TWO rounds into the 2012 South African National Rally Championship season and the new competitors in the BP Volkswagen Rally Team are making their mark locally. The international pair of Hans Weijs Jnr and Björn Degandt have claimed fourth place overall as their own – with their points identical to that of the third-placed competitors.
Weijs and Degandt entered the local rally scene this year – the same season the team is competing with the latest generation Volkswagen Polo S2000 rally car. The pair have had to simultaneously adapt to local conditions and new rally car technology, which is happening faster than most had calculated.
The result is that the pair achieved their first podium finish at the previous round of the championship, the Sasol Rally. At this event they finished in third place, a big leap up from their sixth place finish at round one in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The question now is what will their finished position be for round three, the Toyota Dealer Gauteng Rally, on Saturday and Sunday, 9 and 10 June.
The pair's desire to win is obvious to everyone, but the same can also be said of their teammates, Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson and Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries. Both driver and navigator pairs are previous national rally champions and both want to stamp their authority on the 2012 season.
This could turn the Gauteng rally into a three-way rush to the finish for the BP Volkswagen Rally Team as the teammates compete against one another for honours – and contend with the competition in what is shaping up to be one of the hardest-fought rally seasons yet. The event, which takes a Saturday/Sunday format rather than the usual Friday/Saturday of local rallying will also see competitors in action at Rallystar and Zwartkops Raceway.
Gugu Zulu and his navigator, Carl Peskin, have shaken things up in national rallying this season with their BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000. The pair are campaigning the new S2000 Challenge category this year and did well in round one – immediately following this up with a sixth overall finish at round two to hold eighth place overall at this point in the championship.
The duo are aiming to produce similar rally performances as the season progresses. The pair is currently leading the S2000 Challenge category by a large margin, with points more than double that of their nearest rivals.
In the S1600 category Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray are also building up a good performance record. The pair leads their category with a BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo thanks to some good rallying. A second place finish at the Sasol Rally has allowed them to grab the lead but, with a slim two-point margin, they will not be resting on their laurels at round three. The goal now is to build on that lead and show their competitors a clean pair of heels as they aim for the S1600 title.
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