The first round of the national rally championship season produced the first podium finish for the Volkswagen Sasolracing team.
Hans Weijs Jnr and Björn Degandt, in their first event back in South Africa, claimed their first podium finish for the year.
“The stages here in KwaZulu-Natal are quite slippery,” says Weijs. “We made notes on our recce pass and used those for the first of the stages, pushing harder on the second run. Running first on the road on Friday was quite taxing but we made sure to keep our times quite close to the leaders. It feels good claiming a podium in this event, we are on a good level and think we will be pushing from stage one at the next rally.”
The Tour Natal provided high temperatures and high humidity levels in addition to the slippery and loose gravel surfaces to challenge the competitors.
“This event is notoriously tough with difficult road conditions,” says Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “Hans and Björn did very well on Friday, but sweeping the roads at the head of the field certainly took its toll in terms of time. Henk Lategan and Pierre Arries are doing well, their partnership solidified tremendously after the first day and we could see the increase in pace today. Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin showed a lot of pace and this shows real promise for them the rest of the season.”
Day two of the Tour Natal saw Lategan and Arries always within the top five at the end of each stage, on a strong charge for a podium result.
“Running wide on a corner in the second-last stage, we beached the car,” says Henk. “The surfaces here are so slippery that if you get it just a little bit off the line, things can go wrong quickly. Overall it wasn’t a bad rally and Pierre and I are working well together. I think it will take a few more rallies to get up to speed, but it is going well.”
Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin finished the Tour Natal as a Super Rally entry, both very positive of their new Volkswagen Polo S2000.
“This is a whole new way of driving,” says Zulu. “The brakes, the suspension, the grip, the level of control is just so different, so advanced over the previous generation we raced last year. I still need to build full confidence, but the car is amazing and I hope to get to grips with it very quickly.”