1999 STANNIC NATIONAL RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP DATES
In a season that places an emphasis on South Africa being admitted to the FIA World Rally Championship fold within three years, the calendar for the 1999 Stannic National Rally Championship has been finalised - with proceedings opening with the now traditional Stannic Tour Natal in KwaZulu Natal on March 12 and 13.
Rally Management CC, which owns the rights to the South African Rally Championship, has embarked on an ambitious plan aimed at winning South Africa a berth on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar, and this year's national itinerary includes a pilot event that forms part of the Project: WRC initiative. The pilot event will be held in the Western Cape, and was part of a reshuffle that led to delays in announcing the full schedule of Stannic National Rally Championship events this season.
"The Project: WRC masterplan only surfaced towards the end of November last year, and forced us to rethink this year's national calendar," said Rally Management CC executive Charmaine Fortune. "We have worked closely with Motorsport SA in reshuffling the calendar and everything is now in place in this respect.
"The Project: WRC plan has added a new dimension to rallying in this country, and we have ahead of us a season that is likely to be a watershed for years to come. We intend to pursue our theme of bringing rallying to the people, with the Project: WRC pilot event at the end of the year a focal point."
The Stannic Tour Natal on March 12 and 13 will be followed by the Stannic Cape Rally in the Western Cape on April 16 and 17. The championship will move inland for the first time with the Rally of South Africa from May 13 to 15 with the event following the traditional South Africa/Swaziland format.
The Sasol Rally in Mpumulanga on June 18 and 19 will be followed by the Volkswagen Rally in the Eastern Cape on July 16 and 17 and the Stannic Gauteng Rally on August 14 and 15. The Stannic Gauteng Rally will break new ground in the province by being run on a Saturday and Sunday.
The Stannic Great North Rally will be run in the Northern Province on September 17 and 18, and will be followed by the Project: WRC Rally in the Western Cape from October 22 to 24. This will also finish on a Sunday and in what is going to be a busy year for the rally fraternity, the calendar provides for a rally a month format from March through to October.
"While it is going to be a busy year for rallying, it is also going to be a season that promises much for the future," Fortune said. "We have a committed sponsor in Stannic, and the ongoing support from Sasol and Volkswagen is indicative of the solid base that has been re-established over the last two years.
"Rally Management and the Motorsport SA National Rally Commission will also continue to work closely with manufacturers and competitors, and the big carrot ahead of us is the possibility that South Africa will win a place on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar within the targeted three years."
The 1999 Stannic National Rally Championship calendar is:
March 12 -13 - Stannic Tour Natal; April 16 -17 - Stannic Cape Rally; May 13 -15 - Rally of South Africa; June 18 -19 - Sasol Rally; July 16 -17 - Volkswagen Rally; August 14 -15 - Stannic Gauteng Rally; September 17-18 - Stannic Great North Rally; October 22 -24 - Project: WRC Rally.