stage two at the AA Kyalami Grand Prix circuit, and six seconds off Damseaux and Bonafede.

This put van der Merwe and Botha into an early five second lead over Habig and Judd with crews heading for two special stages at the Gerotek test facility near Pretoria west. The rally then heads back to AA Kyalami and the Expo Centre at Nasrec for the final special stages of the day.

BULLETIN TWO

VAN DER MERWE AND BOTHA OUT OF STANNIC FLEET MANAGEMENT RALLY

There was early drama on the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, round six of the Stannic National Rally Championship, which started in Sandton today with special stage three claiming one of the big fish in South African rallying.

11 times champion Sarel van der Merwe and co-driver Martin Botha, in the new Daewoo Lanos, were the first major casualty when they came to a stop in a watersplash at the Gerotek test facility near Pretoria West. Water was sucked into the engine with van der Merwe, leading the rally by five seconds and making his first appearance of the season, immediately heading for Johannesburg International Airport and a flight back to Port Elizabeth.

There was however, also good news for the Daewoo Motorsport team. Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson in the other Lanos, snatched an early lead at the end of stage three after a blistering time around the Gerotek facility. Kuun/Hodgson were two seconds ahead of six time South African Champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede, in the new Castrol Toyota Conquest.

The current championship leaders - they led reigning champs Jan Habig and Douglas Judd in the factory VW Golf by one point going into this event - were seven seconds ahead of the VW crew.

Fourth at this stage and 15 seconds behind Kuun/Hodgson were the Sasol Ford Escort crew of Paolo Piazza Musso and Nic Hadden . Behind them a good battle had developed for fifth place with only one second separating Team Total Toyota Conquest pair Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley and Class A7 championship leaders Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding in the GNT Technologies VW Golf.

BULLETIN THREE 14/8/98

KUUN/HODGSON IN THE NEW DAEWOO LANOS EARLY LEADERS IN THE STANNIC FLEET MANAGEMENT RALLY

The Gerotek Test facility to the West of Pretoria provided further problems today for front runners in the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, round six of the Stannic National Rally Championship, which started earlier in the day in Sandton.

After special stage three claimed a high power victim in 11 times SA Champion Sarel van der Merwe and Martin Botha, in the Daewoo Lanos, special stage four at the facility also saw the Sasol Ford Escort pair of Paolo Piazza Musso and Nic Hadden in trouble. A navigation error saw Piazza/Hadden emerge from the final control without having passed the flying finish. Although there was some confusion as to the official position early indications were that Piazza Musso/Hadden would be excluded from further participation in the event.

After four special stages the early leaders were Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson in the second factory Daewoo Lanos, with a four second advantage over six times SA Champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede in the Castrol Toyota Conquest. The former champions held a nine second advantage over reigning champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd in the factory VW Golf.

Prior to special stage four Piazza Musso/Hadden were in fourth place but their woes moved Class A7 championship leaders Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding in the GNT Technologies VW Golf, up a rung. Fifth at this stage were Team Total Toyota Conquest pair Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley who were 12 seconds behind van der Walt /Harding. A further eight seconds in areas were Class A6 leaders Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz in the Dunair Toyota Conquest, with the Pretoria pair holding an 11 second advantage over Team Total Toyota Conquest rivals Jean Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries.

BULLETIN FOUR 14/8/98

GOOD AND BAD FOR DAEWOO MOTORSPORT ON STANNIC FLEET MANAGEMENT RALLY

There was good and bad news for the Daewoo Motorsport Team on their return to action on the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, round six of the Stannic National Rally Championship, which started in Sandton today.

The good news was that Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson, in a Daewoo Lanos, were leading the rally after the six special stages that made up day one. The bad news was that 11 times South African champion Sarel van der Merwe and Martin Botha, in the second Lanos, were early casualties and departed from the scene on special stage three while in the lead.

At the end of a day that made rally history with the world's first indoor special stage on a national championship rally, Kuun and Hodgson were eight seconds ahead of six time South African champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede in the new Castrol Toyota Conquest kitcar. With Daewoo making their first appearance of the season, it was a highly encouraging start for the Korean manufacturer – despite the loss of Supervan and Botha who went out when the Daewoo sucked water into the engine at a waterspalsh.

