All posts by Herman Mathee

Datto’s First Track Day

Saturday we took Datto to Killarney racetrack for it’s very first test session during one of their Track days. We probably could not have chosen a better day to do testing especially if the goal of the testing was to make sure all temperatures stayed within the limits while driving the car hard. The weather reports stated it was 34°, all I know it was 30° that evening at 12 o’clock. It was extremely hot and seeing that one of the things that we wanted to test was our safety equipment.


A two layer race suit, Nomex balaclava, racing shoes, gloves and helmet does create a oven like feeling when sitting still in the car while not moving, once you are moving along and shifting up and down thru the gears, the heat is non existent, check for clothing being comfortable, just need to figure out a way to get out of the suit.

The mechanical side of the car performed perfectly. No vibrations, no strange noises besides the high pitch sound when the cams is activated, just for the record, I hate this sounds the SR20VE motor makes with the activated sound, probably the reason why they did not fit this motor to allot of every day cars, luckily for us we had helmets on a the sound of a decent in helmet intercom distracting us from the sound. We had no issues with water, oil or powers steering fluid ending on the outside of their intended containers. The temperatures stayed with in limits and quite low in my opinion, I could just consider fitting a thermostat with a lower opening temperature rating.

Highest Readings:
Oil Temp: 98°
Engine Coolant Temp: 87°
Intake Air Temp: 37°

Brakes, besides the sound these Wilwood Polymatrix E compound makes, brakes are very strong with the ability to out brake a few cars. The squeal on these things is terrible, before the track day, they only squealed while applying the brakes very softly, like coming to a stop at a robot, but after a few heat cycles on the track they squeal permanently, especially under hard and soft braking but not at moderate braking, as they want to tell you navigator when you aren’t hard on the brakes.

The suspension felt good, I was able to quickly gain confidence in the handling and start pushing into corners, in the high speed corners the car felt great, even when pulling the handbrake thru Malmesbury corner ( a high speed combination of two corners that is driven as one, seeing they follow each other closely), once you feel the back break loose just apply a small amount of counter steer and feed in the power and the slide is easily controlled, needles to say my navigator was caught by surprise as his instruction to me was take the corner I felt the most at ease with, he did not realize that was my favored corner.

The only problem was what we expect to be a bad Lambda sensor which in turn provides the management with bad data resulting in a lean air/fuel mixture while using more than half throttle for longer than 2-3 seconds. The strange part to it is the fact that the injector duty cycle seems normal for the amount of load on the motor.

All in all I’m very satisfied with the overall reliability of the car, it seems that the car could go for hours on a end, the only sad part is the fact that I could nor drive the car full throttle as I would have liked, but the time will come. It is a nice feeling to stop the car in the pits after the last round, get out of the race suit and drive the car home. Now that I’m happy with the reliability, it time to sort the small issues and hit the gravel for some real fun and games.

Clothes Trolleys

During the course of 2013, every month in the one corner a strange bender called a Rotary Drawn bender was taking shape. This weird looking bender was mounted vertically to minimize the space needed around it to operate, having a hydraulic cylinder mounted to it definitely helps to retain the strength in the arms and help keeping the mind focused on the numbers to make the bend perfect.

For the last couple of months since the bender reached phase 1, a few test bends were made and the results were amazing compared to any non mandrel benders out there, especially available in South Africa. We either had to live with crush bends normally associated with exhausts shops or mandrel bends costing a arm and a leg.

We were so pleased with the results of the bender, we immediately decided to start expanding the tools needed to make more dyes. Currently only 25mm OD with a 38mm dye on it’s way and invested a huge amount of money in the very popular Bend-Tech Pro pipe and tube bending software to aid in making more precise parts.

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We were approached by a small shop on the outskirts of Worcester, to bend some 25mm tube for them that would be used for clothes trolleys. Being very straight forward, 90 degree bends, we used the Bend-Tech Pro software in order to keep the waste to a minimum and each part exact. Just look at the amazing results achieved by the bender. The bender is even able to bend to 18 degrees which could prove to be very helpful when building a header.

Car Boat Truck Mechanical & Bodyworks

Car Boat Truck Mechanical & Bodyworks came on board as a bodywork sponsor, they will keep their eye on all bodywork to keep Datto looking neat.

