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Chris Coertse and Carolyn Swan enjoyed a debut success as new combination when their Rally Technic 2 NRC1 Mazda 2 took overall victory on round 1 of the 2024 South African Rally Championship in the Swartland on Friday 12 April 2024. Their car certainly did not sound healthy through SS1 and it showed in the times but their second attempt on the De Grendel stage certainly proved impressive.

Traditionally the second to last round of the South African Rally Championship would be scheduled for September in the Swartland, complete with the extremely popular Gnats “Muggies” that would attempt to eat one alive. The wheatfields beautiful, normally quite sunny – or extremely wet and slippery.

April in the Swartland shows why it is called the Swartland and conditions are dry, roads are extremely hard with a fine layer of dust on top to keep crews wide awake. This is normally nearing the end of the windy season but any wind welcomed in order to keep the billowing dust from becoming a roadblock on the stages and the only real good news was that no wheat on the land meant that crews could actually risk removing their balaclavas between stages.

This was post pandemic, September had become April and CPMCC changed to CCMCC, a single extremely testing event over two days had become a sprint event on consecutive days with bonus points. Regional entries welcomed as part of the event and the encouraging news that Toyota would be officially return to the sport of rallying. Not yet perfect, but national rallying was back in the Western Cape.

Mandla Mdakane and Kesevan Naidoo opening their score with second place on the national with the 21 NRC1 GR Toyota Starlet. Teammates Jono van Wyk and Nico Swarts in the 16 NRC1 GR Toyota Starlet failing to finish the event despite winning two stages outright.

Eastern Cape visitors, Neels Vosloo and Rikus Fourie, somehow also seemed to be nursing their Hella 545 NRC4 Volkswagen Polo, but managed to hang on for third national team home. Their new Hella colourscheme certainly making this one of the most attractive cars on the event and brought back many memories of the Twiss family in action over many seasons and in many different cars.

They were followed home by husband and wife Anton and Isabel Raaths in their 210 NRC4 Pretoria Noord Toyota Run X and the popular East London based Ocean Trucks / Petrefuel 577 NRC5 “Dealer Team” Toyota Corolla RWD of Oliver de Man and Ingrid Jeacocks the final national classified finishers.

Llewellyn Jones and Christophé Pichon topped the regional result in their Fawesum Rally Team / CEJ Plant Hire 434 S5 Subaru Impreza WRX 2.0 Turbo 4×4 but lost loads of time on SS2 and SS3 when a turbo pipe removed itself. If is always involved in motorsport, but if they had a clean run they could well have proven the overall victors on stage times. Cousins, Shaheen and Yusuf Amlay, impressed with another consistent run to be the second regional team home in their Amlay’s Motorsport 402 S5 Subaru Impreza GT 2.0 Turbo 4×4 and completing the regional podium was Shaun Jones and Jason Thorpe in their Fawesum Rally Team / Advanced Asphalting Subaru Impreza WRX 2.0 Turbo 4×4. The latter duo taking things easy as they were still running in their new engine.

Keenan Sassman and Weston Peiser impressed with a clean run to fourth place in their Howard Centre Motors 413 S4 BMW E36 328i and they were followed home by Benjamin Johnson and Christoff Löttering in their Johnson Building and Construction Group 468 S3 Volkswagen Polo. A good enough effort that would have seen them take a class win on the national, but their Polo would be retired before starting Saturday.

Swartland based Cobus Edas and Carl Peskin happy to bring their Suzuki Malmesbury / Harkers Automotive 464 S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 home in sixth spot with husband and wife, Johann and Petra Zulch, seventh overall in their Ceres Toyota 439 S2 Ford Escort MkII 1600 Sport. Julian Calvert and Nicholas Knights eighth overall in Liewe Lulu 409 S3 Volkswagen Golf MkIII GTi 2.0.
Finishing their first event in ninth spot overall had Pete Isaacs and Mikyle Naidoo in high spirits in their 471 S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 and Gareth Vernon and Marius Rudolph the final classified finishers in their tenth placed acciDent Guru / Shatterfix 459 S4 BMW E36 328i.

Owen Jones and Aden Bredenkamp certainly did not have a happy day in their Fawesum Rally Team / Subaru Somerset West 454 S5 Subaru Impreza WRX 2.0 Turbo 4×4, posting calender times on SS1 and SS3 and eventually finding themselves disqualified.
Inus du Plessis and Piet Carinus also having a rough day in the Coastal Tool Hire 461 S5 BMW E36 330i. Breaking a driveshaft in SS2 their returned under SR rules, but clearly not in their normal stride. Father and son, Winston and Matthew Neethling, had the ex-Hannes Grobler 428 S5 Nissan Sentra STi 2.0 4×4 sounding lively but a strange noise in the rear had them withdrawing after SS2 – only to discover an errant piece of scrap metal in a calliper. They were running without a service crew and could only investigate after having withdrawn from the event.

Erin Joshua and Ibraheem Amlay were running consistently and cautiously in their P&P Engineering / We Buy Cars 462 S3 Toyota Conquest RSi 1600 until an on board electrical fire forced their early retirement from the event. Tyler and Terry Croy unfortunate to have the engine in their CTG Auto 447 S3 Toyota Corolla RXi 1600 cry enough after just two stages whilst Warren Scholtz and David Stigling was even less fortunate with a single stage completed in their Vape Station 444 S5 Subaru Impreza WRX 2.0 Turbo 4×4.

Shaheen and Yusuf Amlay the real winners as they consolidated their S5 points lead with another solid result and the ever consistent combinations of Johann and Petra Zulch and Julian Calvert / Nicholas Knights. Benjamin Johnson and Christoff Löttering also heading for a strong points haul, but their car would e withdrawn before the Saturday start with engine problems.
The Killarney International Raceway special stages always popular with spectators and it was encouraging to note a good spectator following everywhere. Delays are difficult to communicate to spectators and that was a frustration on the opening day.

Published by: Patrick Vermaak

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