DAMSEAUX/HODGSON WIN VOLKSWAGEN MILLENIUM RALLY Colin Windell Port Elizabeth, Saturday - Dealer Team Toyota pair Serge Damseaux and Guy Hodgson ventured into enemy territory and emerged victorious when they won the Volkswagen Millenium Rally,...
DAMSEAUX/HODGSON WIN VOLKSWAGEN MILLENIUM RALLY
Port Elizabeth, Saturday - Dealer Team Toyota pair Serge Damseaux and Guy Hodgson ventured into enemy territory and emerged victorious when they won the Volkswagen Millenium Rally, round five of the MSA South African National Rally Championship, which ended here today.
For Damseaux and Hodgson it was their second win of the season, and one which dashed Volkswagen hopes of a third straight victory on their own rally. Volkswagen crew and reigning SA champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd, in the works Sasol VW Golf 4, looked set to provide the Uitenhage manufacturer with a hat-trick of wins but there was late drama when the pair retired on the penultimate special stage with a blown engine.
Problems started for Habig and Judd when they lost three minutes to Damseaux and Hodgson on special stage 12, and another 17 seconds on special stage 13. Clearly something was amiss with the Sasol VW Golf, and this was confirmed when the pair finally withdrew on the next special stage.
That handed Damseaux and Hodgson victory on a plate, with Toyota's cup running over with Team Total Toyota Corolla crew Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley finishing second. It was the second time this season that the Class A6 Toyotas upstaged the Class A8 and Class A7 entries with a one-two result.
Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding, in another Sasol VW Golf running in Class A8, salvaged some pride for Volkswagen by finishing third. They were around five minutes ahead of Hannes Grobler and Brian Duncan, in the Total Bridgestone Nissan Sentra, who again dominated the Group N category and Class N3.
Class A7 also went to Volkswagen via KwaZulu-Natal crew Tony Ball and Marti Olivier, in the Bulwer Park VW, who moved into the lead following the retirement of Nissan Sentra crew Johnny Gemmell and Erroll Finniss who retired on stage 12. Toyota, however, picked up two more class wins via reigning champions Dean Sanders and Graham Hooper in Class N2 in the Team Total Toyota Tazz, and reigning champions Rodney Visagie and Carolyn Swan in Class N1 in the Team Total Toyota Tazz.
Victory, however, was not enough to take Damseaux and Hodgson to the top of the championship log. They went into the event trailing Lourens and Paisley by 11 points and are still five points behind the KwaZulu-Natal crew with, Habig and Judd slipping to fourth place behind Sanders and Hooper.
On a day loaded with drama Damseaux and Hodgson started the day in third place after the cancellation of special stage two on day one dropped them behind Habig/Judd and Lourens/Paisley. The Dealer Team Toyota pair went on a charge and whittled away at the Lourens/Paisley lead and then moved into second place when the Team Total crew ran into an electrical problem on special stage 11.
Then cracks started appearing in the VW defences, and Toyota's triumph was sealed when Habig and Judd finally retired from the event. Behind the frontrunners, however, there was also plenty of action.
Gemmell and Finniss were running as high as fifth and dominating Class A7 when mechanical problems put them out. That elevated Ball and Olivier, running around three minutes behind the Nissan crew, into the Class A7 lead ahead of Keith Coleman and Uwe Koch in the Sasol VW Golf.
After a day one setback Ball and Olivier fought back to ninth overall behind Kobus Roos/Niel Fourie, in the SAlive.com Toyota Corolla, and KwaZulu-Natalians Craig Trott and Gerhard Bezuidenhout in a Toyota Conquest. Another Toyota crew, Chris de Witt and Shane Saville, in a Toyota Conquest, completed the top 10 and gave Toyota seven finishers in the top 10.
While Grobler and Duncan were one their way to another top five finish and running away with Class N3, a terrific Class N2 battle was going on between Cape crew Stephan van Dyk and Mark Pym, in a Toyota Corolla, and Sanders/Hooper. After stage 11 only four seconds separated the two teams, but in stage 12 van Dyk and Pym rolled with the rally held up while the pair received medical attention.
Down in Class N1, however, there were no problems for Visagie and Swan. The reigning champions took control on day one with the retirement of Opel Kadett pair Schalk Burger and Thilo von Westernhagen, and Visagie/Swan finished comfortably ahead of Mike Houghton and Brendan Nunan in the Toy Toy Spares Toyota Tazz.
1 S Damseaux/G Hodgson (Dealer Team Toyota Corolla) 02:05:38; 2 E Lourens/R Paisley (Team Total Toyota Corolla) 02:07:03; 3 T van der Walt/C Harding (Sasol VW Golf) 02:07:17; 4 H Grobler/B Duncan (Total Bridgestone Nissan Sentra) 02:12:32; 5 J-P Damseaux/J Klaasen (Team Total Toyota Corolla) 02:12:39; 6 D Sanders/G Hooper (Team Total Toyota Corolla) 02:13:48; 7 K Roos/N Fourie (SAlive.com Toyota Corolla) 02:15:09; 8 C Trott/G Bezuidenhout (Toyota Conquest) 02:16:05; 9 T Ball/M Olivier (Bulwer Park VW Golf) 02:16:09; 10 C de Witt/M Saville (Toyota Conquest) 02:16:49.
Class A8 - T van der Walt/C Harding (Sasol VW Golf); Class A7 - T Ball/M Olivier (Bulwer Park VW Golf); Class A6 - S Damseaux/G Hodgson (Dealer Team Toyota Corolla); Class N3 - H Grobler/B Duncan (Total Bridgestone Nissan Sentra); Class N2 - D Sanders/G Hooper (Team Total Toyota Corolla); Class N1 - R Visagie/C Swan/Team Total Toyota Tazz).