PREVIEW: POLOKWANE RALLY (6-7 October)
Armed with a brand new Ford Fiesta R2 for the Polokwane, Nic van der Westhuizen and Henry Dearlove are going to Polokwane for the 7th round of the Super 1600 SA Rally Championship aiming to be the season’s first double winner in a class that has seen six different winners emerge from the preceding six rounds.
The front-wheel drive class is highly competitive and with the next generation of rally talent out to prove their worth, reliability and accidents have punctuated the class throughout the year as men and machine push the limits.
The SA Earthworks Team taste the victor’s champagne on the Gauteng Rally in June before rolling in the Rally of South Africa and missing the last round in the Cape as they waited for parts to build a new car.
With the championship over for the SA Earthworks Team, the remaining two rounds will be used to experiment with different settings to optimize their Fiesta R2 and gain further experience of the roads in Polokwane and the garden Route in preparation for an all-out attack on the title in 2013.
The Polokwane Rally was a new event in 2011 and neither Nic nor Henry has competed in the Limpopo Province’s round of the series.
“Like all the rallies this year except the Gauteng Rally, this will be a new event for me. I haven’t rallied since July but I don’t expect to be rusty. The first stage is 31km long and if I’m not on the pace immediately I could lose half a minute which is the last thing I want”, said Nic of his forthcoming challenge.
“I’m learning all the time and it was a lack of experience that caught me out in KwaZulu Natal. We’ve also had our share of bad luck”, Nic continued.
Looking at the class in general and the numerous different winners, Nic said: “I don’t really know yet if six winners is indicative of the sheer competitiveness of the class or if we are all equally bad! Ashley (Haigh Smith) is still the benchmark but Clint Weston, Morne Janse van Rensburg and of course Craig Trott are all very quick when things go well for them”.
Henry Dearlove, the SA Earthworks Team’s multi-champion co-driver plans to coach his young driver over the final rounds: “We need to test different set-ups to find a more aggressive package. We’ve been quite conservative because we were in the championship fight. I’m keen to see what Nic and the car are really capable of now that the pressure is off and get ready for the new season”.
“The class shows the R2 formula works and everyone has a chance to win. I don’t know the area at all; I have heard it is quite sandy and some of the stages are similar to the Gauteng Rally, where we did very well. I’m looking forward to the rally”, Henry concluded.
The Polokwane Rally starts at 9am on Saturday morning from the Tom Naude Technical High School and features eight stages on the agenda, including two in Polokwane itself. Sunday’s 7am start features a second run over the Polokwane Industrial stage, and then takes the teams south of the city for three gravel stages before the finale at the stadium.
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.
Issued on behalf of the SA Earthworks Rally Team by Race Prep Motorsport Solutions