Tour Natal sends Ford up in Flames

Burnt Ford FiestaThis past weekend saw the cane fields of KZN’s north and south coast’s host the opening round of the National Rally Championship for 2010. And while it was all systems go for the well known VW and Toyota works teams, some were not so lucky.

Hergen Fekken, the reigning South African champion, started just how he left off last season – in stunning form. The BP Volkswagen Polo driver didn’t put a foot wrong and drove a controlled, yet extremely quick rally to end the weekend with a commanding lead over second placed Enzo Kuun. Rounding off the top three was the Toyota of Mark Cronje.

All competitors who actually made the finish at Suncoast Casino on Sunday afternoon would consider themselves lucky. In fact they probably popped into the casino to ride out whatever luck they may have had left if you consider only 21 of the starting 41 finished the event.

Most notable exits include Schalk Burger who rolled his RunX down a bank into a river. Fortunately some lively spectators managed to roll the wreck on its side so as to prevent the occupants drowning. Mohammed Moosa wouldn’t have enjoyed his first run in the S2000 class as he ended his event with an end-over-end roll which broke his collar bone.

The headline however points towards the eagerly awaited S2000 Basil Read Ford Fiesta. A car put together by none Burnt Fiestaother than Malcolm Wilson (the Ford WRC team manager). Rumoured by a handful of uneducated spectators and commentators to have cost R 3 million (FIA regulations stipulate a selling price of no more than €168,000…you do the maths), Charl Wilken was quickly getting to grips with his expensive new piece of equipment. However it all went up in flames…literally.

Reports are at this stage unconfirmed however leaking brake fluid has been the most popular theory thus far. A locking right rear wheel was also considered the culprit. Either way this was a serious blow for Ford’s comeback to South African rallying.

The Tour constituted a rather rough start to the season then. Leaving most competitors with hopeful wishes that things can only get better from here on in. We’ll find out on 26-27 March when the Toyota Dealer Rally kicks off in Caledon.

Final Standings:

  1. Hergen Fekken 116.43.8
  2. Enzo Kuun 117.08.7
  3. Mark Cronje 117.54.0
  4. Conrad Rautenbach 118.29.2
  5. Japie van Niekerk 119.23.8
  6. Nicholas Ryan 121.13.3
  7. JP Damseaux 121.16.5
  8. Jan Habig 121.50.4
  9. Fernando Rueda 121.57.0
  10. Theuns Joubert 121.35.6

 

Miles Downard

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