Third at the overnight halt were reigning South African champions Jan Habig and Doug Judd in the factory VW Golf. They were 17 seconds behind Kuun and Hodgson and nine seconds behind Damseaux and Bonafede.

Damseaux and Bonafede went into the Stannic Fleet Management Rally with a slender one point lead over Habig/Judd in the championship, and the confrontation between the two crews tomorrow is going to be highly interesting. Kuun and Hodgson don't feature in the championship race, but they will be an irritant factor where Damseaux/Bonafede and Habig/Judd are concerned.

Fourth at the overnight halt were Class A7 championship leaders Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding in the GNT Technologies VW Golf. They were over a minute behind Habig and Judd and led a gaggle of six crews who were within 43 seconds of each other.

Van der Walt and Harding were nine seconds ahead of fifth placed Paolo Piazza-Musso and Nic Hadden, in the Sasol Ford Escort, who ran into a hiccup on special stage four. The pair got into a tangle with the route schedule, never passed the flying finish at the end of the stage and subsequently picked up a hefty penalty.

Piazza-Musso and Hadden were just two seconds ahead of Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley in the Team Total Toyota Conquest. Lourens and Paisley ran into the same problem as Piazza-Musso and Hadden at stage four – but quickly recovered and only dropped 10 seconds.

Behind Lourens and Paisley a terrific battle was developing between the two crews running at the front of the Class A6 championship. Only four seconds separated Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz, in the Dunair Toyota Conquest, and the Team Total Toyota Conquest pair of Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries. And, only four seconds behind Damseaux/Arries were Barry Grobbelaar and Mike Burrows in the Team Total VW Golf.

Ninth were the East Rand husband and wife crew of Ben and Isebel van der Westhuizen, in a VW Golf, who also led Class 20 which does not count towards the national championship. They were just three seconds ahead of Group N category leaders Hannes Grobler and Dave McGregor, in the Bridgestone Nissan Sentra, who were once again locked in battle with Cliff Blackman/Johan Klaasen, in the Team Total Nissan Sentra, and Cape crew Diffie Marais/Danie de Waal in the Tony's Radiators Toyota Corolla.

Grobler and McGregor had a cushion of 53 seconds but Blackman/Klaasen were only seven seconds ahead of Marais/de Waal. The two Nissan crews were running at the head of Class N3 with Marais and de Waal at the front of Class N2 with only 19 seconds between them and Schalk Burger/Thilo von Westernhagen in a Toyota Conquest and Dean Sanders/Graham Hooper in the Team Total Toyota Conquest.

The event restarts tomorrow morning at the AA Kyalami Grand Prix circuit and then heads towards the East Rand for a series of special stages in the Sentrarand, Nigel and Springs areas. The event ends back at the Expo Centre Nasrec – scene of the indoor special stage which drew a huge crowd – tomorrow afternoon.

BULLETIN FIVE 14/8/98

SPECIAL STAGE FOUR CANCELLED There was plenty of behind the scenes drama at the end of day one of the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, round six of the Stannic National Rally Championship, which started in Sandton yesterday.

The cancellation of special stage four at the Gerotek test facility near Pretoria West, threw last night's early provisional results out the window and there were one or two significant changes at the top of the leaderboard. Provisional overnight leaders Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson, in the Daewoo Lanos, were still at the top of the leaderboard after day one, but the cancellation of special stage four worked for Sasol Ford Escort crew Paolo Piazza-Musso and Nic Hadden and lifted them from fifth to second.

Piazza-Musso and Hadden were one of several crews who ran into route schedule problems on the Gerotek special stage, with the pair failing to go past the flying finish and record a stage time. The cancellation of the stage, however, and revised results put the Sasol Ford Escort pair only eight seconds behind Kuun and Hodgson.

Third, a further five seconds behind Piazza-Musso and Hadden, were reigning South African champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd in the factory VW Golf. Habig and Judd were only two seconds ahead of six time champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede, in the Castrol Toyota Conquest, with only 15 seconds separating the first four crews.

