Gymkhana Heritage Wins

There is just something special about arriving first at a racetrack. As daylight slowly presents the circuit in full colour one cannot help but experience a flood of memories, good and bad, whilst awaiting the arrival of fellow officials and competitors. And it simply would not be motorsport if the correct gate was open on time!

As everyone arrived, settling into the normal pre-event madness of getting documentation completed, scrutineering done, the route finalised and then working around what was simply forgotten became the focus. As you eventually convince yourself that all this effort and chaos is not fun anymore the wheels start moving and the event starts shifting gears (alright, most only need two or three on a gymkhana) to create a unique atmosphere that represents a unique heritage.

Too early for the braai fires one was once again reminded that motorsport does not have to be affected by opinions and politics. A call was made for assistance to get the Heritage Day Gymkhana Killarney ready and the gymkhana family stepped in to assist in ways never experienced before. Complete strangers pitched in to assist in every role required and the entry list represented all walks of life, in an incredible array of vehicles. Admittedly there were specialists in the sport, in dedicated machinery, but they were sharing valuable knowledge with anyone willing to take good advice and most encouragingly the veterans present in the background was seen encouraging the newcomers.

A couple of months ago circumstances beyond the control of the Witzenberg Motorklub had resulted in the series taking a sabbatical whilst alternative answers were sought. Regular contact with the Western Province Motor Club resulted in open discussions and the Heritage Day Gymkhana became reality in a rather short space of time. Most encouraging was the genuine enthusiasm experienced in the lead up to, and during the day.

In numbers the entry list would reflect 62 teams, but the normal influences of life would eventually see 54 teams contest the event on the tarmac oval from 10h00 on Monday 24 September 2018. The mirror image routes had the newcomers develop nervous twitches whilst every organisers nightmare actually pitched for this event! The fact that Mike Nathan was actually wearing a friendly smile, did not complain about anything and actually looked like he was enjoying the company of his traditional opponents rattled those who occupied Race HQ. But, it was great to see the six time King of Mykonos back in action! It was also good to note Anton van Bosch, Willy Learmonth, Deon Conradie, Jaybee Pretorius and many more amongst those present in the Pits.

Rafique Firfirey and Abdul Sayed led the field into battle with the L&M Automotive Performance class G Mini Cooper S Turbo 1.6, but they were under serious pressure from Leon Engelbrecht and Carel Bosch. Sharing the silver Mini they traded the top spot on a few occasions before the 2017 WBMK Gymkhana Drivers Champion posted the fastest time of the day at 1min09.33 to secure overall victory.

Leon Engelbrecht and Carel Bosch secured second spot whilst Mike Nathan and Liezel Oosthuizen proved that they had lost none of their renowned gymkhana prowess by placing the class G VW Golf Club Sport S Turbo 2.0 third. Mike Nathan became legend in his blue Mazda Rustler LDV at Club Mykonos Langebaan and one can only expect him to become faster in future.

Pierre and Jacques du Plessis taking top honours in class B as well as fourth place overall in their impressive Du Plessis Auto Toyota Conquest RSi 1.8 16v with impressive newcomers, Stefan Schoeman and Kurt Jantjies, placing their class G Ford Fiesta ST Turbo 1.6 fifth overall after a confident drive. Certainly a combination that could ruffle a few established feathers in future. Swopping sides it was Jacques and Pierre du Plessis sixth overall in their Du Plessis Auto class B Toyota Conquest RSi 1.8 16v. Jacques set to make his Western Cape rallying debut in 2019.

The only lady driver to have ever won a Witzenberg Motorklub Gymkhana overall, Nashrene Schloss, returned in her now 2.0 powered Toyota Corolla Sprinter Twin Cam and with Louise Appelgryn as navigator they topped the ladies only category in seventh place overall. Sporting some light front end damage the ladies were clearly giving it everything they had. Karting talent, Jonathan Thomas, and Ethan Paulsen also delivered a great performance en route to eighth overall in the class G Mini Cooper S Works Turbo 2.0. In fact, the event would prove to have the greatest variety of Mini’s ever present in a single Western Cape event. Nashrene Schloss and Duncan Andrews added ninth spot to their tally as class A entrants in the Toyota Corolla Sprinter Twin Cam 2.0.

