Archive | 2015 South African National Rally Championship

19 May 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Zulu scores Volkswagen Sasolracing result at Secunda Motor Rally

2015 Volkswagen Polo S2000, Secunda Rally: Zulu/Auffray

After a podium success at the Sasol Rally, Volkswagen Sasolracing was once again on the podium at the 16-16 May Secunda Motor Rally, the third round of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship. Once again, Gugu Zulu was the man responsible for German representation on the third step of the winners’ rostrum. Overall victory went to the Ford duo of Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton.

Second consecutive result
The second consecutive result for the Zulu, he was joined by co-driver Hilton Affray who returned to South African national rallying on the Secunda event. The first day saw Zulu and Auffray in the top five in three of the six stages, the duo appearing in the top four stage times in every one of the six stages. The pair’s best time was the second-fastest result posted in stage nine and by the end of the rally they were third overall.

An ecstatic Zulu commented: ‘The rally started on a strong note, with Hilton and I posting a good time in the first stage. We did lose a bit of time during the day, so started day two on the back foot. The rally was trying in places, but even with a big change getting to know a new navigator, we still got on the pace and posted times I’m very happy with.’

‘An amazing job’
‘Gugu has done an amazing job once again, he was really fast this weekend even with a new navigator – and that usually takes a while,’ said Mike Rowe, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa. ‘Considering he finished effectively just 2.7 seconds behind Giniel de Villiers, excluding the 30 second penalty, it is another very encouraging result from Gugu.’

Zulu and Auffray’s teammates were not so lucky. Both Henk Lategan and Barry White, and Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries were knocked out of contention during stage nine. Lategan and White were fourth in the first two stages of the event and second in stages four and five. The pair finished stage six with the fastest time – and second overall at the end of day one.

Fekken and Arries meanwhile built their pace during the first day, to the point where they were they were third-fastest on stage six and fourth overall heading into day two. The fourth Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000 crew, Thilo Himmel and Armand du Toit, finished fifth in their matt black machine.

‘Well-oiled machine’
‘The Volkswagen Sasolracing team proved this weekend to be a very well-oiled machine, the servicing between stages was slick and organised, they certainly rose to the challenge and from a team point of view we are happy with the pace of the car,’ said Rowe. ‘Hergen has adapted very well to the car and just had a bit of bad luck in his first event. I’m confident he would have finished on the podium otherwise.’

The 2015 South African National Rally Championship will see the Volkswagen Sasolracing team head to Bela-Bela for the fourth round of the series, the Toyota Bela Bela/Toyota Tara Rally around Limpopo on 19-20 June.

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24 April 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Manitou Group SA rally team finishes second in S1600 on 2015 Sasol Rally

Co-driver of the Manitou Group SA rally team Polo S1600, Henry Kohne explains how the team scored another strong 2015 South African National Rally Championship result at the second round of the series, the 2015 Sasol Rally

2015 Volkswagen Polo S1600, Manitou Group rally team

The 2015 Sasol Rally, round two of the South African National Rally Championship and also an official round of the African Rally Championship, took place on the weekend of 17-18 April. In history, the Sasol Rally is known to be the benchmark event of the South African National Rally Championship and this year it lived up to its legendary status.

The Mpumalanga region produced heavy rains over the course of the weekend which made the stages around Sabie, Witrivier and Nelspruit extremely challenging to teams. This how ether did not keep the spectators away as there was thousands of spectators surrounding the special stages on Friday and Saturday.

Second in class
The Manitou Group SA rally team managed to deal with the tricky conditions and finished second in the S1600 class and a respectable seventh overall on the Sasol Rally. After winning the opening round of the South African National Rally Championship in Natal earlier this year and with their second position on the Sasol Rally, the team maintains its lead in the S1600 championship.

“The Sasol Rally presented our team with a lot of challenges. We made the wrong tyre choice for the wet conditions on Friday which cost us the time we lost to the leader. We are happy with our second position, as it was a very challenging event for man and machine. Our main aim at this point of the season is to score consistent championship points,’ said driver Paul Franken.

The next event will be the Secunda Rally on the weekend of the 15-16th May 2015. The Manitou Group SA rally team receive support from: Manitou Group, Volkswagen Motorsport, Sasol Racing, and Supa Quick Birchleigh.


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20 April 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Zulu and Arries celebrate Polo S2000 podium position at the 2015 Sasol Rally

2015 Volkswagen Polo S2000, Sasol Rally: Zulu/Arries

Volkswagen Sasolracing had reason to celebrate at the recent Sasol Rally, when Gugu Zulu and Pierre Arries finished the event on the third step of the winners’ podium. The 17-18 April event in Nelspruit was the second round of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship as well as Zulu’s first winning result in his Polo S2000.

‘It was fantastic to enjoy my first S2000 podium finish and stage win, here at the Sasol Rally,’ said a jubilated Zulu. ‘The Sasol Rally is one of my favourite events and to share that victory with the packed stadium of fans here who have been supporting me since I started rallying 12 years ago it is absolutely awesome. A nice way to end a very tough weekend.’

First S2000 podium
‘This was my first S2000 podium – it has been in the works for a while, but I always seemed to miss it by just a position or two. We made it work here thanks to my crew who played a big role in getting me here. My navigator Pierre and I are working together really well and it can only get better from here on.’