And, with just one point separating current leaders Damseaux/Bonafede and Habig/Judd in the championship, the scene was set for a classic confrontation between the pair during today's special stages at AA Kyalami, on the East Rand and at the Expo Centre at Nasrec. Kuun and Hodgson, with the Daewoo Motorsport Team making its first appearance of the season, are not factors in the overall championship but could run interference where the championship contenders are concerned.

The cancellation of special stage four also worked to the advantage of Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley, in the Team Total Toyota Conquest, who also ran into problems at Gerotek. They moved into fifth place ahead of Class A7 leaders Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding in the GNT Technologies VW Golf.

Lourens and Paisley were more than a minute behind Damseaux and Bonafede, but only had two seconds in hand over van der Walt and Harding. This also sets up an interesting confrontation with van der Walt and Harding the most consistent crew in the championship this season with five successive class wins.

There was also an interesting tussle brewing in Class A6 with just eight seconds between Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz, in the Dunair Toyota Conquest in seventh place, and eighth placed Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries in the Team Total Toyota Conquest. Damseaux is the son of Serge Damseaux with father and son both involved in hectic battles.

Behind the Fekken/Lewkowicz and Damseaux/Arries confrontation the scene was also set another huge battle. Ninth placed Ben and Isebel van der Westhuizen, in a VW Golf running Class S20, and Group N category leaders Hannes Grobler and Dave McGregor (Bridgestone Nissan Sentra) were level pegging.

For the fifth time in a row in this year's Stannic championship, Grobler and McGregor found themselves embroiled in a battle at the top of the Group N category with Natal crew Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen in the Team Total Nissan Sentra. With a 47 second lead overnight Grobler and McGregor held the early advantage, but will have their work cut out to maintain the gap today.

For the Daewoo team day one on an event that created a little world rally history was a case of the good and the bad. The good news was the performance of Kuun and Hodgson, with the bad news the early demise of 11 times South African champion Sarel van der Merwe and Martin Botha in the second Daewoo Lanos.

Supervan and Botha went out on stage three, also at Gerotek, when water was sucked into the Daewoo's engine at a deep watersplash. A disgruntled van der Merwe, leading the rally at the time, walked out the stage and immediately left for Johannesburg International and a flight back to Port Elizabeth.

The last of the six special stages at the Expo Centre at Nasrec created a little world history. It was the first time an indoor special stage had been held on a national championship rally, with the innovation drawing a large and highly enthusiastic crowd.

Two other innovative concepts will round off the event back at the Expo Centre later this afternoon. A Super Special Stage - with two cars competing against each other at the same time on a mirror course - and a 'Dash for Cash' stage will be run over courses laid out in the giant Hall 5 and surrounding access roads.

BULLETIN SIX 15/8/98

PIAZZA-MUSSO/HADDEN LEAD STANNIC FLEET MANAGEMENT RALLY

There were some significant early changes on day two of the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, round six of the Stannic National Rally Championship, which restarted at AA Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in Midrand this morning.

With overnight leaders Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson in the Daewoo Lanos running into problems on special stage nine - the third stage of day - Sasol Ford Escort crew Paolo Piazza Musso and Nic Hadden moved into the lead. At the end of special stage 11 Piazza Musso/Hadden had built up a 26 second lead over six times South African Champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede in the new Castrol Toyota Conquest.

Third at this stage another 13 seconds in areas were reigning South African Champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd in the factory Golf. Habig/Judd were nearly two minutes ahead of Kuun/Hodgson with the sideshaft problem that hit the Daewoo Lanos in special stage nine dropping the pair down to fourth place.

Fifth at this stage were Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding in the GNT Technologies VW Golf with the pair trailing Kuun/Hodgson by over 90 seconds. Next up in provisional scoring were Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz in the Dunair Toyota Conquest who were gradually pulling away from Jean Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries in the Team Total Toyota Conquest, in the battle in Class A6. Sandwiched between the two Toyotas were Ben and Isebel van der Westhuizen, in a VW Golf, who were running at the front of Class S20.

Ninth overall and leading the Group N category were Hannes Grobler and Dave McGregor in the Bridgestone Nissan Sentra who were gradually pulling away from Team Total Nissan Sentra pair Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen. The major casualty of the morning was the Team Total Toyota Conquest of Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley which went out on special stage eight with a broken sideshaft.

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Series Other rally
Drivers Sarel van der Merwe