Sasol Rally

SASOL RALLY FRIDAY 18 JUNE BULLETIN ONE TOYOTA TAKE EARLY LEAD ON SASOL RALLY It was advantage Toyota - but only just - after the first section of the Sasol Rally, round three of the Stannic Rally Championship, which started in...

SASOL RALLY

FRIDAY 18 JUNE

BULLETIN ONE

TOYOTA TAKE EARLY LEAD ON SASOL RALLY

It was advantage Toyota - but only just - after the first section of the Sasol Rally, round three of the Stannic Rally Championship, which started in Sabie this morning.

At the end of the first six special stages making up section one of the event, reigning South African drivers champion Serge Damseaux and Guy Hodgson, in the works Castrol Toyota Conquest, led the VW Golf 4 factory pair of Jan Habig and Douglas Judd by just seven seconds. Everyone expected the event to develop into a battle between the two factory crews, and it did not take long for expectations to turn to reality.

At the first regroup and refuel back in Sabie, the two works teams were well clear of third placed Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley (Team Total Toyota Conquest) with Sasol Motorcraft Ford Escort crew Paolo Piazza-Musso and Richard Leeke a further minute in arrears.

The Damseaux/Hodgson and Habig/Judd combinations lost no time in getting to grips with each other. The Toyota crew took five seconds off the VW pair in stage one, Habig and Judd pulled back two seconds in stage two and so it went on.

Damseaux and Hodgson, however, almost came unstuck at the end of special stage five. The Castrol Toyota hit a bank at the tight right hand corner at the flying finish and this rearranged the right front suspension.

Service crew frantically repaired the damage but it looked as though Damseaux and Hodgson would pick up a penalty for lateness at special stage six. The pair avoided what would have been a minor disaster by clocking in at the time control with less than a minute to spare.

With the second leg including two night special stages, however, Damseaux and Hodgson will be hard pressed to maintain their lead. Dust is, as usual, a problem on the Sasol Rally, and Habig and Judd have a huge advantage by virtue of being first on the road.

Fifth at the first regroup were Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding in the Rieks Towing VW Golf. They were leading Class A7 and only 11 seconds adrift of Piazza-Musso and Leeke, but were under pressure from Callie van der Merwe and Andre Vermeulen in the ex factory Daewoo Lanos.

Seventh at the regroup and leading Class A6 by a healthy margin were Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz in the Dunair Toyota Conquest. They were followed by Class A7 crew Barry Grobbelaar and Mike Burrows (Team Total Toyota Conquest) who were second in Class A7.

Next up were Team Total Toyota Conquest crew Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries who were lying second in Class A6. The top 10 was completed by Fernando Rueda and Johan Sieling in a second ex factory Daewoo Lanos.

A good battle was going on in the Group N category and Class N3 with Hannes Grobler/Nic Hadden (Total Bridgestone Nissan Sentra) leading old foes Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen in the Team Total Nissan Sentra. Only 16 seconds separated the two crews with this battle to watch.

Another scrap to keep an eye was developing in Class N2. Here only four seconds separated Schalk Burger/Martin Botha (Bridgestone Quality Tyres Toyota Corolla) and Dean Sanders and Graham Hooper in the Team Total Toyota Corolla.

Down in Class N1 the early skirmishes saw Team Total Toyota crew Rodney Visagie and Carolyn Cimma fighting it out with team-mates Wayne Dave Watt, also in a Toyota,. Here the gap was 12 seconds after four of the six special stages.

FRIDAY 18 JUNE 1999

BULLETIN TWO

HABIG/JUDD TAKE FIRM GRIP ON SASOL RALLY

Former South African champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd took a firm grip on the Sasol Rally, third round of the Stannic Rally Championship, which started in Sabie this morning.

At the overnight halt in Nelspruit, after 12 of the scheduled 23 special stages, the VW Golf 4 works crew were one minute and 52 seconds ahead of Team Total Toyota Conquest crew Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley. A further 59 seconds behind were Serge Damseaux and Guy Hodgson, in the factory Castrol Toyota Conquest, who held a narrow seven second lead at the first regroup in Sabie after six special stages.

Both the factory VW and Toyota crews went into the Sasol Rally level pegging at the top of the championship log, with the Sasol set to break the deadlock. The turning point on a day full of action came on special stage 10 when Damseaux and Hodgson lost more than two minutes when a rear anti roll bar broke.

Damseaux and Hodgson were also a trifle fortunate earlier in the day when they hit a bank at the end of special stage five and rearranged the Castrol Toyota's right front suspension. Service crew hastily repaired the damage but the pair looked certain to pick up a penalty for lateness at the special stage six time control.

As it was they made it to the control with less than a minute to spare. That preserved their seven second lead over Habig and Judd, but with two dirt stages on the night agenda being first on the road presented the VW pair with a golden opportunity to mount a counter attack.

With dust always a factor on the Sasol, it did not take Habig and Judd long to do just that. The first night stage on the second leg saw Habig and Judd relegate Damseaux and Hodgson to second place - by four seconds.

