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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

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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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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Class D dominance @ 5th Fairbridge Mall Brackenfell Gymkhana

5th Fairbridge Mall RouteWeather indicated that this event could turn into a wet one, the possibility presented itself that it could be the same as last year’s event at Neelsie Stellenbosch gymkhana, an event that I really enjoyed since it was something completely new and a different challenge to drive on a drenched track. Friday night we as a team went down to the venue and helped to get all the fences

in place to ease the duties of the organiser for Saturday, this also allowed us the opportunity to have a look at the track and get our heads around it, which really helped at the end of the day. Back at home we packed every last bit of wet weather clothing we could as we were convinced it is going to be a wet one.

Saturday morning we got up and to our disappointment it was looking as if a wet track was out of the question, oh well, can’t get everything in life that you want. We moved down to the Fairbridge Mall and went thru the norm of setting up the Gazebo and prepping the vehicles for some fun before we started the usual walking and learning of the track, again I must add using a bicycle for this purpose is a real benefit.

Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 5th in Class F and 24th Overall

23F Herman Mathee - Mike Mathee_0.jpgThis was a particular busy day as I had to navigate for 4 other vehicles, two of which is for Kobus Wilson Snr that sure as hell know how to drift a car in very confined spaces, I’ll even put money down that he will put many RSA drifters to shame when the space available is limited. On this particular day Mike and I decided to lend “Lil Datto” to Kobus Wilson Jnr as his bakkie wasn’t available for the particular event, we did this as good sportsman and provide him the opportunity to

gather points for his championship campaign. To date the organizers have decided not to allow him to keep the points that he earn on the day for 2nd place in class f, which left a particular nasty taste in our mouths. Gymkhana being an entry level category into motorsport where participants help each other and try to grow the sport, but the above actions is not the way in which good deeds should be awarded.

Throughout the day I struggled to get the times needed that the other participants was posting for the class, round 1 and 2 was off by about 2-3sec per round from the fastest times for the day, the front suspension felt spongy and i was just unable to drive around this. Kobus was actually able to post times 2sec faster with the Datsun. The last round of the day I was determined to post a time good enough to slot into 3rd place for the day in the class, on the start line my foot slipped on the clutch, for this error under pressure I was awarded with a 10sec penalty which ended my day, at least it provided Mike with the opportunity to really test the handbrake of the Datsun. At the end of the day I’m really disappointed with my results, but luckily I can look back on the day and learn from the mistakes.

Jan van der Vyver’s view:
Jan van der Vyver and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Golf 1.4i – 2nd in Class D and 12th Overall

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Mike Mathee and Pietie Erasmus in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 1st in Class D and 11th Overall

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Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 3rd in Class D and 15th Overall

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

649E4188_1.JPGThe route layout was what we called easy compared to the Vredenburg routes which was a pretty difficult and a nightmare for new competitors. Throughout the day Selina was nervous but full of confidence regarding the route and this started to show with her times. During the day she started to drive harder and harder which will turn into real competitive times as time goes on.

 

 

 

 

Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class F Mazda 1000 – 7th in Class F

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Rudolf Marais and Mike Mathee in Class F Mazda 616 – 8th in Class F

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Confusion @ 2nd Weskus Mall Gymkhana

 

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The week leading up to the event was spent under “Lil Datto” front suspension, having taken it completely apart, to widen the track more. Some interesting male/female extension pieces was machined to allow for further adjustment of the track. The original pieces was on their limits and didn’t allow for more adjustment, the steering arms, was adjusted to use only 10mm of thread, which isn’t considered to be very safe. But from time to time these extreme measure are needed to test a theory in the practical world in order to make the decision if it is worthwhile to spend money on the modification, luckily for me this proved to be a huge success and I went ahead. The end result was a front end which is +- 85mm wider per side.

Another early morning start at 04:00am, packed the cool bags, attached the race vehicles and off we were at 05:15. On arrival at Weskus Mall at 07:00 we immediately started with swapping tyres, adjusting the suspensions and getting everything in place ready for the action to start. Went thru documentation and scrutineering; then the mega task of learning the route started, the itself not that difficult, but the venue with all the little bushes making it very confusing. Once we started with the learning of the route we had absolutely no rest what so ever. Being the most intimidating venue that we have come across in Gymkhana to date, the rest of the season can only be easier. This venue is so bad, I bought myself a video camera, maybe some previewing of the venue would help in the future.

