JAN HABIG AND DOUGLAS JUDD WIN MOUNTAIN TRIAL BY 3 SECONDS Colin Windell 14 August 1999 - Aliwal North, Saturday - South Africa's two top rally crews today fought out a running battle on the Mountain Trial which finished here, round four of the...
JAN HABIG AND DOUGLAS JUDD WIN MOUNTAIN TRIAL BY 3 SECONDS Colin Windell
14 August 1999 - Aliwal North, Saturday - South Africa's two top rally crews today fought out a running battle on the Mountain Trial which finished here, round four of the Stannic Rally Championship, culminating in one of the closest finishes in the history of South African national championship special stage rallying.
When the dust had settled, literally, log leaders Jan Habig and Doug Judd in the factory VW Motorsport Golf had eked out a three second win over the works Castrol Toyota pair of Serge Damseaux and Guy Hodgson. The VW crew went into the event with a tenuous seven point lead over their Castrol Toyota rivals in the championship, and at the halfway mark of the series the gap is now 14 points.
It was also only Volkswagen's second victory on an event that was first run in the early 1980s. In a battle that was always loaded with interest there were never more than 12 seconds between the two crews.
With two special stages to run Damseaux and Hodgson actually led by two seconds - after Habig and Judd lost time via a broken wheel near the end of special stage nine. The VW crew then took nine seconds off the Castrol Toyota pair in special stage 10 to hold a seven second lead going into the final special stage of the event.
A do or die event from Damseaux and Hodgson was not enough. They picked up four seconds on Habig and Judd and had to settle for second place.
The final place on the podium went to Paolo Piazza-Musso and Richard Leeke, in the Sasol Motorcraft Ford Escort, who were in fourth place for most of the final day. They sneaked into third when Etienne Lourens and Barry White, in the Team Total Toyota Conquest, ran into problems on the penultimate special stage.
A puncture on special stage 10 cost the pair around three minutes and they dropped out of the top five. Fourth place went to Class A6 winners Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz (Dunair Toyota Corolla), who were followed home by Class A7 winners Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding in the Rieks Towing VW Golf.
Fekken and Lewkowicz were having their first outing in the Toyota Corolla and it was a tremendous performance from the Pretoria based crew. The unfortunate Lourens and White, deputising for Robert Paisley who had business commitments, found themselves suddenly relegated to sixth place after a podium finish looked to be cut and dried.
Former Toyota, Ford and Daewoo factory driver Enzo Kuun, having his first national outing of the season, slotted into seventh place in the Topcar BMW with Steve Grobbelaar doing the co-driving. The car, however, was entered in Class S20 which does not score points towards the Stannic championship.
Another dominant performance in the Group N category saw Hannes Grobler and Nic Hadden win the Group N category and Class N3 and come home seventh overall in the Total Bridgestone Nissan Sentra. The only Class A6 and Class A7 crews ahead of Grobler/Hadden were Fekken/Lewkowicz and van der Walt/Harding who have got their season back on track after a rocky start to the year.
KwaZulu-Natal crew Tony Ball and Marti Olivier, in the Bulwer Park VW Golf, staged one of their now familiar day two recoveries to finish eighth. The pair started the day 14th and then set about working their way through the field.
Former Toyota, Ford and Daewoo factory driver Enzo Kuun, partnered by Steve Grobbelaar in the Topcar BMW, marked his first outing of the season with a ninth place finish. The Topcar BMW, however, was entered in Class S20 and does not qualify to score points towards the Stannic championship.
The final top 10 place went to Pretoria crew Callie van der Merwe and Andre Vermeulen in the ex Fekken Toyota Conquest running in Class A6. They edged out Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries, having their first run in the Team Total Toyota Corolla, by just eight seconds.
Grobler and Hadden were nearly four minutes ahead of Cliff Blackman and Johann Klaasen, in the Team Total Nissan Sentra, in Class N3. Blackman and Klaasen were 12th overall and around a minute ahead of Class N2 winners Dean Sanders and Graham Hooper in the Team Total Toyota Corolla.
Sanders and Hooper gradually took control of what looked like developing into a Class N2 dogfight. Only six seconds separated the first three cars at the overnight halt, but as the final day wore on Sanders/Hooper eased their way clear of Kobus Roos and Niel Fourie in the Castrol Dunlop Toyota Corolla.
The Class N1 battle turned into an Opel benefit. Schalk Burger Jnr and Greg Godrich (Godrich Opel Corsa) scored their first national series win ahead of Rastern Cape crew Johan Strydom and Morne Ferreira in an Opel Kadett and Allen Worms and Brendan Nunan in the Team Total Opel Corsa.
1 J Habig/D Judd (VW Motorsport Golf) 1:51:46; 2 S Damseaux/G Hodgson (Castrol Toyota Corolla) 1:51:49; 3 P Piazza-Musso/R Leeke (Sasol Motorcraft Ford Escort) 1:55:00; 4 H Fekken/D Lewkowicz (Dunair Toyota Corolla) 1:57:36; 5 T van der Walt/C Harding (Rieks Towing VW Golf) 1:57:58; 6 E Lourens/B White (Team Total Toyota Conquest) 1:58:02; 7 H Grobler/M Hadden (Total Bridgestone Nissan Sentra) 2:00:33; 8 T Ball/M Olivier (Bulwer Park VW Golf) 2:02:01; 9 E Kuun/S Grobbelaar (Topcar BMW) 02:02:48; 10 C van der Merwe/A Vermeulen (Toyota Conquest) 2:03:15.
Class A8 - J Habig/D Judd (VW Motorsport Golf); Class A7 - T van der Walt/C Harding (Rieks Towing VW Golf); Class A6 - H Fekken/D Lewkowicz (Dunair Toyota Corolla); Class N3 - H Grobler/N Hadden (Total Bridgestone Nissan Sentra); Class N2 - D Sanders/G Hooper (Team Total Toyota Corolla); Class N1 - S Burger Jnr/G Godrich (Godrich Toyota Conquest).
Manufacturers Award: Toyota.