DAMSEAUX / BONAFEDE TOP STANNIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP LOG Victory in the recent Sasol Rally, round four of the Stannic National Rally Championship, has given Castrol Toyota crew Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede a little breathing space at the top...
DAMSEAUX / BONAFEDE TOP STANNIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP LOG
Victory in the recent Sasol Rally, round four of the Stannic National Rally Championship, has given Castrol Toyota crew Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede a little breathing space at the top of the drivers and co-drivers championships.
The six time former champions went into the Sasol Rally with a 14 point lead over reigning South African champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd in the factory VW Golf. Damseaux and Bonafede picked up seven points on Habig and Judd, who were second on the Sasol, to open the gap to 21 points.
Between them the Damseaux/Bonafede and Habig/Judd combinations have won every round of the Stannic National Rally Championship so far. The Castrol Toyota pair won the Stannic FML 40th Tour Natal, the Stannic Asset Finance Rally in the Western Cape and the Sasol Rally, with Habig and Judd comfortable winners of the Stannic Rally of South Africa.
"Every point is an important one at this stage of the season, and the Sasol win was a welcome boost for us after the Stannic Rally of South Africa," said Damseaux. "We have a little breathing space but there is still a long way to go, and this is going to be a tough championship to win," said Damseaux.
"I said at the start of the season that consistency is going to be the key this year, and that still holds true."
Still very much in contention, however, are Pretoria driver Tjaart van der Walt and Cape Town co-driver Cindi Harding in the Rieks Towing VW Golf. The pair have been the most consistent performers in the national championship over the last couple of seasons, and this has again paid dividends this season.
Van der Walt and Harding have finished second in the drivers and co-drivers championships three times since 1993, and could go one better this season. The pair are only 12 points behind Habig and Judd and are well clear in the Class A7 championship.
Fourth in the championship are Pretoria crew Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz, in the Dunair Toyota Conquest, who also top Class A6 by a comfortable margin. Fine performances on the Stannic Rally of South Africa and the Sasol Rally, rocketed Fekken and Lewkowicz up the leaderboard although a non finish on the Stannic Asset Finance Rally hurt them.
Three tremendous performances in a row have moved former South African rally and off-road champion Hannes Grobler and Dave McGregor into fifth in the drivers and co-drivers championships. The Bridgestone Nissan Sentra pair have won the Group N category in all three events in which they have competed this season, and also top Class N3.
Grobler/McGregor are only six points behind Fekken/Lewkowicz, and other Group N competitors feature prominently in the top 10 in both the drivers and co-drivers championships. Right behind arch rivals Grobler and McGregor are Natalians Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen in the Team Total Nissan Sentra.
Young Cape driver Richard Behm is ninth in the drivers championship with experienced Cape co-driver Danie de Waal 10th among the co-drivers. Behm, who campaigns a privately entered Palbin Opel Corsa in Class N2, is in his first season of national championship rallying.
Apart from the Class N3 category where Grobler and McGregor have a comfortable lead over Blackman and Klaasen, some tight battles have developed in the other classes. Only three points separate Behm and Goodwood Auto Electrical Toyota Corolla driver Diffie Marais in the Class N2 drivers championship.
Among the Class N2 co-drivers five points are the difference between de Waal, who sits alongside Marais, and Thilo von Westernhagen who partners Schalk Burger in the Godrich Toyota Conquest.
Pretoria crew Allen Worms and Ashley Gericke still lead Class N1 in the Lessan Engineering Opel Corsa. The gap between them and Richard Visagie and Chris Olsen has, however, been narrowed to just five points.