NEW STAGES FOR GODRICH TOYOTA RALLY

The Godrich Toyota Rally on August 22, a round of the Stannic Northern Regions Rally Championship, will take Gauteng rally crews into new territory.

Organised by the Pretoria Motor Club the 300 kilometre route planned by route director Greg Godrich will take in new roads in the Delmas and Bronkhorstspruit areas. Special stage distance of just over 100 kilometres will provide for some high speed rallying with good spectator vantage points for rally enthusiasts.

"The roads are fantastic and we are running the event to strict Stannic National Rally Championship standards," said clerk of the course John Ogden. "Radio controls will operate at the start and finish of every special stage and a great deal of attention has been paid to detail.

"With the good state of the roads there should be some quick and highly competitive rallying." The longest of the 10 special stages is 26 kilometres, with the shortest a 2,6 kilometre spectator stage in Bronkhorstspruit. There will also be a service and refuel halt at the Kaia Manzi Bronkhorstspruit Dam, giving enthusiasts a chance to meet the crews.

The Godrich Toyota Rally will start at Godrich Toyota in Bronkhorstspruit at 09h00 with Mayor Hosiah Nchabaleng flagging the cars away. Rally headquarters will be at Godrich Toyota with the first cars expected back in Bronkhorstspruit for the final special stage at approximately 16h00.

Spectator route guides will be available at Godrich Toyota and anyone requiring further information should contact Greg Godrich at 013 9320164 or Alton Berns at 012 3443160.

STANNIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP DELICATELY POISED

A scoring system which dictates that competitors must at the end of the season drop one result out of eight events, has left the Stannic National Rally Championship delicately poised.

With two events left to run following the Stannic Fleet Management Rally over the weekend, the championship is still a three horse race. Locked in battle at the top of the drivers and co-drivers logs are VW Golf factory crew Jan Habig and Doug Judd and Castrol Toyota Conquest works pair Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede - with Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding clinging to outsider status in the betting.

Prior to the Stannic Fleet Management Rally six time champions Damseaux and Bonafede, with 143 points, held a one point lead over reigning champions Habig and Judd. A further 16 points behind the VW Golf works crew were van der Walt and Harding, in the GNT Technologies VW Golf, with 126 points.

With both Damseaux/Bonafede and van der Walt/Harding failing to score points on the Stannic Fleet management Rally, Habig and Judd moved into the lead in the championship. The VW Golf crew picked up 27 points for second place behind winners Paolo Piazza-Musso and Nic Hadden in the Sasol Ford Escort.

This turned a one point deficit into a 26 point lead for the reigning champions. Having to drop one score, however, alters the position.

The Damseaux/Bonafede and van der Walt/Harding combinations are able to drop "no returns" from their overall tallies. This means Damseaux and Bonafede remain on 142 points and van der Walt and Harding, after five successive class wins this season, stay on 142 points.

Habig and Judd, however, have to drop their worst score so far, a fourth place and 20 points, on the Stannic Tour Natal at the start of the season. That leaves them with a total of 149 points - just six ahead of Damseaux and Bonafede.

"The championship is still wide open and the last two events of the season are going to be highly interesting," said Motorsport SA National Rally Commission president Bernie Marriner. "The pressure is on Habig/Judd and Damseaux/Bonafede and van der Walt and Harding could still sneak in through the back door.

"The law of averages finally caught up with van der Walt and Harding on the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, but the bottom line is that none of the three crews can afford another no points haul in the remaining events. It looks as though we are in for a crackerjack finish to the season."

The penultimate event of the year will be the Agip Rally in the Western Cape on September 18 and 19. This will be followed by the PMC Rally on October 16 and 17.

CLEAN SWEEP FOR NORTHERN REGIONS TEAMS

Northern Regions crews made a clean sweep of overall victory and all the classes on the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, round six of the Stannic National Rally Championship, on August 14 and 15.

Overall victory and honours in Class A8 went to Randburg driver Paolo Piazza-Musso and Cape navigator Nic Hadden in the Sasol Ford Escort. For Piazza-Musso and Hadden it was their first win of the season, and lifted them to eight place on the national drivers and co-drivers championships.

In Class A7 there was an unexpected win for Johannesburg crew John Brewin and Terry Porter in the Opel Kadett Superboss. Brewin and Porter were 17th overall, but the demise of championship front runners Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding and the Pretoria crew Barry Grobbelaar and Mike Burrows, in the Team Total VW Golf, saw Brewin/Porter pick up a rare success.

Pretoria crew Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz, in the Dunair Toyota Conquest, continued their good form this season and were fourth overall and Class A6 winners. Fekken and Lewkowicz stay at the top of the Class A6 championship, and are fourth overall in the drivers and co-drivers standings.

Former South African champion Hannes Grobler and Dave McGregor, in the Bridgestone Nissan Sentra, bounced back from a non finish in the previous round to win the Group N category and Class N3. Grobler and McGregor now lead the Group N championship by one point from Natal crew Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen in the Team Total Nissan Sentra.

Class N2 honours, and 11th overall, went to veteran Schalk Burger and Thilo von Westernhagen in the Godrich Toyota Conquest, with Pretoria pair Rodney Visagie and Chris Olsen (Toyota Conquest) taking Class N1.