Mike Mathee and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 1st in Class D and 13th Overall

10D Mike and Herman Mathee - VW Fox (1)_0.jpgAt 10:30 the action started with the first car on the line. Having to

navigate for 6 different entries on the day, the first outing is always the most important, my nerves was shattered and in the back of my mind I was struggling to keep the doubt under control as I was very uncomfortable with the route. Mike was the poor soul that was first on my list, placing the VW Fox on the line, we set off and all of a sudden the doubt cleared and we navigated thru the route with no navigation errors. On his first run he had to select reverse as his incoming line to a hairpin corners was completely off, something that I think was a first for me. Selina found it very difficult to remember the route thru the 30+ identical looking bushes, hopefully being the last time we compete at the venue this year, we can only looking forward to the other venues with their own challenges. The day continued with a straight battle between Mike and Jan for Class D honours, at the end of the day, the battle was decided with a very quick time from Mike on his last run which secured the title for the day. Hopefully on the next event Mike’s regular navigator will be back and for filling his duties next to my brother, as I really do feel additional concern in navigating for my brother and Jan in the same class when they are this competitive.

Jan van der Vyver’s view:
Jan van der Vyver and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Golf 1.4i – 2nd in Class D and 14th Overall

33D Jan van der Vyver and Herman Mathee - VW Golf (1)_0.jpg33D Jan van der Vyver and Herman Mathee - VW Golf_0.jpg46D Jan and Melissa van der Vyver - VW Citi Golf_0.jpgText to follow

Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 2nd in Class F and 12th Overall

23F Herman and Mike Mathee - Datsun GX Sedan (2)_0.jpg23F Herman and Mike Mathee - Datsun GX Sedan (3)_0.jpg23F Herman and Mike Mathee - Datsun GX Sedan (4)_0.jpgIMG_6955_0.JPG

Starting the first round in “Lil Datto” at 5000rpm was a complete nightmare, as the vehicle launched hard and then all of a sudden the revs fell and I had to sit there and wait for it to pick up again; SU’s your days are numbered, going thru the first few corners I could feel something isn’t 100% correct, but once we got to the very technical side of things these concerns was highlighted, the front end felt slow to accept input. We continued thru the route and was the only vehicle in class F to have a clean run thru the route after the first round. Still trying to figure out what was causing the lack of response and front end grip we launched again for the 2nd round, with the revs higher and a little longer on the clutch it was much better. Having decided that we should drive much tighter lines and not overdrive the vehicle we swept thru the corners to stop at the finish line a full 3sec faster than before. Very pleased with this time, we came to the conclusion that the car really does not like to be overdriven and forget about the front end. The 3rd round I was very confident and determined to finish the day with a sub 1min 21sec time, this over confidence soon became apparent as I skipped a part of the course and had to turn around to correct it. Not very pleased with this I set off to have a little fun and practising my handbrake cornering, going thru a ditch and losing 1 bar of air pressure in the one rear wheel was a result of this. After the event when torqueing the wheel nuts on the street wheels, we realised that the front wheels had allot of play on, after inspection it became apparent that the front track rod bushes wasn’t tightened enough, causing the spongy feeling and lack of response.

Never the less, a very fun filled and enjoyable outing and one that will be with me for a very long time seeing that a made a big driving error and need to concentrate on it to rectify it, Lesson of the day: Listen to your navigator, it is there role next to you to keep you on route.

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

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Complete Podium @ 1st Weskus Mall Gymkhana

1st Weskus Mall Route.jpgDuring the weeks that passed since the last event all focus was on the preparation of the vehicles with many long nights clocking the hours in, in the garage. Mike decided that this would be the ideal time to fit the 2nd hand 1.4i VW Golf motor to the Fox, this was one of his best ideas to date, but also one of the worst, as this machine had a mind of its own.
To sum it up, after the fires was put out and everything working off it went to DynoTech for some seriously needed mapping on the Gotech side. The map that Jan and Mike developed on the road was quite good and very driveable, until the first power run on the dyno, it was very apparent that the motor had a lot more to offer, they start the process and Izak van Zyl quickly whipped it into shape. Before Izak got his hands on the car it had a sound of a sluggish rotor motor, which I particularly enjoyed, but Izak thought it good to get the motor to its full potential rather than letting it sounds as sweet as it did.