The extremely slippery conditions favoured few and the 15 stages saw heavy mist and constant rain prevail throughout, aiming conditions less than ideal. Henk Lategan and Barry White were due to complete the event and were posting second and third place stage results when a puncture slowed the pair down. An accident on day two saw them retire.

Equally unkind
The Sasol Rally was equally unkind to third Polo S2000 crew Hans Weijs Jnr and Björn Degandt. They were out of contention on the first day. A fourth Polo S2000 driven by Thilo Himmel and Armand du Toit scored a fifth place result.

Mike Rowe, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa said: ’I’m very happy for Gugu and Pierre. They had a very steady rally and made good progress to get to the finish, a good result for the Volkswagen Sasolracing team. Henk and Barry proved yesterday we have a very fast car in the Volkswagen Polo S2000, finishing within 35 seconds of the rally leaders overnight even with issues.’

The Volkswagen Sasolracing rally team will next do battle at the Secunda Motor Rally which runs around Secunda in the Mpumulanga region from 15-16 May.

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12 March 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Lategan scores first 2015 SANRC Volkswagen podium at Tour Natal Rally

2015 Volkswagen Polo S2000, Tour Natal Rally: Lategan/White

Volkswagen Sasolracing started the 2015 South African National Rally Championship as it meant to go on with a podium placing for Henk Lategan and Barry White. The two drivers scored a third place finish at the Tour Natal Rally, which kicked off in the KwaZulu-Natal area of the country.

Lategan was second overall in the 2014 championship with his co-driver Björn Degandt, and at the first round of the 2015 season his pairing with White netted them top five finishes during every stage of the Natal event. A third place at the end of day one ensured the duo started day two third on every stage running among the fastest teams.

‘Our pace notes for the rally were really good,’ said Lategan. ‘We made perhaps two small mistakes – which is nothing over a whole rally – but we were on it right from the beginning of the event. We were pushing 100 per cent here at the Tour Natal, driving well but with the frontrunners not making any mistakes either the pace didn’t allow us to make up any time on them,’ he continued.

Good pace
Mike Rowe, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa was pleased his team’s result: ‘Two years of experience is now starting to show for Henk and Barry. They managed the rally very well and showed good pace. With our technical improvements for the Sasol Rally we will be in an even better space and expecting even better results there.’

Another new pairing, Gugu Zulu and Pierre Arries, achieved a sixth place finish in their newly-liveried Polo S2000 rally car. Zulu was reflective on the pair’s achievements: ‘A brand new car and navigator makes for a trying combination. Blind corners through the sugar cane and a slippery surface made the event difficult.

‘I’m glad we brought it home after a clean rally and gained the points. The car is fabulous and the team has worked hard during the off-season. Pierre and I need to work on a smoother rhythm in the car and we’ll be going into the Sasol Rally feeling really strong,’ he noted.

‘Gugu and Pierre’s results are very good for this event,’ said Rowe. ‘For their first rally together, and their first time in a left-hand drive car, they produced a surprising result, missing fifth place overall by just nine-tenths of a second. A solid result for the team overall.’

Out of contention
The final pieces in the Volkswagen Sasolracing, Hans Weijs Jnr and Björn Degandt weren’t so lucky. A roll on day one took them out of contention of the Tour Natal, but stoked up Weijs’ determination for the season.

‘We were getting quicker through the stages,’ he said. ‘We had good speed and I decided to push the pace a bit, but we went a little too far inside of the corner, caught the ridge at the side of the road and it pushed us over. It is disappointing, but I can tell you this – the next rally is mine!’

The next round of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship is the Sasol Rally in Mpumalanga on 17-18 April.

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08 March 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Strong start for Manitou Group SA Rally team’s 2015 SANRC campaign

Manitou Group SA Rally team co-driver Henry Kohne recalls how the 2015 South African National Rally Championship (SANRC) got off to a bang for the Vredenburg-based crew

2015 Tour Natal Rally: Franken/Kohne

The opening round of the South African National Rally Championship was on the weekend of 27-28 February in the KwaZulu-Natal, Scottburgh area and the Manitou Group SA Rally team managed to score a win in class S1600 with its Polo S1600 rally car.

Being the first event of the 2015 season, the Tour Natal Rally saw the top eight seeded teams have draw starting positions. Paul Franken and Henry Kohne drew number one, putting them first on the road.

‘Being the first front-wheel drive car on the road was a big challenge to me, with slippery road conditions we were very cautious on day one. We managed to pick up our pace throughout the event and at the end, our cautious approach seems to have worked for us as many teams were caught out by the slippery roads of Natal,’ said Paul Franken.

The Manitou Group team won three out of the eleven special stages in the S1600 class. This gave confidence at the beginning of the season to compete for more podium positions in the S1600 class.

‘We are pleased with our result on the Tour Natal Rally. To score maximum points at the beginning of the season will help a lot towards the Championship,’ added Franken.

The next event is the SASOL Rally in Sabie on the weekend of 17-18 April. The Manitou Group SA Rally team is supported by Manitou Group, Supa Quick Birchleigh, Volkswagen Motorsport and SASOL Racing.

[Image: Sue Vacy-lyle]

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