08 November 2012 ~ 0 Comments

BP Volkswagen Polo S2000s claim a one-two finish on the Garden Route Rally

2012 Garden Route Rally: Weijs Jnr/Degandt

Finally, good luck has shone on the South African BP Volkswagen rally team. Claiming the top two finishing positions on the Garden Route Rally on 2-4 November, the result marks a siginificant upturn in luck for the Polo S2000-based team, who have endured a disappointing season of mid-table and non-finishes. Hans Weijs Jnr and Björn Degandt rallied home in first place. Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson came second.

Weijs Jnr and Degandt claimed three stage wins (out of an available five) on the first day of the event, and carried on their positive streak into Saturday, to finish first on four out of six stages. ‘I wanted the best result I could get after the puncture on Friday,’ says Weijs. ‘We claimed more than three minutes back, the stage times were perfect. We pushed really hard, and we took it to the limit at this event,’ enthused Weijs Jnr.

Kuun and Hodgson pushed hard, too, not that it showed. Gracefully tackling each stage consistently and commandingly, Kuun was especially pleased with his and Hodgson’s event outcome: ‘It has been a difficult year for all of us, and it is nice to bring this result home. The team have been putting in a lot of hard work and this shows that with the depth of talent and skill we have available, we can pull it all together.’

Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries didn’t enjoy such good luck, but the pair started well. They were in the top five on four of the first six stages, but were eliminated from the event on stage seven and could not complete their rally. Meanwhile, the Polo S2000 of Japie van Niekerk and Gerhard Snyman produced a good sixth place, besting some tough rally conditions that saw many of the competitors suffer problems.

Van Niekerk and Snyman finished just ahead of the BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000 of Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin, who had already claimed 2012’s S2000 Challenge title, but won the same category on the Garden Route Rally, as well as grabbing a seventh place overall finish, bringing their car home more than three minutes ahead of their nearest class rivals. Further down the field, the BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S1600 of Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray snatched fifth place in the S1600 car class.

The 11-stage Garden Route event saw competitors finish the 2012 season in the picturesque Wilderness and Knysna area, and witnessed some stellar rally performances. Drawing the curtain on the 2012 season, it also hints at an exciting and demanding 2013. The final results mark not only the BP Volkswagen team’s strengths in bringing the new BP Volkswagen Polo S2000 up to pace to compete successfully on a national championship level, but also holds the promise for what the coming season holds.

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11 October 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Podium finish and class victory for BP Volkswagen team at Polokwane Rally

2012 Polokwane Rally: Fekken/Arries

The BP Volkswagen rally team scored favourable results in the penultimate round of the 2012 South African National Rally Championship, the Polokwane Rally on 6-7 October. Although high temperatures and fast stages took their toll on many competitors, the Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin claimed the S2000 Challenge title with their Polo Vivo S2000. Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries finished second overall, the pairing’s best result of the season so far, and the BP Volkswagen team’s third podium place of the 2012 series.

The 2012 S2000 Challenge victory marks the fourth time that Zulu has won a national rally title, and one he and Peskin claimed with one round of the season still to go. ‘It is always a great feeling to win a rally title,’ says Zulu. ‘I think we’ve done well this season, achieving the inaugural S2000 Challenge victory was done with a lot of work from my team and with the help of my co-driver. The season did have its ups and downs, and on this rally we didn’t finish where we wanted to, but we did win the championship,’ he continued.

‘We had a very good event,’ said Fekken said of his and Arries’ second place finish. ‘We changed a gearbox on Friday but other than that it was a good, clean event with no surprises. Starting so low down the order on Saturday (ninth on the road on day one) wasn’t ideal, but it worked out for us and we did well because of it. On Sunday we aimed for second place on the event, and we achieved that. It is a good result for the team.’

Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson displayed the pace which has kept them at the sharp end of the field this year, with onsistently fast times among the top three places during the opening stages of the event. Unfortunately they were unable to complete the rally and have shifted their focus to the final round. Hans Weijs Jnr and Bjorn Degandt are doing the same, after fatally damaging their Polo S2000 with a hard landing following a jump.

