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Rosario “Sonny” Bonafede and Ralph Behm became the very first Regional Sport Champions, of any sporting code in South Africa when they won the 1964 Western Province Regional Rally Championship in their Simca 1000. Back then the Royal Automobile Club controlled South African motorsport and they donated the respective RAC Driver and RAC Navigators silverware whilst the Rally Controls Group added the Bennie Truter Floating Trophies.

Season 60 started on Saturday 2 March 2024 with a six stage event in the popular Porterville district and though a minimum entry was received the event still attracted a fair spectator presence in extremely dry and hot conditions. Normally associated with green wheatfields and water crossings the area seemed almost alien at the end of summer.

Arriving early at SS2 with the call of a Fish Eagle certainly set the atmosphere and being able to hear the cars approach from some distance really special, the only disappointment was the fact that four teams had already retired in SS1. Not the first time the sport have faced tough times and hopefully healthy numbers will soon return.

Llewellyn Jones and Christophé Pichon looked supreme in the 434 CPMCC S5 CJ Plant Hire Subaru Impreza WRC STi 2.0 Turbo 4×4 as they disappeared over the gravel runway with an impressive rooster tail of dust. Never one to cut corners and always neat in getting those four wheel grappling for grip a rare error saw them slide just wide of a sandy corner, beaching the Scoobie on SS3.
Shaun Jones and Jason Thorpe did not even make it through SS1 before their 424 CPMCC S5 Advanced Asphalting Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2.0 Turbo 4×4 expired. Owen Jones and Aden Bredenkamp completed SS2 before their 454 CPMCC S5 Somerset Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2.0 Turbo 4×4 put a leg out of bed.

Warren Scholtz and David Stigling looked promising through SS2 but their 444 CPMCC S5 Cape Station Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2.0 Turbo 444 developed s slight electrical problem when a conrod vented the engine block and damaged the alternator ie it stopped working!

However, the very first Subaru to ever rally in South Africa, not only proved reliable, it managed to win three stages to record the fastest total time of the day and win Class S5 in the hands of debutant winners. Cousins, Shaheen Amlay and Yusuf Amlay, went off twice at the very same instruction the ex-John Peiser (4x WP Rally Drivers Champion) 402 CCMCC S5 Subaru Impreza GT 2.0 Turbo 4×4 netted the opening round of the 2024 Class S5 Regional Championship.

Benjamin Johnson and Christoff Löttering enjoyed a steady day to record victory in Class S3 with their 468 CPMCC S3 VW Polo 6R 2.0 8v. A broken left CV cost them valuable time in SS2, but the team is certainly starting to make the presence of that Ostrich feather count. They would record the 3rd fastest total time for the day.

Second fastest accumulated time of the day going to veteran Johann Zulch and Petra Zulch in the 439 WPMC S2 Ceres Toyota 1980 Ford Escort 1600 Sport. Currently the only S2 team in the local championship the new regulations all but eliminate any recognition of this class for the season and they scored 0 points on the day.

Johann Zulch have been rallying a Ford Escort 1600 Sport since 1987 (37 years), have won five regional class championships and only Serge Damseaux has scored more points than him as driver. Always one of the least powerful cars present his success was due to neat preparation and determined driving. Often placing this car in positions nobody thought possible this was the first time that he claimed second fastest on accumulated times for an event.

And did we mention that he does not utilise the Safety Notes of the modern era, they rally on the traditional Tulip Notes of old. The only uncomfortable incident a battery bracket that broke loose leaving the battery to move around in the boot on the final stage.
2nd in Class S3 and fourth on accumulated times going to the final classified finishers of the day. As always the consistent combination of Julian Calvert and Nick Knights enjoyed another successful outing in their Liewe Lulu 409 CPMCC S3 VW Golf III GTi 2.0 8v.

Trevor Hodges and Ian Thebus lost fourth gear on their 421 CCMCC S3 VW Golf III GTi 2.0 and the long gravel runway on SS4 possibly saw the rpm live in the red too long as they also finished the day with a ventilated block.

The 459 CPMCC S4 BMW E36 328i of Gareth Vernon and Marius Rudolph retired on SS1 with a broken crank sensor whilst Kesevan Naidoo and Mikyle Naidoo had to park their 410 CCMCC S3 Freigthmore Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 with terminal overheating problems enroute to SS1.

Thank you to every Landowner, Sponsor, Official and Supporter. No matter how big or small and in no particular order thank you to Coastal Hire, Johnson Building & Construction, Die Hollandse Motor Specialist, Goeie Hoop Onderdele, CEJ Plant Hire, KSD, Dynamic Plant Solutions, KC Tyres, Subaru and Porterville Tourism.

Round 1 & 2 of the South African Rally Championship is now scheduled for 12-13 April 2024 in the Swartland and will incorporate Rounds 2 & 3 of the Western Cape Championship.

Published by: Patrick Vermaak

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