Fun in the Mud

Many moons ago the Pop’s Robert Interclub Championship saw members of the five Rally Clubs in the Western Cape present rally sprints, gymkhana and regularity rallies contest in a fun series where road cars and almost any competition car could be utilised by a variety of drivers and navigators without breaking the bank. Slowly but surely the club element (such as the club award in each regional and national rally), was eliminated, for reasons that can be debated for days on end and the Pop’s Robert series was discontinued. The WBMK Gymkhana Championship then became extremely popular until that too found itself throttled into it’s current need for review.

A 3km special stage on private property harks back to the days of the Pop’s Robert Championship and the efforts of Neels van Wyk and his team should be guided and encouraged to allow this format to gain popularity again. Forty three entries that ranged from a humble 998cc Austin Mini to the monster 6.1 Nissan Patrol 4x4 adequate proof that the interest is there to have newcomers and veterans from all walks of life test their skills in a rallying environment.

On Saturday 21 July 2018 The Wolwedans Rally Sprint 4 All really tuned into one of the most enjoyable events of the season with a great spectacle for the many spectators that supported the event in near perfect weather and whether you achieved an award or not, just being part of the event left most with a smile on their face. Cleaning the cars and crews afterwards adding a new dimension to the challenge as they were beyond dirty!

Watching 4x4 experts Frans and JP Fourie storming into the mudhole with the awesome Nissan Patrol 6.1 one would have been tempted to consider this a Hollywood style rescue vehicle racing to the aid of someone in critical danger. It certainly is not an average road vehicle, nor would it be termed a racing off-roader, but the driver is certainly more the capable of controlling the bucking bronco and they set fastest time of the time enroute overall victory after four very entertaining stages.

Having rebuilt the acciDent Guru class S3 469 VW Golf MkI 2.0 8v after a recent accident during a Rally X event at Killarney Paul van Wyk and Derick Davids was present just to shakedown the car, but it did not take long for the rallying instinct to step in and motivate the team to second overall and first in class. Now hopefully, they will be considering the next round of the WP Rally Championship, the 4 August 2018 WPMC All Tar Rally at the Killarney International Raceway.

Elrico Koen and Pierre Genis was entered in two vehicles but their obvious pace in their impressive LandRover Defender 4.6 “Bakkie” would eventually only be four seconds shy of the rally Golf to claim an impressive third position overall. Fourth overall and third in class A went to an extremely impressive vehicle. In sheer dimensions alone it could be classified as miniature when compared to the Patrol and Defender it had to face as opposition but thanks to it’s whistling hairdryer heart the little Suzuki Jimny Samurai 1.8 Turbo 4x4 of Willie Mostert gained many supporters on the day. That short wheel base just not stable enough over the high speed rough sections to really irritate the monsters.

Justin Hoeben and Sareen Kotze had a great drive to fifth spot in their class A Subaru Forester 2.5 4x4 whilst the Drive of the Day simply had to be Sakkie and Jolene van Zyl in their massive Nuts & Bolts Rally class B Mercedes Benz 280S. Possibly the most unlikely vehicle entered they proved impressive in all areas as the car was stable at high speed, simply ploughed through the mud and proved surprisingly agile in the tighter sections. Who would have thought sixth overall would be possible in such as car?

Bernard Greef and Johan Muller another combination who proved deceptively quick in seventh with their class A Toyota Fortuner 4.0 after a steady and consistent outing. Another rally car returning after almost a year in ICU was the VW Golf MkI 1.6 of Brian Hoskins with Kevin Calvert on duty as driver for the day. Eighth and first in class C certainly proving that it was worth the effort as the car never missed a beat. Steve Bekker and Dean van Tonder another team having a whale of a time in their standard class C Access Auto VW Polo TDi 1.9 and despite two punctures they were well pleased with ninth overall.

Those with very long memories will remember class G in the Western Province Rally Championship and it was quite pleasing to see the class B Sandmaster 2.0 of Johan Lourens returning to the sport in tenth spot overall. Jacques and Henk Willmot might have finished 11th overall in their class C VW Beach Buggy 1.6 but they had the most fun of anyone as they must have finished completely drenched. That is the spirit guys!

Herman and Elzaan Swart enjoyed their day in a rather well used BMW 318i 1.8 and 12th overall was immaterial compared to the fun they had. Johannes Jonker and Tania Vermaak won class D and also earned life “Damduiker” membership for their efforts in the unique 1500 Alfasud powered Mierleeu Spaceframe Buggy.