Special stage 10 altered the picture completely with the steady Lourens/Paisley combination moving into second place. Damseaux and Hodgson ended the day 30 seconds clear of Paolo Piazza-Musso and Richard Leeke in the Sasol Motorcraft Ford Escort, with further problems for the team with Damseaux suffering from a leg injury.

"We were trying to lift the car back onto the road in stage 10 when I felt something go in my leg," said Damseaux who was treated at the overnight halt by one of the doctors on the event. "It's very painful but I'll be okay."

A back to form Tjaart van der Walt (Rieks Towing VW Golf) ended the day fifth overall and leading Class A7. They were only 19 clear of Team Total VW Golf pair Barry Grobbelaar and Mike Burrows, with a good battle in the offing between to highly competent crews.

The second leg was also a disaster for Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz, in the Dunair Toyota Conquest, who were leading Class A6 by a healthy margin at the regroup. Special stage eight cost them 14 minutes and arch rivals Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries (Team Total Toyota Conquest) moved into a comfortable class lead and were seventh overall at the overnight halt.

There were no major surprises at the top of the Group N leaderboard. Reigning drivers champion Hannes Grobler and Nic Hadden (Total Bridgestone Nissan Sentra) were eighth overall at the overnight halt and also led Class N3.

They were nine seconds clear of Fernando Rueda and Johan Sieling, in the ex factory Daewoo Lanos, and 30 seconds ahead of arch Class N3 rivals Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen in the Team Total Nissan Sentra. The two Nissans were the only Group N cars in the top 10 at the overnight stop with a terrific battle going on in Class N2.

At the regroup Schalk Burger and Martin Botha (Quality Tyres Bridgestone Toyota Corolla) led Dean Sanders and Graham Hooper (Team Total Toyota Corolla) by 12 seconds. At the end of the day the positions were reversed and a good second leg saw Sanders/Hooper holding down a 16 second lead.

Down in Class N1 Rodney Visagie and Carolyn Cimma, in the Team Total Toyota Conquest, found themselves with a handy lead over Allen Worms and Brendan Nunan. Worms and Nunan also provided for a little drama when they rolled the Corsa early on the event.

SATURDAY 19 JUNE 1999

BULLETIN THREE

NO IMMEDIATE CHANGE TO THE OVERNIGHT STATUS QUO

There was no immediate change to the overnight status quo when the Sasol Rally, round three of the Stannic Rally Championship restarted in Nelspruit this morning.

Overnight leaders Jan Habig and Douglas Judd, in the factory VW Golf 4, had a comfort zone when matters got underway and slightly increased their lead on the first special stage of the day when they took four seconds off second placed Ettienne Lourens and Robert Paisley in the Team Total Toyota Conquest. Third placed Serge Damseaux and Guy Hodgson, in the Castrol Toyota Conquest where only five seconds off Habig's pace in stage one but Damseaux was being troubled with a leg injury and was scheduled to see a doctor at the refuel at the end of leg three of the event at Sabie later in the morning.

Lourens and Paisley took ten seconds off Habig and Judd in the second stage of the day but the VW crew still had a lead of just short of two minutes and had the luxury of knowing they did not have to take any undue chances. The growing question at this stage, however, was whether or not Damseaux and Hodgson could hold off the Sasol Motorcraft Ford Escort of Paolo Piazza-Musso and Richard Leeke which started the day only 30 seconds behind the Castrol Toyota.

In the battle in Class A7 Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding in the Rieks Towing VW Golf gave themselves a little extra breathing space over Team Total VW Golf pair Barry Grobbelaar and Mike Burrows. Van der Walt and Harding started the day 19 seconds ahead of the Team Total crew but picked up another eight seconds over the first two special stages.

SATURDAY 19 JUNE 1999

BULLETIN FOUR

Former South African champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd continued to hold most of the cards with the Sasol Rally, third round of the Stannic Rally Championship, moving into it's final stages.

After 17 of the scheduled 23 special stages Habig and Judd held a 1 minute 46 second lead over Team Total Toyota Conquest crew Ettienne Lourens and Robert Paisley at the final regroup in Sabie at the end of leg three of the event. Third place was being held down by Serge Damseaux and Guy Hodgson in the Castrol Toyota Conquest who were more than 2 minutes behind Lourens and Paisley.

Damseaux and Hodgson were only 37 seconds ahead of fourth placed Paolo Piazza-Musso and Richard Leeke in the Sasol Motorcraft Ford Escort but all was not well with the Toyota crew.

Damseaux was battling with a leg injury and consulted a doctor overnight and received more treatment at Sabie. To compound his problems Damseaux had to contend with no power steering on the Castrol Toyota during this mornings stages between the restart in Nelspruit and Sabie.

"The leg in okay but the lack of power steering has been a major problem," said Damseaux. "Hopefully we can get it sorted out at the refuel".

With Habig/Judd and Lourens/Paisley comfortably placed the big question over the final stretch will be whether or not Damseaux and Hodgson can hold off Piazza-Musso and Leek. The Toyota crew and the VW Golf 4 factory pair of Habig/Judd, went into the Sasol Rally level pegging at the top of the drivers and co-drivers championships.