The owner Chris Gillomee did not waste any time in getting his hands onthe car or should I rather say pieces of it. I dropped the flares at Chris and he immediately knew exactly what I had in mind and jumped at the opportunity to mix up a special batch of Matt Black, a few days later the paint was cured and on first site I was very happy, the relationship between matt and a slight sheen was perfect, thanks Chris and the whole team from Car Boat Truck Mechanical & Bodyworks out in Triangle Farm that made this possible.

Please give Chris Gillomee a call if you need any bodywork or mechanical work done on 021 949 3636 or send an email to the address in the picture.
 
While you’re at the shop ask Chris to show you his pet project Tiger 1.

Ford Escort MKII Adjustable Monotube Gravel Shock

Some goodies arrived from the pommies, but they forgot to add the springs for the front units.

2 x Gaz GMO-368RBT – Ford Escort MKII Adjustable Front Monotube Gravel Shock
2 x Gaz GP6-2069 – Ford Escort MKII Adjustable Rear Monotube Gravel Shock

These are Ford Escort MKII Adjustable Monotube Gravel Shock Un

its, basically the same spec Bilstein units that were run on the legendary MKII of the late 70's and 80's but the shocks is adjustable. A friend and I will use the same setups, viagra pills thus we will need less spares between the two of us, also making playing with imported springs easier on the pocket.
You will also notice these are all steel, ALU does not last to long on a gravel car.

Current spring rates will be 250 lbs/in front and 225 lbs/in rear for the initial setup until I have a

better idea of what I'm doing on the gravel, all springs will be 12″ long with a 2.25″ ID with a helper spring to assist with keeping tension on the main springs in the event of some airtime.

Now the fun starts to build new lower control arms, top mounts, spacers and steering arms.

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2011 Wings and Wheels

Let me try and explain why this event was by far my most favourite one.

Witzenberg Motor Club Gymkhana series competitors was invited to come and entertain the visitors at the 2011 Ysterplaat Wings and Wheels Air show. No results, no official racing etc. just pure fun, this meant we would have to take members of the press, media and radio personalities around the gymkhana course. We heard rumours of the event early in the year and started saving the old tyres, the best idea to date. A few off us decided to take leave for the Friday as the event was over two days. Friday morning early arriving at Ysterplaat was more or less the same as any other Gymkhana race, besides the fact that we were treated as VIP members as we were issued with security passes etc. We quickly found a space and started prepping the vehicles, for the Friday we had the Golf, Fox and Datsun and quickly sorted them out, it was such a relaxed atmosphere that I even had time to play around with springs and a few other bits, hell I even decided to test “Datto’s” steering wheel on the Datsun, the steering wheel just fitted out with the buttons “Datto’ will need, more of this later. After we had walked and learned the track, I was off to the rally teams, as this was my opportunity to get back what I have been putting into their sport over the last 3 years doing radio communication for them. Today I was going to sit in the suicide seat of these vehicles, come hi or low.

During drivers briefing the rules was explained, safety first and take as much media around the track as possible. What, are your serious, take as much media around the track as possible, Yes was the answer, ok, let me get this correct, does this mean we have unlimited runs, Yes was the answer again. Well that thought took the rest of drivers briefing to completely sunk in. Honestly I can’t remember what was said after that. We waited a while until the official go ahead was given from the organizers and we started lining up. The route was on a cement slap and only one corner was on tar, having had the opportunity in the past to compete on a cement surface, I knew it could be tricky, thus I opted to go out with one of our regular navigators first to get a feel for it. At this point we basically finished our run and got in line again. This went on and on for the rest of the day, Mike unfortunately had to leave to attend a work function which left the Fox standing around for Selina to abuse for the rest of the day, and me. He just asked us to keep the car in one piece and look after the tyres.

We continued to torture the vehicle around the route, Jan had his first taste of the Datsun, Selina went around in it, while I laughed myself silly while navigating for them, Selina had the poor car jerking around the track, Jan was to slow turning the steering wheel, etc. All this while we enjoyed the aircraft in the air, adding a nice distraction from the norm. The Fox went so many times around the track that the front rubber was busy disappearing, well Mike said we should look after the tyres, so I swapped the fronts with the rears, this would show him that we care, at least now we can get the new rubber in the front showing the same wear as the rears, and off we went. Jan also took the Fox around and Selina kept the car busy, to the end of the day I navigated a round for Selina and I started noticing the rear braking away slightly, the thought popped into my mind that today will be the day I’ll enjoy a FWD car. A few seconds later Selina and I swopped seats and I was behind the wheel of this FWD car, seeing that the first few corners was relative slow speed, I could only feel the back moving slightly, once we entered the fast corners the fun started, as you turned the steering wheel to enter a corner, you immediately had to counter steer to keep the nose in the correct direction, pure fun. This is what happens if you provide a bunch of super competitive people to give something back, the end result, everyone has fun.

