As we reach the final event in the 2012 S A Rally Championship, Jan Habig and Robert Paisley realise that the Garden Route Rally is not going to be a walk in the park. The pairing who made their debut this year in the Basil Read Ford Fiesta S2000 and currently find themselves in 4th position on the 2012 Championship log by a single point, will be building on their excellent finishing record for the season.
“We have managed to take the Basil Read Ford to the finish in every event, finishing in the top 5, with the exception of last month’s Polokwane Rally that took its toll on many of the front-runners,” said Habig after a testing session one of the fast practice stages near Blythedale on the North Coast.
“The extreme weather conditions experienced over the last two weeks will certainly play a very important part in the running of the event, which will not only make it difficult for the competitors but also the officials. It is going to be vital to pay extreme attention to the safety notes, because last minute changes to the roads are inevitable,” he added. “I suspect there will be exposed rocks and loose stones, and even if there is clearer weather over the next few days, some of the stages will remain wet and slippery.”
Most of the stages being used on the Garden Route Rally will be new and crews will be moving into unknown territory. Habig has set his goals on a good finish, because as they say ‘it’s never over until it’s over’. This year has seen many upsets, often right at the end of the rally, and therefore it is very difficult to make predictions. There are a number of permutations, but there is still an outside chance to finish higher up than 4th at the end of the season.
“I have been very impressed with the Ford Fiesta this season and there have been challenges, not only with adapting to the left-hand, but also with the overall handling and set-up. My team of technicians have built up a sound knowledge over a very short time in preparing the car, and this will give us the edge for the next season. The car is responsive and I have enjoyed all aspects of running a new team,” said Jan. “It is also great for Ford to be ahead in the Manufacturers Award, and I am happy that we could contribute towards this tally.
There is a slight change in the qualifying stage which will be held near the Garden Route Mall, and this will be run not only for the top ten competitors but the other competitors as well. The event starts at 09h30 on Friday 2 November, with the finish at the Wilderness Beach Hotel on Saturday afternoon – that is when speculation will stop and the 2012 Season Champions will be crowned.