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Wet to the Bone @ 1st Neelsie Stellenbosch Gymkhana

Bjorn and JanRuan was able to get his dates in order and secured himself a return ticket from Zambia to South Africa to come and enjoy his first race of the season. Just after arrival at the Neelsie Student Center in Stellenbosch, we set of with changing the street tires to some serious rubber in the form of slicks for the bakkie, Escort, Fox and a set of semi’s for the Golf. The usual small talk was made and just at the end of changing the tires around someone started mentioning that they are feeling some water, we obviously laughed this of, and figured it would be the 3mm of water predicted, o man was we in for a surprise. The 3mm predicted rainfall turned out to be 97mm of rain during the entire day of competing, something that we were not prepared for.

Jan van der Vyver’s view:
Jan van der Vyver and Herman Mathee in Class D Golf 1.4i

JanThe morning started of with changing tires in rain, which was not any fun.
On the first class D run, we under estimated the amount of heat two bodies can produced, this ended up with fogged over windows and us not really able to see the track.  The golf had us running al over the place in the wet weather.  After the second run a few other D class vehicles changed to normal road tyres, for some more grip, but we new that the time lost on the second run was due to braking error on the driver side.  So the decision was made to stick to the semis on front and back, now it was time to see if it works on the last run.  With an spectacular run we ended up 3rd for the day in class D.

Jan van der Vyver in Class H

The class H run was used to learn to understand the wet weather driving a bit better, at the end of the day on the third run, the golf ended up to be the 5th fastest car on the day, which was al beautiful end of the day.

Herman Mathee and Jan van der Vyver in Class F Datsun 1400
Herman and JanAfter my first feel for the track next to Jan as his navigator, I realized that

it is very very wet and slippery out there, I made a decision to swop over to normal road tires on the front and rear. Slicks in my mind was just not really a option, front end grip is very important to my style of driving and with already so much wheel spin to keep under control Semi’s at the back was just not a option for the amount of water on the track.  The first run ended UP in being a crowd pleasure, we pulled off. From the start line and we had to

gain momentum with a huge amount of wheel spin, exciting the first corner the rear of the bakkie slipped out, at this particular point i decided it is time to play and started working on my drifting abilities. The second run went down much beter as I tried driving without the back stepping out or wheel spinning, the times also reflected that this is the style needed for the conditions. After the 3rd round we managed to finish 3rd in the Class.

Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class F Escort MKII
Ruan and HermanAs Ruan is a big believer in you use racing tires for racing and street tires for street use, I kept to his initial decision to compete with slicks, a decision I thought is crazy as the water was standing in puddles on the track. We went out the first round and had the usual wheel spin and confidence levels was low in the wet, something new to us, this car is built for dry condition, even my shoes was wet after the 1st run. Personally I think the biggest challenge for Ruan was to get his head into the game, driving in this sport is only a pièce of it, learning the track is môre important. During the course of the day Ruan got his confidence back behind the steering wheel after a absence to the sport for almost 9months, our times came down and manage to keep the car in one piece and place the car in 2nd place.

Bjorn Venter and Jan van der Vyver in Class D Golf 1.4i
Finished the day 1st in Class D

Mike and PietmanMike Mathee and Pietie Erasmus in Class D VW Fox 1.3 – Finished the day in 10th place in Class D

Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.3 – Pietman and MikeFinished the day in 6th place in Class D

Ruan Reynders in Class G Escort MKII
Finished the day in 5th place in Class G

Kobus Wilson Snr and Herman Mathee in Class E BMW 535i
Finished the day in 5th place in Class E

More Pictures – 1st Neelsie Stellenbosch Gymkhana

Personal Best @ 24th Casino Mykonos Langebaan Gymkhana

Golf 3What a assume day it turned out to be for racing, the night before when me and Jan walked and learned the track the wind was hauling. The sky was clear and not a single cloud in the air that would spoil our day of fun and some serious racing.

At the end of the day, this event turned out to be one of my best to date. Everything just went good, excellent navigating from Jan, 50% of my achievement on the day could be contributed to his excellent navigating skills, the other 40% went to the excellent setup on the suspension that kept me and “Einstein”  awake way past our bed time the weeks before the event. The other 10% went to our support group of friends, I was just there to hang on for dear live as the bakkie was picking up inside wheels

left right and center threw the fast passed corners of Mykonos.

Just to give you an idea, the rear suspension on the bakkie was stripped and re assembled 3 times in a weeks time before this event, after each practice session it was stripped and tuned. On the Golf a lot also changed before the event. A set of coil overs for the front and rear was imported. I also made a front lower strut brace to stiffen things up a little more. The coil overs was fitted and I can promise you, this is what VW needed to do to all Golf’s, these coil overs transformed this car from cheap transport to something you can actually give to your children to get to school and back. On the downside, it is just a little bit on the hard

side for every day driving, but a absolute pleasure to drive from a handling aspect. I truly believe Jan is as excited as I am about the future of this vehicle.

Luckily for us, the previous night all our friends started to chip in and we made short work of prepping the vehicles for the following days racing, tires, camber etc was done in record time and a lot of laughter provided by Mr. Colbrin. This gave as the opportunity to use all of our time before the action started to concentrate on getting the track correct.

24th Casino Mykonos Gymkhana - B140The day turned out to be very tough on me physically, having to drive my own vehicle, navigate for Jan and Kobus Wilson with the very rapid Nissan 1400 bakkie asked me to navigate for him in the bakkie and his sisters Golf. But it was worth it, never have I enjoyed a day of racing more than this.

