Route planning for the Stannic Tour Natal on March 12 and 13, opening round of the Stannic Rally Championship, is almost complete. The Stannic Tour Natal will get the season off to its now traditional KwaZulu-Natal start with the organisers,...
Route planning for the Stannic Tour Natal on March 12 and 13, opening round of the Stannic Rally Championship, is almost complete.
The Stannic Tour Natal will get the season off to its now traditional KwaZulu-Natal start with the organisers, the Natal Motorcycle and Car Club, again having at their disposal some of the best rally roads in the country. With a route that takes in spectator stages, forest sections and sugarcane field territory competitors are in for a varied set of road conditions.
"We are busy putting the finishing touches to the route, and are more than happy with what we have come up with," said route director Jimmy Dewar. "We have not encountered any problems and so far it has been plain sailing."
A little spice is also added to the start of the season by the recent Motorsport SA appeal court decision that handed the 1998 championship to Castrol Toyota pair Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede, who has subsequently retired from the sport. The appeal court decision robbed VW pair Jannie Habig and Douglas Judd of back to back championships, and it is unlikely that there will be any love lost between the two camps this season.
With Bonafede in retirement Damseaux will now be partnered by experienced Guy Hodgson. Natalian Habig again teams up this season with co-driver Douglas Judd.
The Stannic Tour Natal will start in Pietermaritzburg with the opening day made up of seven special stages with a total stage distance of 78 kilometres. The stages include two spectator stages at Alexandra Park in the heart of the last outpost of the British Empire and three in Sappi and Mondi forests.
Natal forest stages are always a test for crews who will quickly be thrown into the deep end at the start of the new season. Day one ends in Umhlanga Rocks with another spectator stage, and by the time crews reach the popular holiday resort the battle lines will have been drawn.
Day two opens with two sugar cane special stages and, after a brief return to the forests for one special stage, the rest of the day will be spent in Illovo sugar cane fields before the final spectator special stage back in Umhlanga.
Total special stage distance on day two is 173 kilometres with a combined distance for the two days of 251 kilometres. The combination of tar special stages, forests and cane fields provides for an interesting mix and the Stannic Tour Natal looks as though it will again be run at a fast pace.
"All the roads we will be utlising are in good condition and there will be late work carried out on them to provide the best possible surfaces," said Dewar. "We have had terrific co-operation from Mondi, Sappi and Illovo and the interesting mix of forest and canefield stages is going to provide competitors with a really stern challenge.
"The weather could play a late role but on that score but we will just have to wait and see what happens."
The first car will leave the start at Alexandra Park on March 12 at 12h 30.
The second spectator stage at Alexandra Park - the penultimate stage of the day - is scheduled to start at 18h00 and the spectator stage at Umhlanga Rocks at 20h00.
Day two gets off to an early 07h00 start in Umhlanga with a tough grind ahead of crews before they head back to the holiday playground late in the day. The final spectator special stage is scheduled to start at 17h00 with a parc ferme in operation before the start of the stage.