Preview Darling Rally

It is somehow fitting to see the second oldest motor club in South Africa organise the fourth round of the Western Cape Rally Championship scheduled for Saturday 7 July 2018. Back the 18th century some 29 farmers lived in an area named Groenkloof and the town of Darling was eventually established on the farm Langfontein in 1853. No, I am not a historian of note, you are welcome to find all this information on Wikipedia.

Sir Charles Henry Darling arrived as the Cape Lieutenant General in 1851 and then two Swedish settlers, Nils Georg Moller and G. Threnstrom established the Darling creamery in 1899, which lasted till 1950. From 1917 the annual Darling Wildflower show is hosted by the Darling Wildflower Society, making this 100 year old flower show something really special. In 1901 Veldcornet C.P. Hildebrand (from Lichtenburg, Transvaal) of the Maritz Commando was buried near Darling and in 1939 a granite needle monument was erected to commemorate the most southern penetration by a commando during the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War.

The Cape Peninsula Motorcycle Club was established in 1910 (cars were still something of a novelty at the time) and then became the Cape Peninsula Motorcycle and Car Club in 1920. Officially the oldest Car club in the Western Cape and 2nd oldest in South Africa their then 160 members hosted their first event as a 100mile regularity (at an average speed of 16mph) on 5 August 1912. (Would have loved to have seen a Model T sideways with a set of mud & snow tyres). Can you imagine what satarist Pieter Dirk Uys would do with this remark as Evita Bezuidenhout at Evita se Perron, just down the road in Darling?

In 1913 CPMCC utilised their club finances of 101 pounds 5 shillings to acquire a powerful electromagnet that was mounted on a cart and driven through the streets prior to events to pick up old nails and horse shoes which were causing punctures! Legendary motorsport personalities such as former SA Land Speed record holder, Vic Proctor Snr, and Henry “Fireworks” Pheiffer (father of Adrian Pheiffer) were members of CPMCC. Since 2000 CPMCC have been a fixture at the Killarney International Raceway and the likes of Bill Bright and Robert Marle (CPMCC resident historian) can still be found promoting motorsport!

Ok, it is another event in the Swartland, but no other area in the Swartland can claim to have hosted a squadron of Lockheed B34 Ventura aircraft. 23 Squadron arrived at the Darling airfield in 1943 to assist in combatting the German U Boat menace and were involved in the eventual 11 March 1944 sinking of the 50 crew Tosi Taranto built Italian Luizzi class diesel electric Alpino Attilio Bagnolini Regia Marina submarine utilized by the German Kriegsmarine as UIT 22 off the Cape of Good Hope by No 262 Squadron RAF Consolidated PBY Catalina FP 279/D, piloted by Fl Lt Roddick as part of Operation Wicketkeeper.

Work on a new iron hangar started on 31 January 1944, on 12 April 1944 Ventura 6457 of 27 Squadron crashed into Dassenberg near Darling with the loss of six lives (the wreck recovered by 22 Sqn Puma 145 on 12 April 1988 – 44 years later) and then the Catalina’s ironically left Darling for Mtubatuba on 25 August 1944. The“Somersveld” runway  becoming an emergency landing strip for nearby Langebaanweg. Records also show that Spitfire 5673 was the 8th type MkIX lost, near Darling, on 14 March 1951. On 8 November 1995 the first Pilatus Astra was lost over Somersveld when 2022 and 2018 made contact during a formation practice and on 17 October 1996 Astra 2054 made an almost perfect “emergency” landing on the gravel road just outside Darling.

And you thought this was just another fast asleep little “dorpie” in the Swartland district! Even the national off road championship Nissan 400 was hosted around the Darling Country Club for a number of years and the event also ran under the auspices of the 108 year old Cape Peninsula Motorcycle and Car Club. Now the fourth round of the 2018 Western Cape Rally Championship takes competitors in the strongest regional rally championship back to the Darling district on Saturday 7 July 2018.

The town of darling is 167 years old this year and the defending champions in the Western Cape, Ettiene du Toit and Patrick Vermaak, will be present in the Team 467 WBMK S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6 to take on the big guns. As members of the Witzenberg Motorklub (1983 – 35 Years) they will be keen to return to form having dominated the 2017 season. However, realistically the more than welcome recent rain should favour the more powerful 4x4 entries with respect to traction and power as the wet surface saps power from the lesser powered 1.6 front wheel driven cars.

