27 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Adverse weather puts paid to Polo S2000 podiums at Volkswagen Rally

2015 Volkswagen Polo S2000, Volkswagen Rally: Zulu/Auffray

The South African Volkswagen Sasolracing team missed out on podium places at its home event, the Volkswagen Rally, through adverse weather conditions which affected the teams’ performance. Despite the highest Volkswagen crew being place fifth, the Manufacturer Award went to the car maker based at Uitenhage.

Heavy rains
The 17-18 July event around Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape was round five of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship. Severe inclement weather resulted in the cancellation of two stages, but did add in extra excitement for the spectators who braved the heavy rains.

The highest-placed Volkswagen Sasolracing crew was Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries. Their Polo S2000 finished fifth on their the pair’s third outing together. By the end of the first day, the duo were fifth overall. And by the end of stage 10 on day two, they had shown they were quick enough to hold on to that spot.

‘It was a very good event, as every Volkswagen Rally proves to be,’ said Fekken. ‘We had a character-building weekend together and Pierre and I pushed hard for fast stage times. We can’t quite match the pace of the leaders yet, but we are adapting well to the left-hand drive layout and will reach our goal sooner rather than later.’

Bent wheel
Sixth place went to Henk Lategan and Barry White, who posted good stage times, with seven in the top five. A bent wheel lost them some time, but they recovered well and during day two charged from a deficit of nearly one-and-a-half minutes behind Gugulethu Zulu and Hilton Auffray to 28 seconds ahead at the end of stage 10.

‘We started the rally a little conservatively,’ said Lategan. ‘It was, however the flat wheel and damage we got in stage two that really posed a problem. We hit something and bent the wheel. We couldn’t get it off to change the tyre. That cost us around five minutes, in just stage two of the rally, and it was very difficult to try and recover from there.’

‘Major moment’

Zulu and Auffray rallied their Polo S2000 to one spot below Lategan and White, coming home in seventh place. Stage one gave them a fourth place result, while the second stage yielded a fifth spot.

‘We always look forward to the Volkswagen Rally,’ said Zulu. ‘We had a good start in stage one, but a major moment saw us lose a lot of time. The technicians did a great job getting the Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000 repaired and then we did decent times,’ he continued.

‘Adverse conditions’
‘I am proud of the Volkswagen Sasolracing team members for their performance under some really adverse conditions,’ said Mike Rowe, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport. ‘The service crews performed their task well, made sure the Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000s were ready to compete throughout the event and displayed good camaraderie in the face of some terrible weather and working conditions.’

‘In motorsport there is a saying that you cannot win an event that you sponsor and the Volkswagen Rally seems to prove it. The Volkswagen Sasolracing team rallied hard, but were just not quite able to hold its competition at bay,’ Rowe continued.

The S1600 class was won by Paul Franken and Henry Kohne from the Manitou Group SA in another Polo. Round six of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship is the Cullinan Rally which takes place on Friday and Saturday, 14 and 15 August.

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