Günther and Louise Appelgryn completed the top ten positions in the always immaculately prepared Spiderman class B VW Golf MkI 1.8. Nashrene Schloss have become a regular entry in the Makita Supercars category whilst Günther Appelgryn finds himself in the Shatterfix Fine Cars series, just more than a second separating the two after four runs.

Johann Zulch and Cobus Viola once again proved incredibly competitive in their 1990 Ceres Toyota backed class E winning BMW E30 325iM. Eleventh overall in this company certainly showed that the rally veteran is still more than capable of playing with the youngsters.

Possibly the most impressive drive of the day came from Craig Harper and Jana Botha in the home grown class G Harper Type 5 2.5 as they were more than happy to drift the car around the tighter instructions. With the corners almost invisible to the driver and his navigator concentrating on video recording each run Craig demonstrated that his Alfa Romeo powered car is well sorted and balanced. Unfortunately his two fastest times happened on the same route, otherwise his 12th overall could so easily have been 3rd overall. Somehow, it may be expected that the Harper will be back in future.

For sheer good looks the class G Honda Civic Type R Turbo 2.0 of Shaheen and Ibraheem Amlay would have netted victory, but with almost zero ground clearance 13th overall was good going. (And it was ahead of his father!). One of the two finalists in the controversial 2018 VW Drivers search program Shaheen is also in action on the Western Cape Raly Championship in the Toyota Run X RSi 1.8 formerly campaigned by his father, Abduraghman.

Overberg residents, Riaan and Jackie Swart, joined in the proceedings with the mean sounding VW Jetta MkII 2.0 Turbo Clubmans racer and were well pleased with 14th position overall. Abdul Sayed and Leon Engelbrecht slotted into 15th spot overall in the neat class D Toyota Tazz 1.3. This car originally built for track racing, but then Abdul discovered gymkhana driving. Now he must just remember to fill the tank before starting!

Jean and Lenie Boetzkes made their debut in the ex-Hennie Odendaal class C VW Golf MkI 1.6 and they celebrated with a class victory and 16th spot overall. Anton Smit and Tania Vermaak looked as though they were struggling to find their rhythm but finished the day as the Most Consistent combination (fastest times split by just 0.19seconds), seventeenth overall and first in class F in the popular 1.6 Toyota powered Nissan LDV.

Roy Gruer and Andrew de Bruin were getting more confident with each run in the impressive class G Mercedes C63 AMG and 18th overall was a fair reflection of their day whilst Abduraghman Amlay and Yusuf Ganief enjoyed being back in action again with their class G Mini Cooper S 1.6. Their presence certainly motivating that Civic!

Hennis van Zyl challenged himself by entering two cars, each navigated by one of his son’s and it was the Kelso van Zyl entry in the class F Toyota GT86 2.0 that managed 20th overall. Leon Engelbrecht and Hishaam Firfirey drove like 21 year old’s to 21st place in the lively B13 Rotary powered L&M Automotive Performance class G BMW E30 318i. For sheer sound and appearance on route this car certainly gained great support from the spectators.

André Smit and Natasha de Jager drove their standard class C VW Golf MkI 1.6 to 22nd overall and 2nd in class with Hennis van Zyl claiming 23rd sport with Luca van Zyl navigating the neat Birkin 7 1.6. The youngster not happy with his father after their fastest time was spoiled sliding across the stop line! Edward Black and Hamilton Goode 24th overall in yet another derivation of the Mini, this a GP Works 1.6.

The 1948 class F MG TD 1.6 lookalike of Michael van As and Mbongeni Moya another crowd favourite in 25th spot overall whilst Werner Venter and Chinelle Calitz finished their tail sliding outing in 26th spot with their class F Mazda MX5 1.6 Miata. Godfrey Scheepers and Anthony Meyer managed a few deliveries enroute to 27th spot in their standard class D Opel Corsa Uitility 1.4.