Father and son John and Weston Peiser opened their account well with overall victory on the iKapa Reticulation & Flow Rally Overberg in their very well prepared and consistent Speed Pro Cycling Components 425 WPMC S5 Subaru Impreza GT 4x4 Turbo 2.0. Incidently this was the very first Subaru to be used in South African rallying and not only have they succeeded in winning multiple WC titles, they remain the team to beat. Swakopmund based businessman, Oswaldo Mendes, have become a household member of the Witzenberg Motorklub and with local Safety Note master, Kesevan Naidoo, in the suicide seat of the Skyway / Riverside Equestrian Centre 129 WBMK / CCMCC S5 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 4x4 Turbo 2.0 he has now become the very first Witzenberg Motorklub driver to top the regional drivers seeding list. Then Llewellyn Jones and Christophé Pichon must be odds on favourites for victory in their ex-Klaassen CEJ Plant Hire 434 CPMCC S5 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 4x4 Turbo 2.0 having won both the REACT Night Rally Swartland and the Ceres Toyota Rally. In fact they have a 100% winning record as they have only done two events in the car and share the current points log lead! 

Ismaeel Davids and Yusuf Ganief proving to be something of a find in 2018 with consistency the name of the game in the ID Paving 431 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6 and their pace is improving with each event. From nowhere to sharing the points lead after three events certainly worthy of praise. Batting way above their weight limit the third placed combination also deserve much accolades as the driver is a spritely 70 years young (this is his 50th year as rally driver having started with an 875cc Mini in the UK) whilst his navigator is 23 years old and in just her second season as navigator in the venerable 2004 (14 seasons) AHS Racing 432 CPMCC / WBMK Mitsubishi Lancer GT1600. By all accounts this have never been considered the ideal rally car in terms of power and handling, but Andy Haigh-Smith and Tania Vermaak have certainly struck up a great working relationship in the “Yellow Submarine” that will serve them well for the balance of the 2018 WC Rally Championship. On 47 points they are just three behind the leading duo! Oh, did we mention that Andy was born in 1947!

Do not expect John and Weston Peiser to stay in fourth spot (46) on points with their Scoobie and neither would Ettiene du Toit and Patrick Vermaak be satisfied with their current fifth position overall in the Team 467 Toyota Corolla. Tariq Khatib and Faiz Idas have also proven impressive to date in their very low budget Isaac Motors 412 CCMCC S2 VW Golf MkI 1.6 and their consistency will also be paying dividends later in the season. John and Derick Clift another father and son combination that have proven that consistency pays in their ACW Engineering 418 WBMK S4 Toyota Hilux 2.0. John started rallying in the early seventies as navigator for amongst others a deaf driver – now he claims he does not have to listen to his navigator son?

Competitors representative, Julian Calvert, and Marius Rudolph will be back in Lulu, the Team 409 CCMCC / WBMK S3 VW Golf MkII GTi 2.0 8v and they currently share eighth spot on 25 points with Paul Emmanuel and Michelle Taylor in their 449 CCMCC / CPMCC S4 VW Polo 2.0 16v. Keenan Sassman and Clint Lingeveldt certainly hold much more potential than their current tenth position in their Howard Centre 413 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6i. Undoubtedly the quickest combination in the category they are finally starting to shake the bad luck gremlins and they should challenge for overall victory in Darling.

Riyaan Amlay and Ibraheem Amlay another who have been finding more consistency in their Ramlay Builders 433 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6i, but it is Darren van Greunen and Quinton Swarts that have the S3 regulars most concerned in their impressive 415 WBMK S3 Toyota Run X 1.6i. Definitely a team to watch in the future as they are proving to be both fast and consistent. Mustapha Mia and Ameen Snell impressed in the Ramlay Builders 456 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6i normally campaigned by Riyaan Amlay.

Ebrahim Amlay and Ameen Snell have also impressed with great results in their Amlays Motorsport 420 CCMCC S4 Toyota Tazz 1.8i. This team supported by friends and family and despite running a shoestring budget their determination serves them extremely well. Newcomer Erin Joshua and Dylan Timmes enjoyed an encouraging debut in their ex-André George 462 CCMCC S3 Toyota Tazz 1.6i and look destined to achieve better results in future.

Shaheen Amlay showed great promise on the opening event of the year but the Amlays Motorsport 401 CCMCC S4 Toyota Run X RSi 1.8i blew it’s engine on the final stage of the event and since then his navigator Matthew Köhler made his debut as driver of his own CCMCC S1 VW Golf MkI 1.4i. Trevor Hodges and Ian Thebus certainly have the pace to run with everyone, but reliability hampers the progress of the orange CCMCC 421 S4 VW Golf MkIII GTi 2.0 16v whilst Faizel Davids and Terry Croy also find themselves battling to finish in their Xtreme Builders 422 CCMCC S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1.6i. Possibly the most welcomed return has to be the Howard Centre Motors 428 CCMCC S4 Nissan Skyline 2.8 GTX of Winston Neethling and Lyle Marais and just the thought of hearing the cry of this ex-Hannes Grobler machine in the Swartland should have the spectator numbers double.

The Darling Rally is scheduled to start and finish at the popular Darling Country Club with the numbers function scheduled for 21h00 Thursday 28 June 2018 at the well known CPMCC Rollbar at the Killarney International Raceway.

For more information see www.wbmk.co.za