IMG_6699_0.jpgOn Thursday evening Mike and Bjorn took the car to our test area to put it thru its passes in order to give the go ahead for competition, and all of a sudden I was called upon to bring the recovery vehicle as there were a strange rattling sound coming from the motor, first thoughts turned to main or big end bearings, but the sound was not familiar. Once back home we hook all the gauges up and started it again, after some time the sounds was diagnosed to be coming from between the gearbox and motor. Jan being Jan and only needed about 4 hours sleep a night, he persuaded Mike to get the spanners and start stripping to get the box from the motor.
Many hours later, too much coffee further and the gearbox was back in its place, and the culprit in the bin and replaced with a new one. The culprit turning out to be a 8mm bolt about 9mm long holding the dust cover behind the pressure plate and motor that came loose. The poor replacement being fastened with enough super strong Loctite to never come loose again. Friday evening the last of the loose parts, fittings and hoses was replaced and the car started up with no strange sounds, all this drama for one bolt.

46H Jan van der Vyver - VW Golf Citi 1400_0.jpgIt was quite busy on the “Lil Datto” front, after some very hard thinking and analysing sessions, I decided to stretch the track on the front suspension to start matching the rear E30 parts, seeing as this could be the mayor factor in contributing to the bad front end grip. After a visit to “Datto” I decided in raiding the bigger brother of some custom made front suspension bits like, adjustable lower control arms and track rods. Armoured with the correct parts, poor “Lil” was stripped and the conversion started to get the new parts in. Unfortunately I could only stretch the track by 35mm per side as the steering arms between the inner and outer tie rods was too short to allow more. Deciding that this will be the best for the time allowed I went ahead with the transformation using my race cars parts. After making new stills and mounting points for the anti-roll bars “Lil” was put back on its wheels, poor thing had a tear of happiness in its eyes as it starter to look less like a Frankenstein car and more like a car which rear wheels will follow in the same track as the fronts. Not yet 100% in line with the rears, but as close as time would allow, fenders was cut to allow the wheels to turn as a result of the strut being moved out and to the front.

Saturday morning 04:00am, way too early for comfort, still feeling very unrested from the previous late nights, we packed the cool bags, washed our faces more than once to wake up. We preheated the tractors and got the 6 vehicle convoy going, all 3 of the tow vehicles being diesels. We arrived at Vredenburg just after 07:00 and started with the pre event preparations, I had some space available in the bakkie and decided the morning to load a mountain bike for some transport around the venue, this turned out to be one of my better ideas as I will never again attend an event without it. The track route that we were presented with at documentation, really messed with my head, after a few rounds on foot I decided it is time to tackle the route with the bicycle, man oh man, what a difference did it make.

At about 10 o’clock the event started off and more or less at the same time we realised that this was going to be one of that very special warm days down at the Weskus Mall Vredenburg just outside Saldanha.

Mike Mathee and Pietie Erasmus in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 1st in Class D and 10th Overall

IMG_6647_0.jpgMike was the first Race-Tech member to navigate his VW Fox thru the route, he posted a very surprising good run, something we did not anticipate. He also entered the Fox in a non-scoring run to gain experience with the new engine combination, Selina was asked to navigate for Mike to gain some experience and get a feeling of grip. After the first run, Selina must have been in shocked as she was unable to stand on her own and had to press down on the car to keep her balance. Personally I think she was shell shocked at the speed Mike went thru the course, it is quite something to sit in the navigators seat with an fast driver, especially if his times is 15-30 seconds faster than your own, it is at that exact point that you get that feeling that in the next minute you will hit something/die/roll/pee yourself etc. The expression on her face was priceless after the run, just being exposed to the speed and commitment it takes to post fast times in Gymkhana. On Selina’s own runs se made very good progress thru the day, slashing a massive 15 seconds off her 1st run, with her last outing on the route. With a little more shell shocking and practise the team will get her very competitive one day, being motorsport and not a second nature, time will only reveal the true mystery.

Throughout the day Class D was rattled and shaken as Jan, Pietie and Mike battled it out to get to grips with the cars, the day ending in making history for Race-Tech. Pietie drove the Fox to 3rd place, Jan forced his Golf into 2nd spot and Mike literally trying to destroy the Fox into 1st, out of all the previous difficulties with the conversion, This result ended in being the 1st time that Race-tech managed to occupy the complete podium in Class D. This accomplishment was the Highlight for me personally.

Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 2nd in Class F and 8th Overall

23F Herman and Mike Mathee - Datsun GX Sedan 1400 (2)_0.jpgAfter struggling with front end grip the 1st round of the Witzenberg Gymkhana championship at Flamingo’s, I was very positive in regards to the track changes made to the Datsun. I decided to

use the same front 13″ semi slicks as at Flamingo’s to truly see if the changes had any considerable effect on the grip, one option was to use wider more sticky rubber, but that idea was scrapped for the bigger picture as I’m using “Lil Datto” as my Ginny pig this year to learn the 1200’s handling characteristics and carry that info over to its bigger brother “Datto”. On my first run, entering the 2nd corner I immediately knew something was feeling familiar, but better, front end grip, a smile crept in and I was able to take corners as hard and fast as with the bakkie, a feeling that I really enjoyed in the past. Immediately I knew all the hard work was paying off. The 1st and 2nd round was rough on the car, my brother and myself, every corner was over braked, overdriven, sloppy lines, but boy was it fun to have a car with front end grip, a Limited Slip Differential, a Datsun motor that is very responsive and a overjoyed driver that was enjoying wagging the tail around. IMG_6543_0.jpgThe times was very good, but not good enough, I know this car has a lot more in it, it must just be found and that was exactly what I set as my next goal. This meant forget about the “lekker” and start concentrating on precise lines. Just before round 3 I told Mike that let’s try driving this round as tight as possible, and that is what he had to keep telling me. Somewhere deep very deep within me I just naturally found the ability to drive very precise lines, which resulted in a few scratch marks on “Lil” and a few leaves attacking Mike, this didn’t concern me once we heard the time, a full 2 seconds faster than our “lekker” runs. At the end of our 4 runs for the day, Mike and Myself managed to get the car to the finish 8th Overall and 2nd in Class F. My best Overall placing to date.

Jan van der Vyver’s view:
Jan van der Vyver and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Golf 1.4i – 2nd in Class D and 11th Overall

33D Jan van der Vyver and Herman Mathee - VW Golf Citi_0.jpgWhen we got to the Weskus Mall, it was very clear that is a course like no other. The surface was of very good nature, but there was a few bumps that was not the norm. We quickly got the cars prepared and then started to study the course. The study process was helped on my using a bicycle. It took me the better part of the first 3 runs to settle down, this could be contributed to the heat and confusing course. Luckily there was a 4 run added to the event, in which I had very good runs with very good times, but it was not enough to beat Mike, whom was very consistent and up to par on this event. It was great to take the full D class podium on the day as a Race-Tech team.

 

Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 3rd in Class D and 15th Overall

31D Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee - VW Fox 1400 (1)_0.jpg

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

I’m very proud of Selina, she is currently competing in the Mens class and managed to beat one of the seasoned competitors.
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Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class F Mazda 1000 – 4th in Class F

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Pietie almost came 3rd, I’m pretty sure he isn’t too happy that we had 4 runs on

this particular day, as he was 3rd in Class until the beginning of the 4th, Anton managed to complete his first error free run for the day, which costs Pietie his 1st, 3rd place. A feeling that I know all too well, having lost my 1st, 3rd place at Mountain Mill Gymkhana in 2009 with an error on braking at the finish.

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2011 Season Opener @ 9th Flamingos Langebaan Gymkhana

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This opening event for us as a team was very excited, due to a 2 new cars that was build and our outfits. The idea of the shirts started a last year, we wanted to stand out a little between the crowds and decided we need some branding as we are currently 9 members that drive and navigate under the www.race-tech.co.za name. This all started with only two friends that have managed to convince out friends to come and enjoy the sport. New members to the team is Selina Botes (driving Mike Mathee VW Fox) and Rudolf Marais, last year while we were standing in the sun waiting for our next run, Rudolf was busy slaving away on his restored Mazda 616. The car was completely stripped down, sprayed in a very nice blue, motor overhauled and assembled again, know the mammoth task start to get it in shape. Having a nice looking car only score points with the crowd, not with your peers racing against you. “Performance and handling does more for good track times than looks…”
During the off season, my brother, father and I sure as hell was not sitting around waiting for our older days to come closer. I decided that I needed to sell the Datsun bakkie, rust was taking over, this wasn’t a very hard decision to make, as I have been busy building a new race car for the last year. Mike bought himself a Datsun 1200 last year with big plans for, but since my car is still under manufacturing, I took over his big plans and decided that we will race with it until my car is done. The 1200 was stripped and the complete running gear was swapped with the bakkie and a few other bits like pedals, seats, front suspension and a completely new rear suspension was added to the 1200. This kept us busy for more or less 3 months. All this while I continued with building my new cars roll cage, but I have to admit, the race car was the one collecting dust half of the time.