Burly Pro GTi Challenge racer, Jade Lynch, contested the WPMC All Tar Rally earlier this year and with Dane Wyatt navigating the class A VW Polo Classic 2.0 added 28th overall in the Heritage Day Gymkhana to it’s 2018 resumé. Vernon and Tristan Galp 29th overall in their attractive class G Mini Cooper John Cooper Works Coupé 1.6. Finding the correct route slowing their progress on the day.

Hilton Africa and Eric Bezuidenhout did not have the greatest of events in their AutoZone class C VW Fox 1.6 when the car broke it’s gearbox on the opening run. They replaced the box and spent the day catching up to eventually claima somewhat frustrating 30th spot overall. Liezel Oosthuizen and Tania Vermaak 31st overall in their absolutely standard class I Toyota Yaris 1.3 with Aviv Gruer and Travis Goode 32nd overall in yet another Mini, theirs a Cooper S Works 1.7.

Dylan Steenkamp and Tamryn Brown found the navigation of the routes challenging and once they develop a better understanding in the car their 33rd spot overall will certainly improve as the class F Toyota GT86 certainly looked quicker on track. Michael van As and Matthew Agnaouy entertained aboard their three wheeling Wildebeest Club Landrover Series 3 V8 4.6 and they soon became known as team Wobble.

Byron Hite and Tania Vermaak also suffered from the completely standard, under powered, frustration on the oval but enjoyed driving their class D Toyota Tazz 1.3 to 35th overall. Carin Roos and Faid Sahabobien showed great progress in their impressive class G Mercedes C63 AMG Coupé. Benefitting from a second non scoring entry this little lady improved by some 25seconds as the day progressed. They would complete their debut gymkhana in 36th overall.

Undoubtedly the crowd favourite Clint Kirkwood and Reggie Gilbert entertained in their CK Auto 2.0 Subaru powered Pipe-Car. Another of the Wildebeest 4x4 Club entries they lifted wheels, everywhere, en route to 37th spot overall. Jacques Liebenberg and Riaan Swart driving a little more conservatively in their Wildebeest Nissan Patrol V8 to claim 38th overall. Curt Lottring and Björn Voigt 39th on debut in their standard VW Golf Velocity MkI 1.4i with the final classified finishers Hamilton and Travis Goode 40th in their entertaining 3.5 Mitsubishi Pajero 4x4.

Nashrene Schloss claimed top honours in class H as single seater entry with the Toyota Corolla Sprinter Twin Cam 2.0 with Sean Pretorius second in his neat BMW E46 M3 and Byron Hite third in the stock standard Toyota Tazz 1.3.

Thank you to Abdul Sayed who became the driving force behind the scenes and his invaluable assistants who set up the two individual course layouts. Many moons ago Willy Learmonth raced as Team Effort. Fantastic to be able to prove the value of Team Effort with this Gymkhana! RacePics dropped in for un unexpected visit with Ryno Gelderblom and even Marius & Leatitia Bester were present.

Great to have had most of the original WBMK Gymkhana team on hand at this event with Neville Gleeson and André Mitchell behind the Jayen Timer and Scoring whilst Mama Bear, Anette Vermaak, spent her day chasing information. Documentation in the capable hands of Anette Vermaak and Meghan Nortjé whilst Carmen Nortjé and Nelmarie Mitchell did a sterling job as Judges of Fact. Lane A had Dewald Nortjé staying busy whilst Meghan Nortjé had Lane B for company. Faid Sahabobien assisting with the Scurtineering whilst the ever present eye of MSA Steward, Robert Marle, kept everyone alert. Pierre van der Westhuizen the Clerk of the Course.

A sincere thank you to the Western Province Motor Club (Des Easom, Paul Simon and everyone else behind the scenes) for the opportunity. A few valuable lessons were learnt and will be addressed. It would however be fair to conclude that the event was extremely well supported and that the interest shown merits every effort to see the Gymkhana Championship return in 2019.

Watch this space!