THE first round of the South African national rally championships is all about the questions. The event takes place on Friday and Saturday, 23 and 24 March in KwaZulu-Natal and there is a strong focus on the BP Volkswagen effort.
“Photographer: Morne Condon”
The brand new BP Volkswagen Polo S2000 has many people asking many questions – chief amongst them is “Just how good is the new BP Volkswagen Polo S2000?” A very valid question to ask when Volkswagen Motorsport has six consecutive national rally championship titles to their name with the previous generation Volkswagen Polo S2000.
Round one of the 2012 national rally season in South Africa is going to answer all of the questions being asked about this new generation BP Volkswagen Polo S2000. The latest generation in rally technology has been crafted for the single purpose of winning rallies – and the Total Rally is the first opportunity for this new Volkswagen Polo S2000 to show its mettle.
Although early in its development cycle – which means there is potential yet to be exploited – the Volkswagen Polo S2000 has already captured the imaginations of rally fans and followers who will be eagerly following its progress at round one of the championship.
The BP Volkswagen rally team will also be watched as eagerly as the BP Volkswagen Polo S2000s. For 2012 the team welcomes Hans Weijs Jnr and Bjorn Degandt to the team. These two international competitors have experience in both the IRC and the WRC – but are an unknown quantity on local rally stages.
This means that Weijs and Degandt will be in sharp focus to their competition as they tackle the start of the national rally season – with each stage performance being judged and analysed by everyone in the rally community. While the duo are prepared for the event, they have had limited testing opportunity and will enter the rally with a steep learning curve in getting used to the local conditions.
For Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson there will be no learning curve required for the KZN rally environment – they’ve won the event twice before, the last time in 2006, and are eager to claim the top spot as their own. Both are seasoned campaigners in the national rally championship and their concentration will be firmly focused on getting up to pace from the outset in a brand new rally car. Kuun and Hodgson are two-time winners of the national championship title in a BP Volkswagen Polo S2000 – and will definitely be in the hunt for a third.
Teammates Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries are in a similar position. They know the territory, they are seasoned campaigners, they have a national rally title under the belt – and they will be in full flight searching for another title. Another victory at this event – which they claimed in 2010, the most recent win for a BP Volkswagen entry in KZN – is just the launchpad they need for a serious championship challenge this season.
Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin have a huge challenge ahead of them at the Total Rally. This BP Volkswagen crew will contest the new S2000 Challenge category of national rallying – and their efforts will be backed up by the BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000. The challenge that lies ahead this season is going to test them, but their rally car that has a pedigree which stretches back to include six national rally titles to help them to the end.
Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray tackle the S1600 category with their two-wheel drive BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo in search of rally honours – and the start of their first full season as a rally team. Verlaque posted some strong results last season and this can stand her in good stead for the coming year.