Archive | 2011 Sasol South African Rally Championship

31 October 2011 ~ 0 Comments

2011 MTN Polokwane Rally podium finish for BP Volkswagen Polo team

After an unfortunate season, the BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000 South African rally team clinched a podium spot on the last event of the season, the MTN Polokwane Rally (21-23 October). Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries took third place at the event, after two days of tough competition. Reigning champions Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson recorded a third place finish overall for the year, meaning their Polo rally car will wear the number three in 2012. ‘We’ve reached a successful end to a very difficult year,’ said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Racing South Africa. ‘We’ve had to stretch the performance of our cars against the newest technology available from Europe, but the team rose to the challenge.’

‘The Junior and Privateer Volkswagen competitors did us proud this season, with Christoff and Celeste Snyders winning the Junior Championship, the Two-Wheel Drive Championship and the S1600 Championship (finishing in 13th place on the Polokwane stages), while Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray won the S1400 championship,’ says Rowe. ‘We’re looking forward to a very exciting season in 2012 with a new car in the mix.’ Verlaque and Auffray also took the S1400 class on the Polokwane event. Other Polo finishers included Nicholas Ryan and Armand du Toit in seventh.

The Polos of Giniel de Villiers and Ralph Pitchford, Jan Habig and Robert Paisley, Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson, and Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin did not finish. Overall victors of the Limpopo event were Leeroy Pouter and Elvene Coetzee in their Castrol and Innovation Group-backed Toyota Auris S2000. Finishing second, Team Sasol’s Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton won the 2011 South African Driver’s and Co-Driver’s Rally Championships in their Ford Fiesta S2000 – the first privateers in 45 years to do so. Volkswagen Racing South Africa are thought to be preparing a Polo 6R-based machine for the 2012 championship.

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28 September 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Western Cape Rally rewards Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson with a second place

The pairing of Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson took their BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000 home to a second place finish behind Conrad Rautenbach/Nicolas Klinger (S2000 Green Fuel Ford Fiesta) in the Western Cape Rally on 23-24 September, neatly placing them second in the championship leaderboard. The final round of the 2011 South African National Rally Championship will see them battle against Mark Cronje/Robin Houghton’s Ford Fiesta S2000, with both teams nine points behind the leaders, and 25 points up for grabs.

BP team mates Jan Habig/Robert Paisley came home 10th, three places ahead of Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries’ Polo, while the duo of Giniel de Villiers/Ralph Pitchford crashed out of the rally after striking a gatepost and tearing off their left rear wheel – their seventh retirement from eight rallies. Further down the field, Gugu Zulu/Carl Peskin only made two stages in their S1600 class Polo Vivo, while Megan Verlaque/Hilton Auffray lasted until the final stage of day one. Christoff Snyders/Celeste Snyders took the S1600 class win. The final round of the 2011 South African National Rally Championship is the Polokwane Rally on 22-23 October.

[Images: ledbitter@quickpic]

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29 August 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Grueling 2011 Garden Route Rally for BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000 team

Highly changeable weather on the two-day Garden Route Rally on 26-27 August threw many obstacles to the competitors, but the BP Volkswagen team survived the punishing event, overcoming many obstacles on the way. Damp weather on Friday gave way to sunny conditions on Saturday, and the nine-stage event saw the Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson car come home in fourth place, the highest-position Polo Vivo S2000. Giniel de Villiers and Ralph Pitchford finished one place behind Kuun/Hodgson, the defending series champions.

Other cars in the BP Volkswagen livery didn’t fare as well. Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries landed heavily after a yump, damaging their radiator in stage three. While the damage meant they could carry on, they had to retire at the end of the round. A tree stump on stage nine was the undoing of Jan Habig and Robert Paisley, damaging their rear suspension fatally. The S1600 class pairing of Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin were knocked out in stage eight when a cracked exhaust manifold lead to a burning engine mount. S1400 class competitors Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray had better luck, though, winning their class with their Polo Vivo and getting their new rallying partnership off to a flying start. The next round of the 2011 South African National Rally Championship is the Western Cape Rally on 22-23 September.