I completely forgot about the rally teams. damn I missed my opportunity. Not yet, we heard they will be going out again, all in the bakkie and into the convey taking as thru the planes to the special stage. Here we were told to stand in line as the press gets first honours, man was I annoyed, bloody press, they had there opportunity throughout the day. Well we sat around watching the action as one after the other the press was going around, just as i thought our change is coming, the Army Uncle shut us down as the rally cars was making too much dust. Luckily this was only temporary. That was it, the bloody press had there order viagra online fun, while I was seriously not happy, but being a grown up, well sometimes, I was plotting my revenge. If the dust settles and the army uncle allow the cars to continue I’ll get my suicide seat.

I thought to myself, I’m a pretty outspoken person, I do not care which celebrity press person is in line, he will have to add his eggs in a basket to weight them against my 150+ hours of doing radio communication for these people. Then the call came, you can open the stage, and all the cars was occupied, Ashley Haigh-Smith retuning from the stage, he properly saw that I was about to open my own press conference, stopped at the start and showed me to come. I had to pinch myself, here I was going to go a on a special stage with one of the countries hot young talent. All strapped up and ready to start, sitting there waiting for the count down, I had a sense of fear, but this is what these rally drivers do best, drive on gravel. Off we went in the React A6 Toyota Corolla, thru the gears approaching a decently sharp 90, I thought to myself, Ashley it is time to brake, a few meters further, ok it’s too late, maybe it’s time to call a tow truck, if we were on tarmac we would have been fine in my opinion, but this being gravel no way are we going to make it, he got on the brakes hard, a few shifts down, on the brakes again, getting the car ready for his desired line, while on the brakes he applied throttle and he got us thru, these gravel tires is something else. The rest of the stage I had to remind myself to look up as I was concentrating on his foot work. What an experience.

The day ended with the Datsun destroying 2 semi’s and another two half way dead. The Fox on the other hand had chewed its way thru 4 slicks, at least the damage was the same on all 4 as I made pretty sure about that, I was told to look after them. On our way back, I met Mike half way home, he quickly went home after his function to collect 4 fresh slicks for the next day after I told him the news. At this stage we didn’t really bother about the amount off tyres we were using, the amount off fun and the feeling you get when you give something back outweighs the money for rubber, we would safe rubber next year.

Saturday morning arrived, again we were at the venue quite early, way too early for competitors who’s cars are all in order and know the route. We decided to walk thru all the stands and hangers while Ruan had to learn the track. Once we got back the pits was packed, a big part of the Gymkhana troops was visible between rally car, drifters, hotrods etc. We knew that the amount off runs was going to be limited, not like yesterday’s 25+. In the back off my mind I was quite happy as now there was other people to entertain and I could focus on the Rally special stage. Again I went to the teams, and this time round I told them to notify me when they will be going as I need to experience these road going gravel machines again. We had a few runs on the Gymkhana track, I even navigated for one of the cars from the Franschoek Motor Museum, I think it was some sort of a MG, and as you would have expected from a British car, it died.

The call come, I rallied the troops from Race-Tech and we left in convoy for the Rally Stage. Manie Amlay agreed to me on the special stage, he just had to take 1 or 2 of the media chaps around, while we were waiting I arranged with him that when it is my change, that he will first take Selina around, this left her with no time to think about the terror on the way, she just had to strap herself in the seat. Once all strapped in, off they went, on their return we were greeted with smiles, what a relief she made it and loved it. Next in line it was my turn, but I told Mike he must be standing ready once we return. We sat off on the slightly changed route, now a little longer, once we reached the first 90 Left, it was very apparent that we were in a N3 machine, this Toyota RunX needed more time to brake, but again, the tyres had a shocking amount of grip on the gravel. On arrival Mike was ready for his run, on return I could tell he was impressed. I also managed to secure a run for Corne with Manie, on her return she was blushing from ear to ear.