The Polo S1600 entry of Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray looked strong out on the stages, and the duo showed commitment on the event but were plagued by punctures on the first day of the event. Overcoming these setbacks, they finished fifth in the S1600 class. Elsewhere, Japie van Niekerk and Gerhard Snyman finished fourth overall in their privateer New Africa Developments Polo S2000, after finishing day one in sixth place.

‘The new BP Volkswagen Polo S2000s are doing better with every event,’ said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. ‘The rewards for the effort expended have been slow in coming, but I think we’re over those hurdles now and am confident we’ll be up to our standards by the start of the 2013 season.’ The final round of the 2012 South African National Rally Championship will see the BP Volkswagen Polo rally team head to the Western Cape for the Garden Route Rally on Friday and Saturday, November 2 and 3.

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18 September 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Podium finish for BP Volkswagen rally team at Toyota Cape Dealer Rally

2012 Toyota Cape Dealer Rally: Kuun/Hodgson

It’s been a long time coming, but the South African BP Volkswagen rally team finally scored a podium place at the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally on 16 September. Luck was with Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson when they crossed the line at Caledon. The Polo S2000 pairing won stage six two days earlier, but a consistent performance never saw them leave the top five positions, and they focused on productin their best result of the season. ‘The pace was quick and we drove hard, but for us it was more about keeping our podium position than challenging for an overall victory,’ said Kuun.

Kuun and Hodgson’s run wasn’t without drama and incident. A collision with a stray sheep damaged the steering of the Polo, and they had to complete a further two stages before the components could be repaired. ‘We really thought it was all over at that point,’ said Kuun. But, the service crew effected the necessary repairs to the duo’s Polo S2000 rally car, allowing them to get back into the thick of the action, and post fast stage times.

‘This is a good result for our new BP Volkswagen Polo S2000,’ says Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. ‘Work on this new-generation rally car has been ongoing and our result this weekend shows that the effort is starting to pay dividends.’

Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries had a tough event, with Fekken fighting off a dose of flu. A damaging incident on stage one saw them lose 20 seconds, but they finished the event in sixth place overall. ‘We had the problem on the first stage, lost time again with a puncture and I was feeling really ill on Friday,’ said Fekken. ‘I felt much better on Saturday and we just made up as much time as we could.’

Team mates Hans Weijs Jnr and Björn Degandt claimed fourth in stage one and third in stages two and three before they experienced mechanical trouble in stage four which sadly eliminated them from the event. They re-entered for Saturday under Super Rally rules and consistently claimed third-place stage times throughout most of the day.

Polo Vivo S2000 pilots Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin continued their successful season with an S2000 Challenge class victory, cementing their championship lead in the process. The S1600 class was a tough one for Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray in their BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S1600. ‘On stage three I made a mistake which caused some damage so we had to change strategy and concentrate on making the finish line,’ said Verlaque.

Further down the field, Henk Lategan and Barry White finished behind Zulu and Peskin, taking second place in the S2000 Challenge category. The BP Volkswagen rally team will be in action once more at the Polokwane Rally from 5-7 October 2012.

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20 August 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Tough and demanding Rally South Africa for BP Volkswagen team

2012 Rally South Africa: Kuun/Hodgson

The BP Volkswagen rally team saw a tough and demanding two days of competition on the Rally South Africa event in Kwa-Zulu Natal on 17-18 August. By the end of the eight fast stages, the multi-car crew was fighting for for the finish in Durban. Top-ranked Volkswagen Polo S2000 was the car of Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson, who placed fourth overall, producing some of their most spectacular 2012 season moments.

After the first day, the pair was third in the leadership table, ahead of teammates Hans Weijs Jnr and Björn Degandt. Bad luck befell Weijs and Degandt, though, with a technical problem at the start of day two preventing them from continuing the event. This left the door open for Kuun and Hodgson, who raced to the finish line with unfaltering commitment and a fourth place. ‘It was a strong weekend in the car, we worked hard,’ said Kuun. ‘The BP Volkswagen Polo S2000 is capable and we did reasonably well. We just need to add more speed to the performance now.’

