Archive | 2013 South African National Rally Championship

22 July 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Sasolracing rally team endure a tough home event

2013 Volkswagen Rally: Lategan/White

Round four of the South African National Rally Championship was a tough outing for the Volkswagen Sasolracing team. The Volkswagen Rally, the squad’s home event, was a challenging two-day drive. A glut of punctures on day one caused problems, slowing the Polo S2000 teams down, increasing stage times. Enzo Kuun and Douglass Judd scored the highest result of the weekend with a fifth place at the event, also taking the first stage win of the rally, having had a good start from the off. The pair also won three of the final four stages, while team-mates Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries came in one place behind them in sixth.

Henk Lategan and Barry White claimed two stage wins, taking the team’s total to nearly half of all the victories available. Lategan and White competed under Super Rally regulations on the second day, though, after getting stuck after a flying finish on day one. The recovery time needed to get them back on the road necessitated running in Super Rally. Meanwhile, defending S2000 Challenge champions Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin were forced into retirement for the first time in two seasons. Gearbox problems sidelined them with four stages to go.

‘It has been a tough weekend for the whole team in Port Elizabeth,’ said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. ‘We didn’t achieve the results we were aiming for, but made very good use of the opportunity to do some extended testing with Lategan and White competing in Super Rally on Saturday. The stage wins are a clear indication that we have the pace, the focus now is on tying all those together to clinch the results the pace should be providing,’ Rowe added.

A strong contingent of Polos made up the rest of the field. The older-specification S2000 Challenge class was led by the Team Total Toyota Auris of Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Hilton Auffray, but Morne Janse van Rensburg and Rikus Fourie out up a good fight in the matt black GC Diesel Racing Polo which wore its sticker once again with pride. The GC Diesel Racing four-wheel drive Polo Vivo finished the event in eighth place. The two-wheel drive S1600 Polos of Chad van Beurden and Henry Dearlove, and Paul Franken and Henry Kohne started well, but sadly dropped down the event rankings on day two.

Volkswagen South Africa also took the opportunity to unveil the Polo Rally Cup in Port Elizabeth, and while official details are yet to be confirmed, believes it to be an FIA-approved R2 class one-make series, using S1600 cars. More details as they are announced. The next round of the 2013 South African National Rally Championship is on 16-17 August, and will see the Volkswagen Sasolracing crews competing in Gauteng.

[Images: ledbitter@quickpic]

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06 June 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Franken and Kohne find their feet in Polo R2 at Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally

2013 Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally: Franken/Kohne

As well as the Volkswagen Sasolracing team’s fleet of Polo S2000s, the third round of the 2013 South African National Rally Championship (SANRC) saw the smaller Manitou Group Polo R2 heading to Gauteng for the Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally. Paul Franken and Henry Kohne found their feet in the Polo R2, and with their notes and systems in the car starting to fall into place, it gave them confidence to start pushing early.

With up to 15 entries in the class, the pair found them self laying fourth in class at the end of day one, with five stages behind them which would be repeated on day two. After 91km of intense rallying, they were in a comfortable position, 22 seconds behind third place. In the first stage of day two, the pair got into rhythm quickly, and with the set-up of the car being better than on day one, they were looking forward to the second leg of the rally. Unfortunately, the team’s season of bad luck continued striking halfway into stage six, leaving Franken and Kohne with a broken sideshaft, forcing the Manitou Polo to retire.

2013 Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally: Franken/Kohne

‘I have been finding it difficult to get to grips with the Polo R2 early in the season but I have been gaining some valuable seat time in the car and starting to feel at home behind the wheel of the car. Being on pace at the Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally gives us some much-needed confidence and we are looking forward to the rest of the season,’ said Paul Franken. The team will continue to work hard between events and is preparing for the next round of the SANRC, the Volkswagen Rally on the 19-20 July in the Eastern Cape. The Franken/Kohne Polo R2 is supported by Manitou Group, Volkswagen Racing, and Sasol.

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05 June 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Sasolracing produces strong results at Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally

2013 Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally: Lategan/White

The third round of the South African National Rally Championship saw two Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000s finish in the top five places. Enzo Kuun and Douglas Judd claimed third overall, while Henk Lategan and Barry White were the fifth car home. Two days of dusty competition saw the crews drive 10 stages, with Lategan and White the fastest Polo S2000 on day one, holding onto third place overnight. Kuun and Judd were two places below. Day two saw Lategan and White overshoot a stage, costing them valuable time and two places. Kuun and Judd meanwhile remained consistently within the top five stage finishers on the second day to improve their standings and take their first 2013 podium.

‘We started off well and our times were quite good,’ said Lategan. ‘We were perhaps a little too cautious on this event, though, and should have pushed harder. What we do have is a top five finish for the weekend, which remains a good result.’ Kuun was pleased with his and Judd’s result. ‘The credit for this victory must go to the Volkswagen Sasolracing team, a massive achievement for them and a just reward for all their hard work,’ says Kuun. ‘This event was a big step for me after the first round accident and having to handle all the jumps this weekend. This has been a chance to build real confidence going forward.’

