Dealerfloor has taken up a challenge by Paolo Gouveia, head mechanic of Toyota Gazoo’s multiple SA rally champion team, Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle, to join the Natal Rally Club’s (NRC) “picnic runs”.
The regional champion drifter and rally racer explained the club’s veteran members, many of whom competed at national level, are on a mission to make motorsport affordable again by hosting monthly Rally Tests, or “picnic runs”, in the scenic Midlands.
While winners only get local bragging rights, these picnic runs are formal racing events that require all entrants to adhere to normal racing safety protocols and the new norm of social distancing. KZN champion rally navigator and driver Dean Redelinhuys said he now only races in the picnic rallies because motorsport has become prohibitively expensive, due in no small part to high fees to compete at national level.
“Here the entry fee is only R350, which covers the marshalls, electronic time keeping, paramedic, firefighters and even a trophy if you win.”
He said the NMC’s Rally Tests have a Clubmans class for stock standard cars, but the club also welcomes quad bikes and scramblers. “While some teams arrive with ex-works cars on trailers and are highly competitive and professional, drivers in the Clubman class always seem to have the most fun,” Redelinhuys said.
He complimented Dealerfloor on entering a stock standard Daewoo Matiz “and still nailing it with good times” despite the little hatch’s “Marie-biscuit tyres”.
Mechanic-navigator Lunga Sibiya pointed out the “mighty Matiz” was not 100% stock standard. “We added not one but two VW GFS systems. It stands for Variable Width Go Faster Stripes — and they seem to work! We were at least as fast as the diesel bakkie that measured out the course,” he said.
The defending clubman champion, Braam van der Merwe, a mechanic and a race marshall, brings an even slower Fiat Uno to the track. Van der Merwe said for him it’s not about the winning, but being able to put foot on a smooth road, safe in the knowledge that a sweeper car will pick up any pieces that fell off — and that there is no oncoming tractor around the corner.
Timing official and former competitor Megan Stow said the club’s aim with the affordable rally days is to put the “all” back into rallying.
“Formal motorsport has become so expensive that only those with deep pockets can compete. By making a safe rally stage affordable, we hope to put the ‘all’ back into ‘rally’ so that enthusiastic drivers can enjoy the thrill of a few fast corners in safe surroundings,” she said.
Gouveia, the fastest driver on the day, said all mechanics and panel beaters in KZN owe it to themselves to bring their cars and join the fun.
“We call them picnic runs, because that’s what the family does under the oak trees while we race in the sugar cane,” said Gouveia
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