Lining up for the final stage of the Tzaneen Rally, Team TOTAL’s Mohammed Moosa and co-driver Andre Vermeulen both breathed a sigh of relief. Second position overall, with two hard-fought stage victories in the bag, Moosa’s Toyota Auris S2000 rocketed off the start line for stage six and blast through the twisting turns to deftly pitch his rally car into the apexes at maximum speed and tear down the straights fearlessly at top speed.
With the dust still hanging thickly in the air behind them, Moosa and Vermeulen stopped their car for the final time in the rally. Congratulations and cheers rang out from their Service Park spot: second place is worthy of a celebration, but this one was made all the more special for Moosa’s Auris S2000 was but a bare car bodyshell only seven days before. The accomplishment of not only reaching the finish but in claiming a podium position after a week of monumental mechanical challenges for the privateer crew made this result truly rewarding. For South African National Rally Championship contender Moosa, this round of the Northern Regions Rally Championship tested the experience and expertise of Moosa and his technical team. It was an exercise of their focus, mechanical methodology and unwavering perseverance.
After the Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally, round three on the 2013 National Rally calendar, Moosa’s Toyota Auris S2000’s body required a complete rebuild. On the final stage of this high-speed rally, the slightest of mistakes saw Moosa and Vermeulen roll their rally car. However, spectators were quick to right their stricken car to enable them to cross the final finish line to record sixth place overall and claim the coveted S2000 Challenge Class victory. Unfortunately, the crumpled, crushed and crinkled bodywork of the Auris S2000 carried the battle scars of this dramatic fight.
A new bodyshell was ordered from Hallspeed, Toyota Motorsport’s contracted service provider, and it was sent directly to a panelbeater on 17 June. Only on 22 June did the bodyshell and chassis arrive at Moosa’s workshop near Tzaneen for rebuilding. Chief mechanic Deon and his assistants Simon and Moses diligently and determinedly threw themselves to the task of re-equipping Moosa’s Team TOTAL Toyota Auris S2000 for duty on the Volkswagen Rally, the next round of the 2014 South African National Rally Championship.
As the hours and days passed, Moosa set a new target for the crew: the Tzaneen Rally on that Saturday, 29 June. The entrepreneur added his skills to the task too to meet this tight deadline, and the car quickly began to take shape as the Team TOTAL rally weapon much feared and admired on the national rally stages. On the morning of Thursday 27 June, the rally car was fired up for the first time in its new body. A little over 24 hours later, and Moosa was strapped into the driver’s seat with his helmet and gloves on and lining up for a shakedown run in his newly-built rally racer. What’s more, the team too was fired up and prepared for the Tzaneen Rally!
This team’s “home” rally saw Moosa and co-driver Vermeulen take to the event’s first stage three minutes late due to unforeseen circumstances. This never rattled the cool and calm heads in the rally car, as they literally knuckled down to business to they scorch through the stages to reel in the lost time to their rivals.
Japie van Niekerk and co-driver Gerhard Snyman took the event’s early lead and held off Moosa to claim the rally victory. Van Niekerk too is a National Rally competitor, and used this event to debut his new Ford Fiesta S2000, a newer and more powerful rally car. The Team TOTAL pairing closed to 01min 56sec to the winners, including their time penalty for starting the opening stage late. Both in the S2000 Challenge class in the National Rally Championship, this rivalry will most certainly enter its second phase in this weekend’s Volkswagen Rally.
In its new bodyshell and livery, the Team TOTAL Toyota Auris S2000 shone on the stages. Not a moment’s worry for the crew or car, the Tzaneen Rally offered the team a worthy practice session. Every kilometres completed, Moosa and Vermeulen gain in confidence and knowledge. They have proven their potential to mix with the top ten on National events, they are moving higher and higher up the leader board each event. In this sport, where mechanical and human come together, it is a team effort to bring the rally to the first stage, through the event and to its finish. This experience has bonded Moosa’s team even more, and they have a renewed energy and determination for the remainder of the season.
Now with a a few days to go before the start of the Volkswagen Rally, Moosa and his team are focused and ready for this National Championship encounter