Fellow Polo S2000 pilots Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries were fast from the off, the pair third in stage one and claiming victories in both stages two and three. A technical issue saw them miss the rest of the first day, however, and they entered day two under Super Rally rules. Here they immediately went into battle claiming a fourth, two second places and a stage victory to finish 11th overall on the event. ‘We had a good run on day one, leading the rally,’ says Fekken. ‘We stayed with the leaders and did good times today under the Super Rally rules and the Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000 is very good. Our issue on day one was unfortunate but we still made a strong showing this weekend.’

For reigning S2000 Challenge champions, Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin, the Gauteng event started on an unexpected, but exciting note, when Peskin received a call to say his wife had gone into labour three weeks early. He rushed home to be present for the birth of his daughter, Cameron. Gerhard Snyman, who normally navigates for Japie van Niekerk, stepped in to aid Zulu as co-driver. The pair put in a good performance on the event, despite not having worked together before. An accident by another competitor in the final stage saw Zulu and Snyman sent to parc fermé instead of completing the stage. With just a minute needed for them to claim victory in the S2000 Challenge category, the final stage incident came as a disappointment. The pair still brought their Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo Vivo S2000 home second in the S2000 Challenge category – seventh place overall.

Other Polo finishers included Chad van Beurden and Henry Dearlove who placed 19th, and Paul Franken and Henry Kohne who came in 28th. Unfortunately Megan Verlaque and Oliver Verlaque in a Super 1600 Polo Vivo failed to finish the event. The Volkswagen Sasolracing team, meanwhile, will compete next in their home event, the Volkswagen Rally, on 19-20 July when they bring national rally action to fans in the Eastern Cape.

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22 April 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Sasolracing team fight rain-soaked conditions at Sasol Rally

2013 Sasol Rally: Henk Letegan/Barry White

Henk Lategan and Barry White battled the rain and inclement conditions at the Sasol Rally in Nelspruit over 19-20 April to claim a fourth place overall for the South African Volkswagen Sasolracing rally team. Even with multiple punctures, the duo were the top-placed VW finishers in their Polo S2000. Two of the 15 stages on the two-day event were cancelled, with the second day having almost constant rain. The wet conditions didn’t stop Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin either, their Polo Vivo S2000 finishing seventh, the reigning S2000 Challenge champions taking the honours once more in the category.

‘It was an unpredictable rally and today was particularly tough,’ said Lategan. ‘It was difficult just staying on the road and we found ourselves going full-lock in both directions on the straights. The most important thing was for us was to get to the finish of the event.’ Mike Rowe, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa agreed. ‘The Sasol Rally proved a real challenge this year. Henk and Barry did well in just their second outing for the Volkswagen Sasolracing team. They put in a good performance and even recorded a stage win in the process.’

The Sasol Rally was the first outing for the new pairing of Enzo Kuun and Douglas Judd, following the retirement of Kuun’s longstanding co-driver Guy Hodgson. Not expected to be competitive, the pair didn’t finish the event. An opportunity to get some time together in the car, the pair achieved their goal, according to Rowe. Finally, Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries put in good stage times on the second day of the event, claiming several stage times within the top five finishers. Technical problems during the first day of the event cost them in terms of overall rally time and they finished just inside the top 10, claiming ninth place overall.

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27 March 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Slow start to Volkswagen Sasolracing’s 2013 national rally championship season

2013 Total Rally: Zulu/Peskin

The Total Rally on 8-9 March saw the Volkswagen Sasolracing team have mixed results, on what was the first round of the 2013 South African National Rally Championship. Decisively won by South African rally champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton in their Ford Fiesta S2000, the highest-placed Volkswagen Sasolracing car in Kwazulu Natal was the Polo Vivo S2000 of Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin, which finished fifth. Further down the field, Megan and Oliver Verlaque completed the event 15th, and sixth in the S1600 class. It was a disappointing event for the flagship squad of Volkswagen Polo S2000s, though, with one car retiring, and two others involved in a serious incident.

Former champions Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson crashed out on Friday’s stage three, while battling for second place with the Fiesta S2000 of Jan Habig and Robert Paisley. The Polo was severely damaged after rolling end over end several times and the pair were taken to hospital for observation. It was slightly better news for Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries. After competing in the Super Rally, they went off the road on Friday’s first stage and were unable to continue. After setting second-fastest times in Saturday’s first two stages, they lost time with a puncture on stage 12. The pair finished 18th overall and 11th in S2000, and it was a frustrating reminder of the Polo 6R S2000’s potential.In the third Sasolracing Polo S2000, 18 year-old Henk Lategan and his co-driver Barry White impressed in their debut, finishing third on Friday and recovering from contact with a concrete tunnel wall and a brief grass fire to finish 13th in S2000. Their incident saw the cancellation of stage eight, the first of Saturday’s six gravel stages, as officials and bystanders extinguished the blaze caused by the car’s hot exhaust setting fire to the dry undergrowth. Lategan marked himself as a champion of the future with a spirited fight-back which saw him take the honours from his more illustrious rivals on stage 12 on his way to 23rd overall.

Other top 20 Polo Total Rally finishers included the S1600 machine of Chad van Beurden and Henry Dearlove, and the S2000 Challenge car of Morne Janse van Rensburg and Rikus Fourie. The newly-developed Polo 6R 1600 Group N Manitou Group-sponsored of Paul Franken and Henry Kohne unfortunately failed to finish. The next round of the South African Rally Championship, the Sasol Rally, is at Mpumalanga on 19-20 April 2013.

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