AGIP RALLY - BULLETIN FINAL DRAMA APLENTY AS KUUN/HODGSON WIN AGIP RALLY There was drama and controversy as Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson scored an upset win in the Agip Rally, penultimate round of the Stannic National Rally Championship, which...
AGIP RALLY - BULLETIN FINAL
DRAMA APLENTY AS KUUN/HODGSON WIN AGIP RALLY
There was drama and controversy as Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson scored an upset win in the Agip Rally, penultimate round of the Stannic National Rally Championship, which ended on Cape Town's Waterfront today.
Kuun and Hodgson brought the factory Daewoo Lanos home a minute and 23 seconds ahead of Team Total Toyota Conquest pair Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley, to give the Korean team victory in only their second outing of the season. Third were Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz, in the Dunair Toyota Conquest, who wrapped up the Class A6 championship.
Another fine performance took Hannes Grobler and Dave McGregor, in the Bridgestone Nissan Sentra, into fourth place and another win in the Group N category. Class A7 champions Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding, in the 7 Eleven VW Golf, completed the top five.
The Kuun/Hodgson recovery, fine performances from Fekken/Lewkowicz, Grobler McGregor and Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries - who fought back to sixth from 26th overnight - were overshadowed by the late controversy. It all centered around a chain of events involving South African champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd.
Habig and Judd were in a commanding lead when they ran into problems on Special Stage 12 and lost 12 minutes. The pair hit a rock with the factory VW Golf losing a wheel - but controversy reared its head when the pair emerged from the stage with co-driver Judd in the passenger compartment, where he did not have luxury of a safety harness, to balance out the three-wheel Golf.
This, along with the fact that the pair apparently completed part of the stage without wearing their helmets, incurred the disfavour of rally officials who announced that Habig and Judd had been excluded from the event. Habig and Judd, who eventually finished 13th, refused to accept the decision and protested against their exclusion.
The issue was further clouded by the championship position. All competitors must drop one result out of the eight that make up the championship, and Habig and Judd went into the event with an effective six point lead over Castrol Toyota pair Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede.
Damseaux and Bonafede dropped out with a blown engine and can drop one of two non finishes this season from the results. The regulations stipulate, however, that competitors cannot drop a result where they are excluded from an event - and at stake for Habig and Judd are eight points for 13th place.
It was a little ironic that earlier in the day Kuun and Hodgson themselves lost a wheel. The suspension on the Daewoo Lanos collapsed as they emerged from Special Stage nine, but good work from technical crew saw them back on the road and they gradually hauled in Lourens and Paisley who towards the end were nursing a sick motor.
Fekken and Lewkowicz took charge of Class A6 midway through day one and with the casualty rate among the top runners, gradually moved up the pecking order. Among the casualties were 11 time South African champion Sarel van der Merwe and Martin Botha, in the second Daewoo Lanos, who ran into one suspension problem after the other and finally dropped out with a blown clutch.
Van der Walt and Harding grabbed their sixth Class A7 win in seven outings this season. They were, however, a little fortunate when leaders Keith Coleman and Uwe Koch also fell foul of the rock in Special Stage 12 that sparked the Habig/Judd furore.
Like JP Damseaux and Arries the Natal pair of Tony Ball and Alec Harris, in the Bulwer Park VW Golf, staged a great final day comeback with the two crews sixth and seventh overall. Behind them the top 10 was completed by three Group N crews.
Natalians Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen (Team Total Nissan Sentra) were second in the Group N category and in Class N3, with Cape crew Diffie Marais and Danie de Waal (Tony's Radiators Toyota Corolla) who won Class N2 ahead of 10th placed Schalk Burger and Thilo von Westernhagen in the Godrich Toyota Conquest.
The early day two demise of Class N1 overnight leaders Allen Worms and Ashley Gericke (Opel Corsa) let in Rodney Visagie and Chris Olsen, in a Toyota Conquest, who now lead the Class N1 championship. Second in the class were the father and son team of Dave and Wayne Watt in another Toyota Conquest.
With Habig and Judd certain to protest over their exclusion, Agip Rally post mortems are not yet over. The protest from the champions is likely to go to an appeal court, with results unofficial until a final boardroom decision.