We returned to the gymkhana action, and to our amazement, the queue was shorter and we managed a few final runs on the route. Manie even asked me to navigate for him in the rally car, we completed 2 runs and it was very apparent that these machines is built for gravel and not tight corners on tarmac.

We ended the day on a high. I would just like to thank everyone involved in making this

event a reality, it is indeed very nice to give something back to the community and then a special thanks to Ashley and Manie for providing us with the opportunity to experience a rally car on a special stage.

Picture Gallery: 2011 Wings and Wheels

Witzenberg Motor Club 2011 Awards Evening

The Witzenberg Motor Club annual awards took place at De Kelder Restaurant and Winery Vredekloof on Friday evening 2nd December 2011.

Ashley Haigh-Smith (in 2012 he’ll be competing in the WRC Academy with a M-Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta R2) and Jon Williams (Pirelli Star Driver Championship winner and currently competing in the South African Rally Championship in a M-Sport-built S2000 Ford Fiesta under the Sasol Racing colours) was the guest speakers at the function.

It was an astounding year for us as a team, we have grown from 2 friends looking for something to do with a Zetec powered MKII Ford Escort Sport and a rust bucket off a Datsun 1400 bakkie to a group of friends. We currently have 6 vehicles, 7 drivers and 8 navigators. Next year we will add another 3 vehicles and at least 2 new drivers and navigators. With this amount of passionate people, we will have between 15-20 entries per event, not to bad I think. Three years passed and we as a team are just growing from strength to strength, maybe in the next two years, we should ask the organisers to rebrand the championship to the Race-Tech Gymkhana Series. Won’t that be a problem, I think the team will then feel obligated to enter at least another entry per event. The poor vehicles.

It was a great year, I would just like to thank a few people:

Witzenberg Motor Club – without you and the people behind the scenes all our smiles and joy wouldn’t have been possible.

Selina Botes – without your constant support and forgiveness, this season would have been a distant memory, this was a particular tough year on us and our relationship, considering

the building of “Datto”.

Pieter Mathee (father) – without your help “Datto” would still be a dream.

Judy Mathee (mother) – two years of feeding me since “Datto” entered our lives, thanks.

Mike Mathee – thanks for offering “Lil Datto” to me to compete, all the effort and money you spend in getting the car ready for the season is appreciated.

Ruan Reynders – it was about time you return back to South Africa, at least we can now look back at all the misery we are causing for the rest of the car owners in the team because we entered that first gymkhana.

Race-Tech members – a special thanks must go out to you as a team, it is great that a bunch of friends can enjoy a single form of sport together as we do, we are probably the most disfunctional group of friends on the face of the world. Just imagine we are all together having a nice conversation about the season and a stranger want to join in, poor soul if he is not into motorsport. Some off the highlights for me during the season must be all the smiles, laughs and concentrating faces to keep that FWD vehicles in check. Mike sorry for trying to kill you at Flamingo’s, the moment the rear stepped out to the time I was on the brakes is a blur, luckily we made it and had the biggest smiles on our faces to date. We as a team can just go forward from this date. Let’s make next year even more memorable as this one, especially with new friends like Corne and Nico joining us as drivers and navigators. Maybe we should make “We are not being paid to drive, we are doing the paying, thus we should enjoy it” our slogan. Keep the smiles rolling.