[Images: ledbitter@quickpic]

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23 July 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Top four finishes for BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000 team on home event

Two cars from the BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000 team finished in the top four places at last weekend’s (15-16 July) Volkswagen Rally. Highest-placed VW finishers on the Eastern Cape event were 2010 champions Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson, who crossed the line in third place after 12 gruelling stages. The Ford Fiesta S2000 of Mark Cronje/Robin Houghton won the event, with the Toyota Auris of Johnny Gemmell/Drew Sturrock took second. The Volkswagen Rally third place was, fittingly, Kuun/Hodgson’s third this season, and still puts them within reach of the 2011 championship, after the mid-way point of the season.

Below Kuun/Hodgson was the Polo Vivo S2000 of Jan Habig/Robert Paislay. Picking up a number of problems on the event – such as a broken exhaust – didn’t stop the duo, even though the mechanical maladies cost them precious time. Meanwhile, the Giniel de Villiers/Ralph Pitchford partnership picked up an eighth place finish on their maiden Volkswagen Rally. Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries were less lucky. A broken wheel forced them out from the event, just as their Polo was perched for a podium position. They slipped down the leaderboard to 15th.

It was a similar story for Gugu Zulu/Carl Peskin. Their Polo Vivo S1600 retired in the first stage, due to engine damage. On the flipside, Megan Verlaque/Lirene du Plessis celebrated a S1400 class victory and a top 15 finish, even after a puncture cost them time. Other Polo finishers on the 29th Volkswagen Rally which took place around the Longmore Forest, Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth, included the team of Nicholas Ryan/Armand du Toit who placed seventh. Round six of the South African National Rally Championship takes place in the George and Knysna area of the Garden Route in the Western Cape, on 26-27 August.

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18 June 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Mixed results for BP Volkswagen team on grueling Toyota Dealer Gauteng Rally

A grueling Toyota Dealer Gauteng Rally over 10-11 June produced solid if not spectacular results for the BP Volkswagen rally team. Championship defenders Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson finished third on the fourth round of the 2011 South African National Rally Championship, posting a second fastest time in the last stage of the event. Another safe performance was driven by Hergen Fekken/Pierre Aries, who came in fourth, after starting five places further down the field. Meanwhile, Jan Habig and Robert Paisley’s rally only lasted three stages. A control arm bolt in their rear suspension failed and the right wheel of their Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000 was dragged behind the car. Continuing with just three wheels for as long as they could, they had to call it a day after posting just two stage times.

The news was better for the team of Giniel de Villiers/Ralph Pitchford. Delivering an outstanding performance on the Gauteng event, they sprinted from the start, and finished second overall at the end of day one. Gearbox problems brought their dynamite pace to a halt, though, and the the BP Volkswagen team of technicians replaced the ‘box after stage 13, during the routine service. A small lateness penalty didn’t stop the duo from completing the final stage of the event, but then an engine mounting broke, and engine damage from the slipping timing belt forced them out of the event. Gugu Zulu/Carl Peskin campaigned their S1600 Polo Vivo through ten stages, before forced to bow out with a sheared control arm bolt. S1400 runners Megan Verlaque/Lirene du Plessis claimed victory in the smaller-cc class.

Other top ten Volkswagen Polo finishers included the pairs of Nicholas Ryan/Armand du Toit in seventh, and Japie van Niekerk/Simon Vacy-Lyle in ninth, both teams in Polo Vivo S2000s. Christoff Snyders/Celeste Snyders took 20th place in their Polo Vivo S1600, while S1400 Polo pilots Henk Lategan/Pierre Jordaan finished one place below. The BP Volkswagen Polo rally team will now prepare for their traditional home event, the Volkswagen Rally, to be held on Friday and Saturday, the 15-16 July in Port Elizabeth.

[Images: ledbitter@quickpic]

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