The times looked good for the bakkie and on the Golf, with each round and the confidence growing, the times came down, which is good on Mykonos as this is the one event that could catch you out faster than you think with all the side walks and fences. We struggled a lot with the Golf’s setup, especially in the rear department, with the beast breaking away on hard cornering, Isak van Zyl from Dynotech was kind enough to lend Jan a set of semi slicks to use on the rear, which made a huge difference. This meant Jan had to jump on his piggy bank to get some money for a set before the next event. Jan was able to place to place the Golf just out of a top 10 position. The second outing for Jan and the Golf, a very good result, keep up the good work.

The first event were the bakkie did not suffer from excessive wheel spin, due partly to the layout of the track, the full  slicks in front, semi’s at the back , the suspension and experience starting to kick in, why only now, but yes, it takes some time to learn this sort of thing under the conditions. When the final round arrived we already knew we have the 3rd place in Class F sealed, we approached the starting line, not knowing if we are going to attack or just drive to finish, with all the nerves settled we pulled away, what a lap, it was hard, smooth and very fast, until we came out of a sweeping left hand corner and just heard a sound like spanners falling around in the back of the bakkie. We took the caution decision to retire the from the round. It ended being a wheel spacer that snapped. The bakkie performed very well against vehicles with 1600 motors, limited slip diffs, etc. Our best time was only 0.30sec slower than these vehicles.

Thanks to everyone that provided a hand, some advice, a cold-drink when we needed it the most.

A special thanks need to go out to my Father that attended the event, without you, I would not be the owner of this bakkie and to “Einstein” for all the hard work when the garage doors close and Autocad is fired up.

We look forward to the return of Ruan and the very quick Ford Escort for the next event at Flamingos Langebaan, Saturday 28 November.

3rd and 5th at the 5th Glomix Bricks and Blocks Langebaan Gymkhana

The 5th Glomix Bricks and Blocks Langebaan Gymkhana started of on the wrong foot.
It all started while we were packing and getting ready on Friday afternoon just before we left for Langebaan. We fired up the Escort to for a fill up with fuel for the

journey, she is particularly thirsty at about 7km/1lt, all of a sudden we noticed that the motor is not performing as should be. After a while of searching for the possible culprit we ended up pulling the wiring harness and noticed that this fixed the problem, so we had a loose wire somewhere between the ECU and the supporting wires. Unfortunately we did not have time to fix the loose wire as night fall was approaching and we still had to get to Langebaan and setup tent.

63_1We set of on our little trip, Ruan in front and me at the back, this was the first time that the bakkie's new motor was going to be driven further than 10km non stop, my eyes where fixed to the heat gauge and oil light. Just as we got out of the city Ruan phoned and told me to move to the front as his wipers is not working. After the laughter passed, I moved to the front to clear the road for Ruan to follow (Some reasons why a dedicated street legal racing car should be towed and not driven).

After arrival at Lientjiesklip, we where greeted with a coldish wind and a bunch of rain clouds, we quickly started setting up our camping site before it started to rain. We quickly gathered that the more you setup camp the faster and easier it gets. The two of us got in the bakkie and drove down to Flamingos where we did our race entry and was provided with the route layout for the next days racing.

After the battle with the previous nights rain, we made a early start to the day and moved down to Flamingos where the days racing would take place. It quickly became apparent that the new camber/caster plates fitted to the escort does help a lot with camber and caster, but is not that good for shocks, after some further investigation it was apparent that the shocks are bottoming out. We raised the front suspension to overcome this for the day. At a later stage we fixed this by getting a new pair of gas charged shocks machined down the top to allow us more or less 50mm more travel, just what we needed if the suspension is set for lower 13″


The bakkie proved to be a new beast to master with the modifications done to the motor, it even excited me so much that on my first run I forgot the track and my hands was so busy keeping the rear in place that I even forgot to listen to my navigator, stupid me, but it just goes to show, you need to know your vehicle. On the other hand, Ruan piloted

the Escort very good and was actually listening to me in the navigator seat as he made no mistakes. It went very well, until the last run, we made some huge mistakes and decided to burn some rubber.

After the days racing we ended 3rd with the Escort and 5th with the bakkie in class F.

To add to all that had us uncomfortable for the weekend, we had to inform the organizers of the Gymkhana's that this was the last event in which Ruan and the Escort will be competing for the next 20 months. This is due to work commitments, Ruan will be stationary in Zambia for the period of 20 months. It is just not feasible to travel from Zambia to RSA every month, so he made a decision to return to the sport when he is back.

I would just like to take the time congratulate him for the excellent results he achieved with the Escort and being a good friend, navigator and good racing partner. We are waiting on your return.


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Bakkie The suspension modifications made on the bakkie, really started kicking in and the results were immediately visible by the times and the stance of the bakkie in sharp hard corners. Understeer, front-end grip and roll was a lot better. On every real wheel drive vehicle in the sport, I will recommend dual anti roll bars in the front – Thanks Pieter Ludick. After two runs in the escort, it was identified that the escort is in serious need of anti tramp bars in the rear,

also something I will keep in mind for the bakkie. Rear tramp became a problem after the cement surface started drying. The strange thing about cement is, rubber doesn’t stick to it, it rather forms a rubber dust than leaving marks.

In overall it was

the best day for the Bakkie so far, 5th in Class F, we knocked 1sec of the times from our competitors, just by fiddling with a few suspension settings.

The Escort won the class on the last run of the day, after a few changes to the driving style and lines. Huge horsepower isn’t all that is needed in this sport. The perfect line, amount of braking before and in mid corner, amount of throttle exciting a corner and suspension is what is important.

Thanks to everyone that helped with the vehicles for the event and on the day, we appreciate it.