The Northern Regions clean sweep was completed by the East Rand husband and wife team of Ben and Isebel van der Westhuizen. The Stannic Northern Regions Rally Championship leaders were fifth overall and won Class S20 in their VW Golf.

Class S20, however, does not score towards the national championship. It was, however, a tremendous performance from the van der Westhuizen's and but for punctures on successive special stages on day two, could have challenged Fekken/Lewkowicz for fourth place overall.

KZN CREWS COME OFF SECOND BEST

It was a case of second best for KwaZulu-Natal crews on the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, round six of the Stannic National Rally Championship, on August 14 and 15.

Reigning South African champions Jan Habig and Doug Judd, in the factory VW Golf, were second overall and second in Class A8 to eventual winners Paolo Piazza-Musso and Nic Hadden in the Sasol Ford Escort. Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen, in the Team Total Nissan Sentra, were second overall in the Group N category and second in Class N3, with Dean Sanders and Graham Hooper, in the Team Total Toyota Conquest, second in Class N2.

There was better news for Habig and Judd, however, with the pair moving to the top of the drivers and co-drivers championships. On paper the VW Golf works pair have a 26 point lead over six time champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede in the Castrol Toyota Conquest - who were among the non-finishers on the Stannic Fleet Management Rally.

All crews, however, have to drop one event in the championship with Habig and Judd having to, at this stage, drop a 20 point haul for fourth place on the Stannic Tour Natal. That gives them an effective six point lead over Damseaux and Bonafede with just two events remaining in the championship.

Class A6 front runners Craig Trott and Brian Duncan, in the Team Total Toyota Conquest, maintained their 100 percent finish record this season, but lost a thrilling battle with Eastern Cape pair Dolf Coetzee and Eddie van der Merwe, in a Mark 1 Toyota Conquest, in Class A6. Trott and Duncan were pipped by just four seconds, and had to content with ninth overall and fourth in class.

For another KwaZulu-Natal crew, Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley, a miserable run of late continued. They retired their Team Total Toyota Conquest on Special stage eight with a broken sideshaft.

Also among the non-finishers were Eugene Lourens, brother of Etienne, and Wayne Westermeyer who dropped out on special stage nine when their Nissan Sentra blew its motor. Natal champion Tony Ball and Alec Harris, in the Bulwer Park VW Golf, were among the early retirements and went out on special stage four on day one.

OVERALL WIN FOR CAPETONIAN NIC HADDEN

Western Cape crews had to endure the good and the not so good on the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, round six of the Stannic National Rally Championship, on August 14 and 15. The good news saw Cape Town navigator Nic Hadden, partnering Johannesburg driver Paolo Piazza-Musso, take overall honours in the Sasol Ford Escort. There were also good performances from Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson (Daewoo Lanos), Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries (Team Total Toyota Conquest) and Richard Behm/Johan Barnard in the Palbin Opel Corsa.

Kuun and Hodgson led overnight in the new factory Daewoo Lanos, but a broken sideshaft early on day two put an end to their hopes of a stunning debut win for the Daewoo Lanos. Damseaux and Arries were sixth overall and second in Class A6, while Behm/Barnard were 20th overall and third in Class N2 with both crews having steady runs.

On the debit side Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede, in the new Castrol Toyota Conquest, chalked up their first non-finish of the season and lost the lead in the drivers and co-drivers championships. Taking into account the one event which all crews must drop at the end of the season, Damseaux and Bonafede now trail reigning champions Jan Habig and Doug Judd, in the factory VW Golf, by six points.

There was also bad news for Cindi Harding who, along with Tjaart van der Walt, was looking for a sixth successive Class A7 win in the GNT Technologies VW Golf. Lying third in the overall championship the pair broke sideshafts in successive stages on day two and finished out of the points.

Pierre Goosen and Eugene Blanche finished 13th overall and fifth in Class A6 in their VW Golf, but also among the retirements were Group N category and Class N2 front runners Diffie Marais and Danie de Waal. They retired the Tony's Radiators Toyota Corolla with a blown motor on special stage 11.

LITTLE CHEER FOR EASTERN CAPE CREWS

Eastern Cape crews - including 11 time South African champion Sarel van der Merwe - did not have much to cheer about on the Stannic Fleet Management Rally, round six of the Stannic National Rally Championship, on August 14 and 15.

Van der Merwe and co-driver Martin Botha, in the new factory Daewoo Lanos, were among the early retirements. The pair were leading the rally after two special stages, but went out on stage three when water was sucked into the motor at a water splash.

A disgruntled Supervan walked out of the special stage with a cellular phone glued to his ear. He was busy booking an early flight home to Port Elizabeth and headed straight for Johannesburg International Airport.

Van der Merwe was later joined in the retirement stakes by Gys Kleyn and Caroline Cimma in the Team Total VW Golf, and Adrian Karth and Marike Grobler in another VW Golf. The Klein/Cimma combination went out on special stage 16 with a blown motor, with Karth/Grobler out after gearbox failure on stage 12.

There was better news for Dolf Coetzee and Eddie van der Merwe in an aging Mark 1 Toyota Conquest. A tremendous drive saw the pair come home eighth overall and third in Class A6 - this after a tremendous battle with Team Total crew Craig Trott and Brian Duncan.

After 17 of the 19 special stages Coetzee and van der Merwe were only two seconds behind Trott and Duncan. They then picked up six seconds on the Team Total pair over the last two stages to edge home by only four seconds.