Slippery on Tarmac @ 10th Flamingo’s Langebaan Gymkhana

10th Flamingos Gymkhana 2011 RouteWork was frantic on the VW front within the camp. Power steering on the Golf and Fox was the only topic discussed, luckily for me Ruan returned back from his absent due to work commitments in Zambia, at least now I have someone to talk about building our two big project cars, but later more about that. Mike and Jan toyed with the idea of power steering on a VW Golf MK1 shell for a long time and finally decided that they had enough of trying to turn 7″ and 8″ slicks in anger, the time has come for power steering, Jan volunteered to take his motor and gearbox out to help the design process for the modifications, after allot of measurements they could start. Mike spend endless hours in front of the computer designing all the mounting brackets and hardware for the kit to work, after the positive feedback Jan provided after the 5th Fairbridge Mall Brackenfell Gymkhana where he used his newly installed power steering for the first time, Mike started with the Fox, having to make a few changes due to different donor racks, everything looked on track to have the Fox turning with ease at the Piketberg Gymkhana.

Since Ruan’s returned the two of us tried at every possible occasion to catch up on all the car and life related discussions that we missed out on the last two years. Seeing as his car is the one that started this whole idea of racing was standing on blocks half way stripped, there was no possibility for him to use it to compete, Mike was generous enough to allow him to use “Lil Datto” to have some fun with us. Having a set of extra rims and slicks he no longer was going to use on the new and improved Escort, he had there PCD changed for use on “Lil Datto”, this however meant the two off us had some work to do to use these wheels on the “Lil”. The amount I extended the track on the car makes it difficult to use wheels with almost no offset. At the end of the day we had to cut a little more out of the front part of the fenders to get them turning to the maximum at full down travel.

Selina unfortunately injured her back on Friday and was unable to compete, every time I got to the gazebo I could see the pure frustration on her face, sitting and watching everyone else compete was getting the better of her. A few physio sessions later and she will be able to compete at the next event.

Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 2nd in Class F and 15th Overall

23F Herman and Mike Mathee (2)_0.jpgMy track record at all the events that I participated at Flamingo’s speak for themselves, this isn’t my favourite venue and for some or other reason I just can’t do to good here, maybe it is the surface, slicks not working or just pure driver errors like hurting my arm and then driving over tyres, route errors, I don’t know. This particular route had in everything that I love in a route, fast flowing sections into slow and technical corners etc., a little bit of slow and fast sections is always nice. The route was covered with a new layer of asphalt, something we all looked forward to, as the old asphalt was prone to very high tyre wear. The first few cars onto the route posted some very good times, but from about the 5th car we started seeing the asphalt breaking up and getting the characteristics of a gravel road. As Pietie was only coming thru later on the day I had to navigate for Mike, his starting position is 10 and right from the get go, we noticed that the route had no whatsoever grip. This had me going for a while as “Lil Datto” is quite tail happy exiting a corner when stepping on the gas to much, with the gravel conditions this was either going to be a lot of fun or a huge frustration.

The 1st round went well considering the grip levels, the time was in line with the other fast class F runners, knowing there is huge potential for improvement as the run was very conservative to get a feel for it. Ruan went out with me next to him for his first time this year and also his first time with “Lil”, I must say with a little encouragement from my side he really started driving the car as a RWD should be driven, tight lines with the rear on the border of stepping out. Standing in the line for the start, me and Mike had a discussion around keeping the lines tight to get the times lower. Pulling away and on the route everything went well with Mike keeping me in line very nicely, the rear shifting only marginally from time to time, keeping everything under control and what felt quite fast, then all of a sudden I made a mistake entering a left hander to wide and all hell broke loose when I shifted

to second not realising I was off the clear line starting to form. Once the clutch pedal was completely released and my right foot totally down on the fuel pedal the rear stepped out at which was around 60km/h, Mike shouting all sorts of things at me that sounded quite strange, as he was sitting in the suicide seat it probably looked rather bad from his viewing point as we were approaching a tyre barrier on the right. Luckily I just kept my foot planted in a desperate effort to get the “Lil” under control, once this was done we over shot the braking point by at least 2m, with a combination of a poor man’s ABS braking, Mike on the handbrake we made it, a little wide but safe, the video footage was going to be interesting.

IMG_0228_0.JPGSeeing that the route was cleaning and a racing line was forming on the gravel, times started coming down, as we posted a time 2seconds faster than the first run. We were allowed a fourth run on the day, I was lying in fourth at the end of round 3. We went out not really trying to post a even better time, just wanted to drive the car to its limits as fast as we and the route would allow; and this is exactly what happened, we posted the second fastest time for class F for the day and brought “Lil Datto” home in 2nd position for the day with Ruan marginally behind me in 3rd. I must say he really adopted quit fast to the lesser power levels of “Lil” compared to his Escort. This was the best day of racing this year, hopefully the rest of the events can also compare to this memorable event.

Jan van der Vyver’s view:
Jan van der Vyver and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Golf 1.4i – 1st in Class D and 10th Overall

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Mike Mathee and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 2nd in Class D and 11th Overall

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Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 3rd in Class F and 16th Overall

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Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 3rd in Class D and 21st Overall

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Rudolf Marais and Mike Mathee in Class F Mazda 616 – 6th in Class F

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