DAMSEAUX WINS SASOL RALLY NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA <COLIN WINDELL>:From the first special stage of the 1996 Sasol Rally which started in Sabie, Mpumalanga on Friday, reigning South African Champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede went...
DAMSEAUX WINS SASOL RALLY
NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA <COLIN WINDELL>:From the first special stage of the 1996 Sasol Rally which started in Sabie, Mpumalanga on Friday, reigning South African Champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede went out to win the event and to extend their lead in this year's series.
The plan came together without a hitch and the pair powered their Castrol Toyota Conquest 4x4 to the finish, never really challenged for the lead they established in the first of the 24 special stages that culminated with the final stage in the centre of the town of Nelspruit.
Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson in the Bankfin Hyundai Accent 4x4 held second place through the event, finishing some 4m31s behind the Toyota. Behind them though, the battle for third place throughout the event was a classic case of power versus tactics.
Multiple former South African Champions Sarel van der Merwe and Franz Boshoff put all the knowledge and ability of all their rallying years together to get into third place in the first section of the event on Friday. When rain began to fall in the final stages of the first day and through into the second section of the rally yesterday, the four- wheel drive cars began to gain the upper hand.
For the two-wheel drive Daewoo this meant tremendous pressure from the ex-works Toyota Conquest 4x4 of fourth-placed Peter Alterskye and Alan Bissett and, when the Daewoo developed overheating problems in stage 16, the Toyota pairing moved ahead. By stage 20 the Daewoo pair had been demoted again, this time by the StanBrik VW Golf of Jan Habig and Douglas Judd - the pair having fought back from ninth place following a puncture in stage 2.
However, Alterskye and Bissett threw it away on stage 22 near the flying finish when they almost rolled the car but escaped with a damaged wheel and lost time as the only penalties, the time factor allowing Habig and Judd through to finish third overall.
At the finish Van der Merwe, a two-time winner of the Sasol Rally, had to be content with fifth place overall.
However, the drive of the event came from young Hergen Fekken and navigator Dave Lewkowicz in the Crisp Air Toyota Conquest, the 1700cc car ably driven to finish up in the points among the quicker 2,0-litre engined entrants in sixth place. Seventh overall went to the Natal pairing of Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley in a Toyota Conquest ahead of Eliso Miranda and Francois Pretorius (VW Golf).
The battle for ninth place ended sadly for Tony Ball and Brian Duncan just a few short stages from the finish when they were forced to retire when their VW Golf got bogged down in the stage, allowing Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding (Rieks Towing VW Golf) to move up a place, bringing with them the Toyota Conquest of Theuns Viloen and Andre Vermeulen into 10 spot.
Of the 40 starters in Sabie on Friday afternoon 23 made it through the 450 kilometres of special stage to the finish in Nelspruit.
1. Damseaux/Bonafede (Toyota Conquest), 02:20,46 2. Kuun/Hodgson (Hyundai Accent), 02:25,17 3. Habig/Judd (VW Golf), 02:29,25 4. Alterskye/Bissett (Toyota Conquest), 02:30,03 5. Van der Merwe/Boshoff (Daewoo Cielo), 02:31,08 6. Fekken/Lewkowicz (Toyota Conquest), 02:31,33 7. Lourens/Paisley (Toyota Conquest), 02:32,20 8. Miranda/Pretorius (VW Golf), 02:34,51 9. Van der Walt/Harding (VW Golf), 02:37,46 10. Viljoen/Vermeulen (Toyota Conquest), 02:39,29
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