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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