Fellow Polo S2000 drivers Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries suffered a mechanical problem on the first day, and while this allowed them to compete, it incurred them additional time. Rallying hard to rectify the deficit saw them claim victory on stage eight, a full 1.2 seconds ahead of their nearest rivals.

The Polo Vivo pairing of Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin has been campaigning very hard in the S2000 Challenge class during 2012, and the Rally South Africa was no exception. Crossing the line after the ninth stage, the duo discovered they had posted many of the fastest stage times for their category and were 15th overall and second in their class. Two places behind Zulu and Peskin on the overall finishing list was Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray in their Polo Vivo S1600. Verlaque and Auffray rallied hard on day two to make up for their slower times from day one and the pair finished sixth overall in their class.

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18 July 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Slippery conditions of VW Rally put BP Volkswagen’s hopes on the skids

2012 Volkswagen Rally: Zulu/Peskin

Very wet and very muddy stages welcomed competitors on the Volkswagen Rally on 13-14 July. The fourth round of the 2012 South African National Rally Championship took place on the Eastern Cape, and severe weather conditions saw the issuing of flood alerts with possible emergency evacuations mooted. Not ideal conditions for the BP Volkswagen Polo S2000s on their home event, and as the planned fast, action-packed stages became slippery and treacherous, the trio had little else to do but persevere until the end of the event.

The top pairing of Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson pulled out all the stops over the two-day event, and finished fifth overall, despite numerous stage cancellations, and a disappointing 13th place finish at the end of day one. ‘We had high hopes of a good performance in the Eastern Cape,’ said Kuun. ‘When the event turned out to be quite as demanding as this, with the rallying taking place under such severe conditions, we had to keep our wits about us. I think we’ve proved yet again that the new BP Volkswagen Polo S2000 is a good car, we just have to find the combination to unlock that potential.’

The duo of Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries didn’t have as much luck. Good stage times were not enough to keep them in the fight and they had to accept an eighth place overall position by the end of the event. Hans Weijs Jnr and Björn Degandt meanwhile were excited at the prospect of competing in front of the team’s home crowd, but were unprepared for the conditions they faced on the event, rallying their new-for-2012 Polo S2000 to a 12th place finish.

‘The stages looked fantastic on the preview,’ Weijs reported. ‘This looked like our kind of event and we were really looking forward to it. But, it turned out to be our toughest event yet here in South Africa and probably the one we most want to forget. We had made our notes before the event, but with the change in the conditions we had new instructions issued and we couldn’t get these to match our notes properly.’

Two tough days of competition for S2000 Challenge pair Gugu Zulu/Carl Peskin saw them cross the finish line for ninth place overall. ‘Conditions were really tough here this weekend,’ said Zulu. ‘It didn’t matter what we tried, there just didn’t seem to be any grip available on the stages, everything was just mud. We settled into doing the very best we could but with keeping the finish line firmly in sight. We weren’t going to take any chances.’ The duo finished second in their class, bolstering their class lead.

Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray were very happy with their performance on the Volkswagen Rally, despite being forced to finish the event under Super Rally conditions. ‘This event saw us use our brand new Polo Vivo S1600,’ explained Verlaque. ‘It is just such a change. The new gearbox, the sequential shift, the feel of the car, everything about it is just so much better. We had a problem on Friday and had to re-enter the event as a Super Rally competitor on Saturday. The potential in the new car is obvious and we cannot wait to tackle the next event and see how well we do!’

‘This was our first opportunity to contest the new 6R-based Volkswagen Polo S2000 under wet conditions,’ said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. ‘The events this year have thrown just about every kind of environment at us, but nothing even close to what we experienced this weekend. Finishing in the top five on an event that saw three stages cancelled due to the weather, and with every other stage offering extremely low grip and very little control at speed, shows that we have a good package in the new car,’ Rowe continued. ‘Our focus now is on taking the data we have collected and translating that into a performance advantage for the next round of the series.’

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