Agip #4

AGIP RALLY - BULLETIN 4 18/9/98 HABIG/JUDD TAKE CHARGE OF AGIP RALLY ON DAY ONE Reigning South African champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd took the bull by the horns today to dominate the opening day of the Agip Rally, penultimate round...



Reigning South African champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd took the bull by the horns today to dominate the opening day of the Agip Rally, penultimate round of the Stannic National Rally Championship, which started on the Cape Town Waterfront.

At the end of the first leg of the rally Habig and Judd, in the works VW Golf, held a lead of 31 seconds, after only 40 kilometres of special stage distance, to put themselves in a powerful position. With an effective lead of only six points over six times champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede in the championship - all crews have to drop one event at the end of the season - Habig and Judd scored an early psychological blow on what could be a make or break event for the leading title contenders.

Behind Habig and Judd there was something of a logjam with only 13 seconds between the next four cars. One second separated Damseaux/Bonafede and 11 time champion Sarel van der Merwe and Martin Botha in the factory Daewoo Lanos.

Fourth, eight seconds behind van der Merwe/Botha, were the second Lanos factory crew of Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson, and four seconds behind them were Team Total Toyota Conquest crew Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley. A little brain fade late in the day - they clocked into the final control a minute late and picked up a 10 second penalty - dropped Kuun and Hodgson from second to fourth.

At the end of special stage two , with the frontrunners setting a cracking pace from the outset, Damseaux/Bonafede and the Habig/Judd and van der Merwe/Botha combinations were separated by only one second. Over the next two special stages, however, Habig and Judd took matters by the scruff of the neck.

On special stage three the VW Golf crew took seven seconds of Damseaux and Bonafede and 13 seconds off van der Merwe and Botha. The stage also saw the demise of Stannic Fleet Management Rally winners Paolo Piazza-Musso and Nic Hadden in the Sasol Ford Escort.

The pair were running a solid fourth when they stopped five kilometres into the longest special stage of the day. A steering problem consigned them to a spectator's role - but Habig and Judd were not yet finished.

The margin between the reigning champions and the other top contenders was even bigger in special stage four. Habig and Judd took 11 seconds off Kuun and Hodgson, 15 seconds off van der Merwe and Botha in the second Daewoo Lanos and 27 seconds off Damseaux and Bonafede with the Castrol Toyota pair running into problems.

The Castrol Toyota arrived at the end of the stage with radiator coolant pouring from the bottom of the car, with overheating problems plaguing the pair throughout the day. At this stage things were looking a little grim for the Toyota pair who need - at the very least - to finish ahead of Habig and Judd.

Sixth at the overnight halt were Class A6 leaders Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz, in the Dunair Toyota Conquest, with the pair 13 seconds clear of Class A7 leaders Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding in the 7 Eleven VW Golf. Van der Walt and Harding are the only crew to so far this season wrap up a national title.

Local crew Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries, in the Team Total Toyota Conquest, were part of this battle until a rush of blood dropped them down the field. An off-road excursion on stage four cost the pair more than three minutes and dropped them to 15th overnight.

The Group N category and Class N3 was again being led by Hannes Grobler and Dave McGregor, in the Bridgestone Nissan Sentra, with the experienced pair eight overall. Grobler and McGregor were only three seconds behind van der Walt and Harding - but were only one second clear of Keith Coleman and Uwe Koch who were ninth overall and second in Class A7.

The top 10 was completed by Callie van der Merwe and Andre Vermeulen in the ageing Nissan Skyline running in Class S20 which does not count towards the national championship. Right behind them were Group N runners Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen, in the Team Total Nissan Sentra, and Dean Sanders and Graham Hooper in a Teal Total Toyota Conquest.

Blackman and Claasen were running second to Grobler/McGregor in Class N3 with Sanders/Hooper leading Class N2 from veterans Schalk Burger and Thilo von Westernhagen in the Godrich Toyota Conquest. Also involved in this battle were Cape crew Diffie Marais and Danie de Waal (Tony's Radiators Toyota Corolla) who rolled during stage three and lost valuable time.

Allen Worms and Ashley Gericke were running at the front of Class N1 in the Opel Corsa, with a healthy lead over Toyota Conquest pair Rodney Visagie and Chris Olsen.

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Series Other rally
Drivers Sarel van der Merwe