Teams performance during the WBMK Gymkhana Championship 2011 season

Overall Drivers
Position Name Vehicle Class
11th Herman Mathee Datsun 1200 F
12th Mike Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
13th Jan van der Vyver VW Golf 1.4i D
15th Pietie Erasmus VW Fox 1.4i D
29st Ruan Reynders Datsun 1200 F
33rd Bjorn Venter VW Golf 1.4i D
53rd Mike Mathee Datsun 1200 F
64th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
66th Rudolf Marai Mazda 616 F
69th Selina Botes VW Fox 1.4i D
74th Ruan Reynders Ford Focus ST G
Overall Navigators
Position Name Vehicle Class
9th Mike Mathee Datsun 1200 F
11th Mike Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
15th Pietie Erasmus VW Fox 1.4i D
16th Herman Mathee VW Golf 1.4i D
28th Herman Mathee Datsun 1200 F
36th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
41st Mike Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
55th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
62nd Bjorn Venter VW Golf 1.4i D
69th Selina Botes VW Fox 1.4i D
70th Mike Mathee Mazda 616 F
77nd Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
84th Herman Mathee Ford Focus ST G
Class Drivers
Position Name Vehicle Class
1st Mike Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
2nd Jan van der Vyver VW Golf 1.4i D
3rd Pietie Erasmus VW Fox 1.4i D
6th Bjorn Venter VW Golf 1.4i D
9th Selina Botes VW Fox 1.4i D
10th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
3rd Herman Mathee Datsun 1200 F
4th Ruan Reynders Datsun 1200 F
7th Pietie Erasmus Mazda F1000 F
12th Mike Mathee Datsun 1200 F
13th Rudolf Marais Mazda 616 F
6th Ruan Reynders Ford Focus ST G
Class Navigators
Position Name Vehicle Class
1st Herman Mathee VW Golf 1.4i D
2nd Pietie Erasmus VW Fox 1.4i D
3rd Mike Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
6th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
7th Jan van der Vyver VW Golf 1.4i D
9th Melissa van der Vyver VW Golf 1.4i D
10th Herman Mathee VW Fox 1.4i D
12th Bjorn Venter VW Golf 1.4i D
13th Selina Botes VW Fox 1.4i D
3rd Mike Mathee Datsun 1200 F
4th Herman Mathee Datsun 1200 F
7th Mike Mathee Mazda F100 F
11th Herman Mathee Datsun 1200 F
15th Mike Mathee Mazda 616 F
17th Jan van der Vyver Mazda MX5 F
6th Herman Mathee Ford Focus ST G

Disasters @ 4th Mountain Mill Mall Worcester Gymkhana

This could be described as the one event to date since I started competing in the Witzenberg Gymkhana series as the one to forget. If it wasn't for the fact that at the time I was building “Datto” 30km from the venue, I would've even made it to the starting line with “Lil Datto”, but more of that later. Arriving at the venue, the top 3 in class F (Anton, Kobus and Myself) knew very good that this would be the event that decides the championship standing for the year, being the last event of the year to score championship points did not make it any easier. Between the 3 off us, only 2 points separated us, Anton on 47, Me and Kobus tied on 45, today we were going to enjoy some serious racing.

While getting “Lil Datto” ready for the day’s action, I noticed that the rear left shock was missing a top spring retainer, that was it for the day. In a moment of clarity I remembered about big brother “Datto” and immediately phoned my father that was on his way to borrow a few needed parts from “Datto”, just maybe I could make the parts work and enjoy the rest of the day trouble free, damn was I in for a surprise. Once my father arrived it didn't take long to make a plan and I make the parts work, just as I thought things are looking up, the next disaster struck, this was not my day. I was looking so forward to it, as Mike and I decided to challenge each other in the different class cars, this being a decision we forced ourselves in late at night in Vredendal, seeing that the rest of the team was all dead tired after the Vredendal event, they went to bed earlier, forcing as to enjoy the remainder of the ice. As I was

tightening the one wheel nut, I felt the inevitable, the stud lifted thread, I must say, I properly sat next to the wheel for what seemed like an eternity, this was end, I was not even going to get a change to challenge for the class championship. Soon my father and brother heard the news and we quickly found a solution, strip the parts and remove, this would enable us to install a replacement, well, at the time it was the best idea, we quickly realised that we weren't going to get it out. I had to learn the track and thought walk it once or twice to at least have a sense of direction when going around it in the Fox. Once I returned my father made a quick die with a spare wheel nut. Damn I was impressed, he must have been filling the bloody thing for 30min. We managed to get a nut on the stud. This enabled me to enter, what a relief, but in the back of my mind I was already broken with all the setbacks.

Herman Mathee and Selina Botes in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 3rd in Class D and 21st Overall

Being a person that tries to avoid FWD vehicles as much as possible, driving the Fox for the first time around a gymkhana track only seemed like fun to end the season. As I went thru the first set of right handers I thought to myself, damn these FWD boys have it easy with this power steering and clever suspension setups, I was able to but the car on the desired line corner after corner, it felt as Selina and I was driving on a national road, until we entered a left hander and all off a sudden the bloody car’s rear started bouncing, it felt as if the car wanted to puke a few rear suspension parts out, being a fun entry and I did not know what to do, I did the normal RWD thing and just gave pedal and it seemed to work. We ended the round with not even a droplet off sweat forming, after the first rounds we were in first place in the class. Something we did not expect as I have never competed in a FWD car. On the next round Jan and Pietie started eating me for breakfast as I was just out having fun and tried to

drive the Fox like a RWD, it sure as hell is not the way to go about doing things, I must admit, it was fun to pilot the FWD machine, but I will never make a permanent swop. Personally it is too ease and not that involved like a RWD vehicle, it is just so much more fun in a RWD vehicle, we aren't getting paid to drive, we need to have fun and that is what the RWD provides. Selina and I managed to end the day 3rd in Class D.

Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 3rd in Class D and 23rd Overall

This is actually quite a blur in my mind, seems that for the above reasons I want to forget about the activities in “Lil Datto”. We managed to complete the day without any more drama and luckily the wheels stuck to the car. We did have a huge communication issue on the 3rd and final round for the season, we exited a set of corners and Mike forgot to give the next call, I corrected the mistake and a a few corners the same happened and I decided to stop the round as I was just messing up. We ended 3rd in the class.

Selina Botes and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 6th in Class D and 43rd Overall

Selina came a long way this year, considering this whole Gymkhana thing is new to her. Luckily for me as her navigator she does not try to do the impossible, but rather taking the learning curve event by event.

Jan and Melissa vd Vyver in Class D VW Golf 1.4i – 1st in Class D and 16th Overall

Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 2nd in Class D and 18th Overall

Mike Mathee and Pietie Erasmus in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 4th in Class D and 22nd Overall

Mike Mathee and Herman Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 6th in Class F and 33rd Overall

Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 7th in Class F and 35th Overall

Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 9th in Class F and 41st Overall

Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class G Ford Focus ST – 6th in Class G and 54th Overall

More Photos 4th Mountain Mill Mall Worcester Gymkhana

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Hard work pays @ 5th Lions Vredendal Gymkhana

5th VredendalThe weeks preceding the event was very busy, especially in the home of the two Mathee brothers, we basically spend all our time between work, the garage, bed and Selina made sure we had enough coffee to keep us going. Mike played with a combination of different gearboxes, cams, etc. in the Fox. He either had way too much time on his hands or was determined to make the Fox a more competitive vehicle, I ran out of fingers counting the past 12 evenings he spend underneath that car.

After the Piketberg event, Mike and I decided that “Lil Datto” either needs a lot more rpm or a different differential ratio, as 1st gear was way too short for the straights and 2nd to dead. Between building my new race car “Datto LINK” I managed to source a very special ratio BMW E36 open differential. Luckily for me all the talk on the forums was correct when they stated that the E30 and E36 Medium case differentials use the same internals, this made building a custom ratio E30 Limited slip differential quite easy, poor “Datto” had to sacrifice his differential for the custom unit. Ruan and I spend time under the rear suspension of “Lil Datto” to get this new unit installed, the results was better than we expected, there is a big difference between theory and principle. “Lil Datto” was

so abused at the Piketberg gymkhana that we just had to double check every single suspension bolt, gave it a good rub with polishing cream and polish, at least the little car now looks as if it is only one colour.

A big thanks must go out to Johan Spies from Bergsig Motors 023 3412826 @ Worcester who extended an invitation to Pietie, Mike and myself to transport our vehicles to Vredendal and back, this meant we could drive thru to Vredendal without the worries of towing a vehicle and could have a nice and relaxing drive to Vredendal, the only drawback to this was the fact that everything had to be ready Wednesday evening as we had to take the Fox and Datsun to Worcester Thursday evening were they were loaded the Friday morning for their journey to Vredendal.

Saturday morning started with the usual, 6am wake up, get everything ready for the day. On arrival at the venue we were greeted with quite a surprising fog cover, something one of the locals told us is very uncommon this time of the year, well this was not going to stop us from getting everything ready for the fun to follow later in the day. Selina and Natasha was in charged off the gazebos while the boys kept themselves busy with preparing the vehicles. The usual documentation was finished and the weapon was put to good use learning the track. The use of the bicycle really aids in getting the route faster in your head.

Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 2nd in Class F and 9th Overall

Herman and Mike Class F Datsun 1200Being on an Airfield, we were allowed to warm our tyres and drive train before a run, an opportunity I grasped with open arms as this would’ve been the first opportunity to get a feeling for the new differential with tight turns and hard acceleration. On the start line, looking at the first corner, it really looked very far and I knew we will be sitting on the limiter to the breaking point, we launched, what a surprise, it was must faster and the acceleration was much better than with the previous differential, but this was short leaved as we hit the limiter, which felt like just after the start, we went thru the 1st figure of 8 and on the entry changed to 2nd, this felt very nice as ‘Lil’ really accelerated hard to the next figure of 8, back to 1st and on the entry shifted to 2nd. Drifted the car into the slalom, once at the bottom, Mike quickly realised that I was

way too busy keeping the car on the racing line, he quickly changed the car back to 1st, all I had to do was time the clutch pedal. Entering the slalom, changed to 2nd, thru it and then a hard acceleration thru the last kink to the finish. This being Vredendal and the one course that I really like to test a cars handling and my own abilities, I had a nerves lift going thru the kink. At that point I forgot about the competition and set my own goals for the day as trying to flat foot “Lil” thru the kink.

Herman and Mike Class F Datsun 1200-1We ended the round with a 1:04.95. With the goal set, the 2nd round was all about flat footing “Lil” thru the kink, moving thru the route went as previous, only with me trying to change back to 1st coming out of the slalom, which was to slow, on our way back to the finish i almost got the feeling Mike was getting ready for the fact that his little brother is really going to tackle the kink and flat foot it, well he was quite right, I had my mind set at flying thru the kink on the limiter at 78km/h, and that was exactly what we did. Goal achieved for the weekend. Round 3 was almost exactly the same thing, how fast can we enter the kink and sit on the limiter to the end. We flow thru that thing, surprising more than one person with the superb handling and braking capabilities of “Lil Datto”. Only then I realised that the day was at an end, I must admit, Kobus Wilson was untouchable on this specific route, if only I started concentrating at driving the complete route and not only the kink, maybe just maybe I could have tried chasing him. The day ended with a 2nd in class position and 9th overall.

I even managed to get “Lil Datto” as the photo on an article on Motorsport South Africa’s website, follow the link to the article: http://www.motorsport.co.za/News/DisplayNewsItem.aspx?niid=11105

Mike Mathee and Pietie Erasmus in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 1st in Class D and 5th Overall

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Bjorn Venter and Jan van der Vyver in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 2nd in Class D and 7th Overall

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Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 3rd in Class D and 10th Overall

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Jan van der Vyver and Bjorn Venter in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 4th in Class D and 16th Overall

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Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 4th in Class F and 17th Overall

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Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class G Ford Focus ST– 3rd in Class G and 34th Overall

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Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class F Mazda F1000 – 5th in Class F and 36th Overall

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Selina Botes and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 7th in Class D and 43rd Overall

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Thanks to all the sponsors, marshals for making this event the highlight on the calendar.

Bjorn achieves a personal goal @ 3rd Piketberg Gymkhana

3rd Piketberg Gymkhana RouteThe weeks preceding the event went by like all the other, check and prepare the vehicles, except Mike fitting power steering to his VW Fox. Everything went smoothly with the installation with one or two issues presenting themselves, understandable if you consider the MK1 Golf/Fox shell was never intended to utilize power steering. Saturday morning 6 o’clock arrived and we started our little journey to Piketberg, on our way to the little town we noticed outside temperatures of 3.5degrees, luckily we packed enough warm clothes to battle the temperatures.

On arrival at the Piketberg Municipal Testing Grounds, we found ourselves a very nice location next to the start/finish on the Piketberg hospital grounds which served as the pits for the day, this allowed us to have out Gazebo’s next to the vehicles which helps allot especially with the vehicles being used multiple times on a specific round with different drivers and navigators. We went about the usual, setup the gazebo’s unpack the gears etc., then moved onto the vehicles. A frames were removed, racing tyres installed and all necessary suspension changes made to accommodate the short bumpy route, seeing that it was so cold outside; tyre temperatures was very high on the list of preparation work. Being the first time that the Race-Tech crew were participating at the event, everything was new to us.

Pietie unfortunately had to cancel his entry with the Mazda F due to improvements currently being done on the vehicle, due to this he could focus on his FWD entry with Mike next to him.

Bjorn Venter and Jan van der Vyver in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 1st in Class D and 1st Overall

51D Björn Venter - Jan van der Vyver (1)_0.jpgJan at last convinced Bjorn to start competing again and what a result he achieved with on his return, Bjorn drove magnificently throughout the day, the two of us even disputed his first time and was under the impression he received an incorrect time and waited for round 2, if he could match the time we knew the 1st one was valid. He finished his second round 2 seconds faster than the first round and to make matters worse for the quicker classes was that his time was one of the best for the day in a 1400 powered vehicle which left the rest shell shocked. To sum it up Bjorn slightly bettered his 2nd round time with round 3 and took overall victory on the day, 2seconds faster than the overall championship leader Izak van Zyl piloting the Dynotech turbocharged VW Golf. Quite frankly a shocking surprise but well deserved.

Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 1st in Class F and 6th Overall

23F Herman and Mike Mathee (3)_0.jpgHaving been a quit day for me on the navigating side with only 3 vehicles, which was 6 positions from each other provided me the opportunity to watch some gymkhana for the first time in the last 2 seasons. After making some improvements on the Datsun’s camber/castor plates setup time was reduced considerably. Luckily for me Mike went out on the route before me and could provide with some vital information regarding the track conditions and a few heads-up. We launched nicely, as we moved thru the middle section of the course it became apparent that today is the day that the “Lil Datto” is going to spend a lot of time at 7500 rpm. The first run I used to get familiar with the route and track conditions. On our way from one corner to the next we were sitting on the limiter in 1st, just tapping of at corner entry and then the same all over again. We finished the route with a time of 1:15.26, which we were actually happy with as we knew their isn’t a lot more in the car. This time placed us in 4th in class after round 1. As I did my duties as a navigator the track became warmer and warmer, which could definitely been seen by the other competitors times.
We entered round 2 with the impression that if we could match or slightly better the time we would be happy as we just didn’t have the legs with the car and changing to 2nd could become a problem. We drove thru the route with the car more on the limits, actually started to feel quite sad for the poor thing, but being a A series Datsun motor that thought quickly disappeared. We finished the route with a very impressive improvement and ended posting a time of 1:11.26, which we found quite astonishing. This time promoted us to 1st in class provisionally.
23F Herman and Mike Mathee (2)_1.jpgStanding in the line waiting to get to the start was probably the most nerve wrecking to date, as I was currently leading class F with Mike’s car and it would be a first for the car if I could win the class. This particular car is really surprising us race after race, as it is basically just a bunch of slapped together parts that is actually working quite well together. As we pulled away my brain was just telling my arms and legs to do exactly what they did in round 3, but my thoughts was causing the chaos, constantly reminding me that I need to perform if I want to win the class as there was another round after this one. We had the car on its limits throughout the route, but only managed to post a time of 1:12.75, not as great as the previous one, this kept us in 1st place and .7 seconds in front of second place.
We were ecstatic with the day, but we still had one round to complete as

generic viagra online the Clark of the Course was evaluating the possibility of a 4th round if the sunlight would prevail. It was a long nerve wrecking wait, with the only thing to do was to listen to the other class F competitors posting some pretty decent times. Just before the end of the 3rd round the call came out that there will be no 4th round do the sunlight fading very fast. Mike and I won the class and the best thing I could think off at the time was to crack open a Non Alchaholic beer (still had to drive home) to celebrate as we started prepping the vehicles for the open road home.

Selina Botes and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 8th in Class D and 42nd Overall

40D Selina Botes - Herman Mathee (1)_0.jpgRace after race Selina is getting more and more to grips with the entire concept of gymkhana, this is her first year competing after attending races last year with me, where I competed, she indicated that she also wants to drive at the end of last year, well what were we to say, we strapped her to the seat of Mike’s Fox one evening at Killarney racetrack and she were threw into the deep end. As time went on she started to realise that there is way more to the sport than just driving, here you have about 2 hours on average to learn the route as there is most definitely no time looking at a map while flying thru the course. With 2 very difficult routes after the opening event it sure was not easy. Although Selina is competing in the big boys class seeing that I’m navigating and encouraging her, if we compare her times with the al ladies class, she would have ended

4th in the class, a brilliant achievement none the less, only time will tell how comfortable she will become behind the wheel. A big thanks goes out to my brother who spend countless hours installing power steering into his VW Fox, which is making the live behind the steering wheel much easier for Selina.

Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 2nd in Class D and 12th Overall

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Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 4th in Class F and 13th Overall

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Mike Mathee and Pietie Erasmus in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 4th in Class D and 23rd Overall

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Rudolf Marais and Mike Mathee in Class F Mazda 616 – 7th in Class F and 40th Overall

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Jan van der Vyver and Bjorn Venter in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 7th in Class D and 41st Overall

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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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