At the Sabie regroup a back to form Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding, in the Rieks Towing VW Golf, had cemented their hold on fifth place and were firmly in control at the top of Class A7. In the only change in the order in the top eight during the third leg, Team Total Toyota Conquest pair Jean Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries moved Into sixth place. The younger Damseaux and Arries overhauled Class A7 contenders Barry Grobbelaar and Mike Burrows, in the Team Total VW Golf, who were now three minutes and 15 seconds behind van der Walt and Harding.

Former South African champion Hannes Grobler and Nic Hadden in the Total Bridgestone Nissan Sentra, continued to lead the Group N category and Class N3. Grobler and Hadden were also starting to threaten the Grobbelaar/Burrows combination with seventh place the target for the Group N crew over the remaining stages.

SATURDAY 19 JUNE 1999

BULLETIN FINAL

HABIG/JUDD BREAK CHAMPIONSHIP DEADLOCK

Former South African champions Jan Habig and Douglas Judd broke the deadlock at the top of the championship log when they won the Sasol Rally, round three of the Stannic Rally Championship, which ended in Nelspruit today.

Habig and Judd, in the factory VW Golf 4, came in a comfortable one minute and 47 seconds ahead of Castrol Toyota Conquest works pair Serge Damseaux and Guy Hodgson. The two crews were level pegging - with a win and a second apiece - at the start of the event with Habig/Judd now taking a slight seven point advantage into the VW Rally, the next round of the Stannic Rally Championship, on Volkswagen home ground in the Eastern Cape in July.

Habig and Judd took control of the event late on the first day when Damseaux and Hodgson lost more than two minutes with a broken rear anti roll bar. From that moment on Habig and Judd were able to pace themselves and enjoyed a relatively troublefree run.

The VW team held a lead of one minute 52 seconds at the overnight halt, and held most of the high cards. However, the fact that they only lost five seconds during the day is testimony to just how well they went about their job

For the factory Toyota crew it was a different story. They only clinched second place on the very last special stage with Damseaux battling early on with a painful leg injury and no power steering.

At the final regroup after three legs of the event Damseaux and Hodgson were 90 seconds behind Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley, in the Team Total Toyota Conquest, and just 37 seconds ahead of Paolo Piazza-Musso and Richard Leeke in the Sasol Motorcraft Ford Escort. With six special stages remaining the question being asked was not whether Damseaux/Hodgson could catch Lourens/Paisley, but whether they could hold off Piazza-Musso and Leeke?

With the power steering problem sorted out and after more medical treatment, Damseaux quickly showed that catching Lourens/Paisley was the priority. He started to take great chunks of time off the Team Total crew and the Sasol Ford pair, and closed to within two seconds of Lourens and Paisley going into the final special stage.

The unfortunate Piazza-Musso and Leeke went off the road on the penultimate special stage while lying fourth, and in a last ditch effort Damseaux and Hodgson took six seconds off the KwaZulu Natal pair in the final stage to grab second place. It was a brave result that could prove hugely important when all the points are totted up at the end of the season.

The Piazza-Musso/Leeke escapade saw a back to form Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding, in the Rieks Towing VW Golf, move into fourth place and win Class A7. A 60 second penalty for lateness after a cam belt problem still left them with an advantage of nearly three minutes over fifth placed Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries.

The younger Damseaux and Arries won Class A6 by a wide margin although they profited from the day one problems encountered by Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz in the Dunair Toyota Conquest. It was, nevertheless, a mature performance from the pair who finished just over a minute ahead of Class A7 pair Tony Ball and Marti Olivier in the Bulwer Park VW Golf.

A great day two performance saw Ball and Olivier pick up seven places, with the pair edging ahead of Group N and Class N3 winners Hannes Grobler and Nic Hadden in the Total Bridgestone Nissan Sentra. The ubiquitous Grobler, a former South African rally and off-road champion, and Hadden were nearly two minutes clear of Dean Sanders and Graham Hooper in the Team Total Toyota Corolla.

Sanders, son of former works driver Eric, and Hooper got stronger and stronger as the event progressed, and were the third Group N crew to take a top 10 finish. They also won Class N2 ahead of Schalk Burger and Martin Botha (Quality Tyres Bridgestone Toyota Corolla), with Jakkie Joubert and Danie Smit ninth in the hybrid 4x4 VW Beetle powered by a turbocharged Volvo motor.

Joubert and Smit, however, were competing in Class S20 which does not count towards national championship scoring. The final top 10 place went to Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen, in the Team Total Nissan Sentra, with the pair second to Grobler/Hadden in Class N3.

The "baby" Class N1 honours went to reigning drivers champion Rodney Visagie and Carolyn Cimma in the Team Total Toyota Tazz. A workmanlike performance brought them home ahead of the consistent Mike Houghton and Bryn Doherty, in another Toyota Tazz, who have a 100 percent finish record this season.

Toyota won the manufacturers award with class wins shared by Toyota (3), Volkswagen (2) and Nissan.

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