Some interesting and exciting innovations for this year’s rally season will be introduced when the Tour Natal Rally, opening round of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship, gets underway in Scottburgh, KwaZulu-Natal, in three weeks’ time, on Friday, 27th and Saturday, 28th February.
These innovations - aimed at adding more value to the rally spectacle and making it even more exciting for spectators - will include a “power stage” on the final day.
At the end of the stage a hot-seat area will be demarcated adorned with a couch, where competitors setting the fastest time for the stage will sit in waiting.
As the faster cars negotiate the stage and the stage times tumble, the crews setting the previous fastest time will move down the couch until literally being knocked off the bench. At the end, only the stage winners will remain on the couch.
According to deputy clerk of the course, Jimmy Dewar, the route for the “power stage’ is right next to the Scottburgh airport runway, so there will be ample parking and vantage points for spectators. “We will be running this stage three times during the course of Saturday, the final time as the power stage and to make it even more exciting there’s a spot in the stage where the cars will get airborne. Prizes and trophies will be awarded to the teams entertaining the crowds with the longest and most spectacular jump,” said Dewar.
Another change this year is that the participating crews will have two opportunities to investigate the route, ahead of the rally.
According to Richard Leeke, president of the National Rally Commission and clerk of the course for the Tour Natal Rally, rudimentary pace notes will be made available to competitors, but they will be allowed to do two reconnaissance runs before the event.
“This will give the crews enough opportunity to refine their pace notes for the event,” said Leeke. The top eight-seeded drivers in the two principle categories of the SA National Rally Championship – the four-wheel drive S2000 and the two-wheel drive S1600 class – will draw their starting positions for the event.
Dewar added that this year’s route for the Tour Natal Rally will be quite similar to last year’s with a centralised service park and the first three stages after the start at the Scottburgh Country Club to be repeated – for a total of six stages on day one.
On the second day another five special stages will be run on the fast loose gravel roads in the sugarcane farmlands of the South Coast for a total of 11 stages over a distance of approximately 400 kilometres.
“While entries only close at the end of this week we expect the crème of South African special stage rally teams to gather for the traditional opening round in the Scottburgh area of KwaZulu-Natal,” said Dewar.
Meanwhile, planning for the Sasol Rally, round two of the SA National Rally Championship and the Africa Rally Championship, is on track.
The event, to be run in its traditional hometowns of Sabie, Graskop, White River and Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, will also aim to entertain the fans with the spectacular and very popular Spaghetti Junction super special being run twice.
2015 South African Rally Championship Calendar:
|27 & 28 February||Tour Natal Rally||KZN|
|17 & 18 April||Sasol Rally||Mpumalanga|
|15 & 16 May||Secunda Motor Rally||Mpumalanga|
|19 & 20 June||Toyota Gauteng / Bela-Bela||Gauteng/Limpopo|
|17 & 18 July||Volkswagen Rally||Eastern Cape|
|14 & 15 August||Cullinan Rally||Gauteng|
|18 & 19 September||Toyota Cape Rally||Western Cape|
|16 & 17 October||Polokwane Rally||Limpopo|