by: Colin Windell A total of 49 cars came under starters orders at the Civic Centre in Cape Town this morning at the start of the Total Rally of South Africa. Six international entries from Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia were among ...
by: Colin Windell
A total of 49 cars came under starters orders at the Civic Centre in Cape Town this morning at the start of the Total Rally of South Africa.
Six international entries from Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia were among the entries for what is round three of the South African Rally Champiionship, and round two of the FIA African Rally Championship. The opening section of the rally, made up of seven special stages, will end back at the Civic Centre at around 21:30 this evening with the second section starting at 06h15 tomorrow morning.
Today's route, with the N2 the "spinal cord" of the event, will take competitors into the Grabouw, Botrivier and Caledon areas. Crews will cover 123 kilometres of special stage distance.
Topping the overseas entries are the Suabru Imprezza of former FIA African Rally Champion Satwant Singh and Mtumbi Goma, from Zibabwe, and the Toyota Celica GT4 of Ugandan driver Emmanuel Kato and his Kenyan co-driver Peter Stone. There was, however, a pre-event scare for Katto and Stone.
The Toyota Celica suffered slight damage when it broke loose from its moorings while being airfreighted to Cape Town. The car sustained bodywork damage but there was no danger of the crew not being able to start the event.
The South African challenge is being led by reigning South African champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd, in the factory Sasol VW Golf 4, who currently lead this year's national championship. After two wins in a row Habig and Judd will be looking for a hat-tick of victories to cement their hold on this year's national series.
The biggest challenge for Habig/Judd is likely to come from local crew Serge Damseaux and Guy Hodgson in the Dealer Team Toyota Corolla. Seven-time SA champion Damseaux has twice finished second to Habig/Judd this season, but on home turf could provide for an upset.
Habig and Judd are one of a handful of South African crews with cars homologated for the FIA African Rally Championship, and this makes them eligible to score points towards the championship. The other eligible SA crews are Ben and Isebel van der Westhuizen, in a VW Golf TDi entered by the Zimbabwean Team Africa squad, Schalk Burger and Martin Botha in a Subaru Imprezza and Dean Sanders/Graham Hooper and Kobus Roos/Niel Fourie in Toyota Corolla RSi entries.
One of the late withdrawals from the event were former Class A6 champions Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz. The pair are running without sponsorship this season, and could not afford to make the trip to the Cape.
South African Champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd in the Sasol VW Golf 4 where quick to make their intentions clear on the Total Rally of South Africa which started in Cape Town this morning.
The event is round three of the South African National Rally Championship and round two of the FIA African Rally Championship, with Habig/Judd getting off to a flying start in the opening special stage near Grabouw. The Sasol Golf pair were 25 seconds quicker than seven time champion Serge Damseaux and Guy Hodgson in the Dealer Team Toyota Corolla. A further 13 seconds behind Damseaux/Hodgson were the Team Total Toyota Corolla pair of Ettienne Lourens and Robert Paisley.
Fourth fastest, just one second behind Lourens and Paisley, were Ugandan Emmanuel Katto and Kenyan co-driver Peter Stone in the Toyota Celica GT4. Makng up the first five at this early stage were Paolo Piazza-Musso and Nic Hadden who were nine seconds down on Katto and Stone and 48 seconds behind leaders Habig/Judd.
The first crew to run into problems were Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding in the Sasol VW Golf with the pair struggling through the last three kilometres of the stage with no fan belt. The pair put up a respectable stage time but where likely to loose time at the service park.