SA Earthworks Team retain second in S1600 title chase
information supplied by: MSA Rally Commission
15 July 2012
SA EARTHWORKS RALLY TEAM RETAINS SECOND IN S1600 TITLE CHASE AFTER VW RALLY MUDBATH
Nic van der Westhuizen graduated with distinction from the School of Rally Driving (mud 101) after surviving the rain-soaked Volkswagen Rally this past weekend. Run in persistent rain, the pair ended 6th in the front wheel drive Super 1600 class, bring the SA Earthworks-backed Ford Fiesta R2 home 22nd overall. The points earned keep the pairing in 2nd place in the title chase at the halfway point of the season.
Van der Westhuizen and regular co-driver Henry Dearlove took a cautious approach to the event, the driver’s first foray into the Eastern Cape and his first ever wet rally.
“I wish it was a dry event”, said vd Westhuizen, winner of the last round in Gauteng. “The roads looked awesome to drive on”.
Visibility in the treacherous conditions wasn’t helped by the demister failing in the first stage, necessitating the crew to stop and clear the window, losing a minute in the process. A slow puncture from stage 1 carried over into stage two where the tyre went completely flat mid-stage and another minute was lost.
Stage three was vd Westhuizen’s first real chance to drive a clean stage and assess the grip levels, which varied considerably from corner to corner. When the SA Earthworks team returned to Uitenhage for the tarmac stage, the handbrake failed as the rear brake pads had worn away, losing yet more time as they were unable to negotiate the hairpins corners quickly.
The team ended day one 8th overall, nearly 4 minutes off the class-leading pace.
Saturday brought more rain, but the crew enjoyed a trouble-free day, setting times consistently in the top three in class in spite of the demister not working all event, working their way back to 6th and extra valuable points.
“It was a character-building event and a steep learning curve”, said vd Westhuizen.
“I was impressed with Nic’s driving. I haven’t had a wet Volkswagen Rally either so I was particularly pleased that we made up over a minute and a half on Saturday in the conditions we had”, Dearlove added.
The next outing for the SA Earthworks Rally Team is the Rally of South Africa in KwaZulu Natal, a new event on the calendar, which takes place on 17 and 18 August.
The SA Earthworks Ford Fiesta R2 is built and maintained by Race Prep in Randburg and enjoys additional support from Construction Tyres, High Power Equipment (HPE) and Shantui.