Finding the original Wiel rally Skyline in fourteenth spot overall was a pleasant surprise as this car last contested the Fees van die Berge Ceres Rally in 2008! Gerhard Keyser and ML Conradie brought the legendary car out of hibernation and the prospect of seeing two 428 class B Nissan Skylines on a regional rally is certainly mouth watering. Gerhard in the original 2.9 Wiel Skyline and Winston Neethling in the later 3.1 version.

Koos and Mariette van Wyk quietly drove their ex-Leon Esterhuyse class B Ford Bantam 2.0 to fifteenth spot whilst Gavin Haylett and Daneel van Tonder brought their neat class D Nissan Champ 1.4 LDV home in sixteenth spot. Pierre du Bois and Tania Vermaak seventeenth overall in the Team 432 AHS Racing Mitsubishi Lancer GT1600. This car had so many combinations on the day that it is believed that the times became mingled up in the scoring but this was just for fun.

Tania Vermaak and Johannes Jonker swopped sides in Mierleeu to finish 18th overall after a tough day that even resulted in contact with a tree whilst the extremely neat Nuts & Bolts Rally Datsun Stanza 1.8 of Arno and Louis Cilliers were classified as the final finishers in the results.

Not everyone opted to complete all their runs and quite a few discovered that their steeds need some development to go playing in the dirt. Two navigators in particular were of interest on the day. Susanna van der Merwe  (Born 21 September 1931) is the 86 year old mother of Neels van Wyk, organiser of the rally sprint, and she was present to enjoy a run with Ashley Haigh-Smith in the Team 432 AHS Racing Mitsubishi Lancer GT1600. Derrick “Swart Sarel” Benjamin was also present with Annette Hamphries, born in Zambia and of French origin she is deaf and works as Deaf Teaching Assistant for SA Sign Language. Unfortunately the VW Polo 2.0 broke a rear stub axle on their first run and she was offered a drive with Ashley Haigh-Smith in the Mitsubishi – which then got stuck in the mud! They enjoyed their respective encounters with Wolwedans though!

The balance of the field include many interesting combinations with Koos Swanepoel Jnr (Sasol GTC technical guru) and Werner Koekemoer (Mayor of Mykonos) attracting much attention in their standard BMW E36 328i. Neither need any introduction in motorsport but both now have 13 year old sons as navigators and it was game on between Sebastian Swanepoel and Johan Koekemoer Jnr. Selfishly protecting their own ego’s their father’s then broke the BMW – but they will be back!

Peet van der Walt risked getting mud on his neat racing overall by driving a Spaceframe VW Buggy 1.8 whilst the many numbers on the Team 432 AHS Racing Mitsubishi Lancer GT 1600 created confusion amongst the scorers and Piet Steyn never even made the final results as a finisher?

What was encouraging to see was the volume of BMW E36 entries present in various guises as this certainly indicates interest in the fledgling regional Rally X series that will see events at both the Killarney International Raceway and Zone 7 and will undoubtedly also see them back for more on Rally Sprints in future. Rikus van Zyl, Zack Groenewald, Shane Justus, and Dean Holloway all favouring the rear wheel driven Beemers.

It was almost heartbreaking to see Zeggie Zeehlin and Hennie van der Sandt putting a much sought after Ford Anglia 1.2 through it’s paces, but most impressive to see what it was capable of in such trying conditions. Even more so for Graham Talbot in his very neat 998cc Austin Mini.

Marius and Angie Swart looked very impressive until their orange class B VW Golf MkI 2.0 broke a CV joint whilst the little 1.3 Toyota Tazz of Byron Hite simply could not offer more in the muddy patches. Johan van Rooyen and R du Preez had enough power but the heavy Ford Granada 3.0 simply would not get through the mud whilst the rally Opel Kadett 2.0 16v of Martin Esterhuyse Jnr managed to break a rear shock absorber.

The antics of Jean Joubert and Wesley Frey proved entertaining in their VW Beach Buggy 1.6 whilst Schalk van der Westhuizen had a tough time teaching his neat oval track car to turn the other way. Sean Kriel and Bernard Visser also enjoyed the wet aboard their unique Daihatsu powered Hasadu 1.0 Buggy.  The very neat Subaru of JP and Mieke van der Poel treated with respect as it clearly was not used to these conditions.

To many more!