The BP Volkswagen Rally Team will contest the Natal Rally in 3 Golf 4 rally cars competing in Class A7. The cars, driven by multiple SA Champion Jan Habig, Enzo Kuun and Hergen Fekken are a temporary measure while the Port Elizabeth based team readies its Super 2000 cars for the Cape Rally in April.
While entering at least one Super 2000 car would have been ideal, Volkswagen motorsport manager Andre van der Watt says his team did not want to rush into the first rally with cars that are not ready and possibly spoil the rest of the season. "We have new rules in place, in a brand new formula designed to make the sport of rallying better, more economical and also exciting for the fans. To design and build new cars within a short space of time is no easy feat, hence the delay in introducing the new cars to real rally action. We will take our time in development and hopefully have fully competitive cars at the Cape Rally next month," said van der Watt.
Class A8 has been abolished in favour of Super 2000 in line with new FIA rules set to take effect across the world this season. South Africa is the first country to institute the new rules regimen.
Veteran driver and mulitiple SA champion Jan Habig says he is ready for the Natal Rally, even though he had become accustomed to the more powerful Class A8 over the years. "It's going to be a challenge for me, and competing at this level means being able to adapt to different situations all the time. Competing in Class A7 against fast all-wheel drive cars will pose an even more serious challenge especially if it rains as it usually does in this part of the world this time of the year," said Habig.
Kuun is also looking forward, but even more so to Super 2000. "The new formula will be very interesting. 4-wheel drive is a different kettle of fish to front-wheel drive, and I'm looking forward to it. For now we shall look for as much points as we can get in Class A7 before moving to the new class. Points scored count towards the drivers championship regardless of which class you compete in," said Kuun.
Fekken will be driving a Golf for the very first time, and while the car may be different to his Polos of the last four seasons, the engine is the same and in the same class. "Hopefully the car will not be too different to what I'm used to, although I'm looking forward to a new challenge with a new navigator Pierre Arries," added Fekken.
Arries re-joins the works team after a two-year absence. Previously he navigated for Enzo Kuun before Kuun teamed up with Guy Hodgson. Arries is also glad to be back. "Working for a dealership group that deals exclusively with Volkswagen means I am almost naturally in love with the brand. Doing this for any other brand is always difficult, but now I feel more at home. It's the right thing to do and I'm looking forward to calling the notes for a phenomenal driver like Hergen. We are obviously going to take some time getting used to one another but we are both experienced competitors so that should not take too long," stated Arries.
Completing the Volkswagen line-up is Nkosinathi Nzimande who also has a new navigator in Gerhard Snyman after parting ways with Derek Jacobs. Nzimande is the only driver in the line-up not to drive a different class or car to last season. He stays in A5 in a Volkswagen VeloCiTi. The Natalian is thrilled to be back in the fray after the off-season. "The break seemed too long and I was itching to get back into the thick of things. Doing so on my home event is especially exciting and I hope Gerhard and I will have a very good season, and win the championship," he concluded.
The Natal Rally starts in Durban on Friday.
Original article from Car