Winners Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson in their class A7 BP Volkswagen Racing Golf 4 were on a charge and drove a hard rally. Kuun/Hodgson had their share of problems. A puncture in stage three on day one cost them a minute. This didn't affect the duo too much as their other stage times were fast and gave them a 15 seconds (1 minute loss included) advantage over their next rivals for the start of day two. However, the cancellation of stage three shrank their lead to 6 seconds. Asked why stage three was cancelled, Clerk of the Course Ross Andrew explained that locals interfering with route markers caused unrealistic times to be clocked. The standard production class N2 Toyota Corolla of Etienne du Toit/Patrick Vermaak set the fastest time for stage three as opposed to the more powerful modified VW Golf 4 of Kuun/Hodgson. When asked if he is going to make the Toyota Dealer Rally in Cape Town a hat trick win, Kuun said he hopes so, but will see what happens. Kuun won the final rally in Tzaneen last year.
The retirement of Serge Damseaux/Robert Paisley in their class S2000 Team Castrol Toyota RunX took pressure off the top runners. Damseaux/Paisley who was in the lead, bowed out after stage three with a broken throttle body. Prior to the rally, Damseaux said that he hasn't done any mileage in the car. Though his BP Volkswagen Racing counterparts Kuun/Hodgson and Jannie Habig/Douglas Judd in last year's Golf 4 are in class A7, he doesn't think this gives him the advantage to capitalise on points in Class S2000 before Kuun and Habig joins the ranks. He said they have the reliable cars, whereas the RunX is new to the game. Kuun/Hodgson are expected to join Class S2000 at the Total SA Rally, which is the third round of the SASOL SA Rally Championship series.
Second overall was Johnny Gemmell/Martie Olivier in their Class N4 L&J Plants Mitsubishi EVO 7. Gemmell who had a rough season last year was delighted and said that he hopes 2005 will be better. Returning from an extended absence in 2004, Fernando Rueda/Martin Botha in their N4 Mitsubishi EVO 8 finished third overall. Cape Town based Rueda who is known for his no holds barred driving pushed all the way. Where in sticky parts of the route other competitors took a conservative approach, Rueda took the bull by the horns. It was a disappointing start for Jan Habig/Douglas Judd in their A7 BP Volkswagen Racing Golf 4 who finished fourth. The pair suffered a flat tyre that cost them 15 seconds. They set the fastest times in stages two and eight, but his rivals were stronger in the others.
Richard Behm/Grant St Clair in their N4 SASOL Mitsubishi EVO 6 came fourth. Behm said that he is going for the top in 2005. If the comparison of their stage times as opposed to their rivals is anything to go by, then Behm/St Clair is a team to watch. Overall, they were 10 seconds off the pace of Habig/Judd.
Further in Class S2000 Team Total's Etienne Lourens/André Vermeulen in their Toyota RunX RSi didn't start the rally. The car wouldn't start for which a baffled Lourens had no explanation. Sporting the WRC bid logo on their Topcar BMW 320i, Cliff Blackman/Johan Klaasen were the only competitors remaining in this class after day one, but a broken diff put an end to their hope of class points in stage ten.
Class A7 who started with 11 competitors was the hardest hit by the unforgiving route. Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries in their BP Volkswagen Racing Golf 4 retired after the cambelt fell off and bent the valves. Fekken set the fastest times in stages five and six. 2004 Class A7 champions Jean Pierre Damseaux/Cobus Vrey in their Team Total ex Serge Damseaux RunX had a bout of misfortunes. Damseaux/Vrey clipped a bank went off the road and got stuck. They managed to get out and continued but lost 20 minutes which in rally time is hard if not impossible to catch up. Damseaux/Vrey hit a bump and rolled putting them out of competition. Neither was injured. Just to prove that rolling doesn't necessarily put you out of a rally; Jose Ferreira/Irma du Plooy in their Team Italian Subaru WRX continued to finish 22nd after a roll in stage eight. New to class A7, Stephan van Dyk/Mark Pym in their ex Fekken VW Polo overshot in stage two and found themselves stuck in the sugar cane field. 13 other cars followed suit and couldn't get out until assistance arrived.
Class N4 had the most competitors finish the rally. This is where four-wheel drive came in handy. Jacques Botha/Greg Gericke in their Subaru Impreza finished sixth overall followed by Japie van Niekerk/Johan Sieling in their Mitsubishi EVO 8. Nicolas Ryan/Brian Carrihill in their Bosal Subaru WRX STi had a very frustrating rally. Ryan said they could have finished higher had it not been for a time penalty of nine minutes after stage two. Ryan/Carrihill assisted stranded Van Dyk/Pym in their Volkswagen Polo to put out a fire that came as a result of the heat on the sugar cane beneath the stuck car. Rules state that when a competitor is off route they get a time penalty regardless assisting another competitor.
In class N3 Rodney Visagie/Carolyn Swan in their Team Total Toyota RunX finished ninth overall and first in class followed by newcomers Claudio Piazza Musso/Janine Labuschagne in their SASOL Toyota RunX who finished tenth overall and second in class. Chris de Wit/Patrick Yende in their Team Total Toyota RunX finished third in class. For Cape Town based father and son team Jon and Doug Williams in their Gijima Toyota RunX this was a rally they'd soon want to forget. The Williams' found themselves out of the rally in stage two when they wrong slotted and got stuck. They were well on the heels of Visagie/Swan.
Rally legend Schalk Burger was there to give son Schalk Burger Jr advice and tips. Burger JR/Wimpie van Greunen in their Toyota Corolla won Class A6 followed by Richard and Natasha Vaughan in their Toyota Conquest.
Aggie Stroh/Jurg Steyn in their Toyota Corolla won Class N2. Stroh overshot twice in stage six, but held the lead. Mike Nathan/Rikus Smith in their AWI Toyota Corolla pushed to catch up with Stroh/Steyn and settled for second. Etienne du Toit/Patrick Vermaak in their Toyota Corolla RSi finished third in class after starting 37th to finish 15th overall. For his efforts and performance 21 year old du Toit who is a privateer got the Rally Star award. This is his second year in rally and his first under national status.
Nkosinathi Nzimande/Gerhard Snyman in their BP Volkswagen Racing Golf won class A5 followed by Tjaart Conradie/Jaco Purchase in their Toyota Tazz.
Competitors are already preparing for the Somerset West Motor Club organised Toyota Dealer Rally that runs in Cape Town April 8 and 9.
Original article from Car