VOLKSWAGEN RALLY 17 JULY 1998 19H30 BULLETIN 3 The Volkswagen Rally - round five of the Stannic National Rally Championship - which started in Port Elizabeth today, continued to produce early drama this afternoon. After the first two ...
17 JULY 1998 19H30
The Volkswagen Rally - round five of the Stannic National Rally Championship - which started in Port Elizabeth today, continued to produce early drama this afternoon.
After the first two special stages only two seconds separated reigning South African champions Jannie Habig and Douglas Judd, in the factory VW Golf, and six times South African champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede in the Castrol Toyota Conquest. That all changed during the course of special stage three, a long 48 kilometre haul in the Zuurberg, when the Castrol Toyota crew lost a wheel early in the special stage and lost an estimated eight to 10 minutes.
That left Habig and Judd in a two minute lead with a string of angry crews - stuck behind Damseaux and Bonafede on the stage for varying times and distances - behind the VW Golf pair. Paolo Piazza-Musso and Nic Hadden, in the Sasol Ford Escort, reckoned they were stuck behind the Castrol Toyota for about 10 kilometres and lost one minute and 43 seconds to Habig and Judd.
Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding, lying third in the Rieks Towing Golf after the second special stage, were the biggest losers after also catching the stricken Toyota in the special stage. They dropped 50 seconds to Hergen Fekken and Dave Lewkowicz in the Dunair Toyota Conquest, and 20 seconds to Class A7 rivals Barry Grobbelaar and Mike Burrows in the Team Total VW Golf.
They also dropped time to Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Pierre Arries in the Team Total Conquest and Group N leaders Cliff Blackman and Johan Klaasen in the Team Total Nissan Sentra. The end result was that van der Walt/Harding slipped to sixth overall behind the younger Damseaux and Arries, Fekken and Lewkowicz and the Blackman/Klaasen combination.
Van der Walt and Harding were also only one second ahead of Grobbelaar/Burrows but were not the only crew to suffer. Apart from Piazza-Musso and Hadden the Fekken/Lewkowicz combination also found themselves stuck behind the Castrol Toyota for a period.
Ironically father Damseaux's problems worked to the advantage of son Jean-Pierre and Arries. The younger Damseaux and Arries were running seventh on the road and had a clean stage, setting the third fastest time behind Habig/Judd and Piazza-Musso/Hadden in the Class A8 cars.
The status quo did not change much on special stage four, a short two kilometre spectator stage in the centre of Uitenhage. Piazza-Musso and Hadden picked up four seconds on Habig and Judd, and van der Walt and Harding took three seconds off Grobbelaar and Burrows but, with only little more than seven kilomtres left of special stage distance on day one, positions were not likely to alter too much in the closing stages.
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