With two victories on the trot, and with lady luck shining on us, we were looking for our third win in a row in our class A5 Sasol DualFuel Chico at the Volkswagen Rally. Sadly, it was not to be.
The previous week I had spent a great weekend at the Mini Nation Durban Street race as a participant in the “I’ll be back” Terminator car. The experience was a blast and the after-party was great. I ended up leaving early, after I received an invitation to go cruising in the harbour with mates in a yacht in the company of some beautiful ladies (a perk of being a racing driver). However, this lovely experience left me with a flu bug that put me flat on my back for three days. After seeing the doctor on the Monday and getting a bag of pills, I did not get rid of the bug in time for the rally.
Needless to say, Friday morning I started the rally with a tight chest and fever. At drivers’ briefing I informed all my class A5 competitors to take advantage of my sickness, of which only Rodney Visagie took up the challenge. After just 4 stages we were lying 2nd in class out of strong field of 10. We struggled with shock problems when the rear left spring gave way. Its was promptly replaced, but going into the long 24km stage in the Longmore forests early in the evening, we found the car very unstable due to the rear shock, this time giving way. During the dinner break, we fixed and replaced the shock for the 2 super special stages at Aldo Scribante and Kings Beach 1.6 km course.
At the Aldo Scribante race track we went head to head with two other cars in Class A6. Our little 1.4 Class A5 Chico came out tops thanks to my former track racing experience and now better handling car. By the end of the evening we were living comfortably in 2nd place to Visagie, who took advantage of me being sick and our “shocking” problem earlier.
Day 2 was to be a challenge. We had a deficit of a one-minute to make up to Rodney with five long dirt stages averaging 25 km each. I knew a win could be pulled off and began to eat into his lead early. After 3 stages we had taken 38 second from Rodney when we developed a fuel surge problem in stage 9. Sadly this was to cost us a possible win on the Volkswagen Rally.
My team tried to rectify the situation at service and replaced the fuel pump, but in the 29km long stages, the problem reared its head again with the car feeling as though it got hiccups and, with just 1 km to the end of the stage, we lost all engine power and had the temperature gage sitting on the red and the oil pressure flashing like an ambulance emergency light. We managed to make it to the service area, one cylinder firing.
We changed the spark plugs for the second time and had to settle for 2nd place in class as we tried to nurse our sickly car back home. On a positive note, we bagged points and are now second in the championship behind Rodney Visagie who is just 4 points ahead. I did, however, tell Rodney, that he was lucky I was sick and that my car was not too well either, but assured him that next rally, which is the MotorPics Mountain Trial (16 August), I will be better and stronger and am getting ready to give him a good run for his money in the remaining three rounds of the Sasol DualFuel SA Rally Championship.
For further news on Gugu Zulu’s rally campaign visit www.guguzulu.co.za or www.sasolmotorsport.co.za. Free photographic is available at www.motorpics.co.za.
Original article from Car