We arrived at Langebaan the Friday evening, setup camp and went down to Flamingo’s to walk thru the route a few times, we had about an hour before it was dark, the route was new and would present a few challenges the next day, but at least we had a head start on learning the track. Once back at the camp site Pietie arrived with his Mazda F on the back of a trailer, we were so eager to help him offload it, that we forgot a few essentials, after utilizing a few jacks and ramps we got the trailer unstuck and could offload the F, “some say this was wasting time, we say this was an adventure”.

The next morning was pretty busy with getting our vehicles in order, going thru documentation and scrutinering. We had the normal first event issues like ground wires that came loose on engine rpm limiters, installing tyres in the wrong sequence etc. After a hour we were back in the groove and got every vehicle race prepped. We had another opportunity to walk thru the route before drivers briefing and the event started.

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 6th Overall

IMG_9300-1_0.jpgThe day started off at 5:00 after the U2 concert. But looking at the skies we were going

to have a great day. Running at number 33 gave the nerves sometime to calm down. My first round was an 1:08 and I heard something from the commentators side, about me and wondering what I had for breakfast (a Whole lot of nothing at that time). After the first runs was completed, I realized that everything started to come together on the golf, her lifters was even “clapping hands”. The second runs in the D and H class was great fun. The little sleep and not drinking enough water caught up with me in the third run with a cramp in my left arm, but still a good time.

I was over the moon with the results of 6th overall, 1st class D and 3rd in class H. This was the most successful outing for me yet, and we can only hope that the rest of the season stays on par. Thank you to my wife for supporting me, and to all the people who helped with the car (Herman, Mike, Stephan, Leon, Marius, Lee, Bjorn)

Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 3rd & 5th in Class F

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the hard work of the last 3 months was at a end to get “Lil Datto” to where it is today, know it was time to get it on the track and start getting the feeling how the car handled. We only packed one set of tyres for the car, 14″ Bridgestone semi’s for the rear and 13″ Dunlop semi’s for the front. As we drive in n number order, I was the first one to take “Lil Datto” thru the route, and boy was it nice and also just as frustrating. As this was my first time driving a RWD vehicle with a limited slip differential on a gymkhana route, it took some getting used to, I’m pretty sure it will take a few events to get used to this. Our biggest concern was the exit speed out of corners and starts due to a long duration cam, but at the end of the day this proved to be a very nicely balanced setup, the concerns was with the front suspension, front end grip disappeared somewhere down the road, either during swopping the parts from the old bakkie to the car or while fitting the new rear suspension.

56F Mike and Herman Mathee - Race-Tech Datsun 1200GX - 1400_0.jpgGetting the car thru slow speed corners was a complete frustration and allot of swear words were exchanged between driver and suspension, it was under steering allot, yes it has a LSD fitted in the rear that aids with under steer, but this isn’t just under steer, definitely a few other parameters also at work. Even thru the higher speed corners the front felt loose, this normally the being driven at full speed and total confidence. As the day went on, we stole the Fox 13″ slicks and Mike tried them out on his second run, this was even worse, at least this helped with the decision to scrap them as they were done. Afterwards Jan borrowed us a set of old 14″ semi’s for the front. This made a huge difference but was not the answer, we had to sit down and figure a way out to get front suspension working.

At the end of the day Mike was able to bring the car home a Class position of 5th and I 3rd. Never in my life have I seen my brother exit a route and smiling more than with this little car. Thanks Mike for providing me with the opportunity to use your car until “Datto” is done. We are very pleased with the car, for its first real event it did very good, personally I think the car has allot more to offer, you just get that feeling when moving thru the route, if time is on my side, I will rethink the front suspension and make the necessary changes.

Mike Mathee and Pietie Erasmus in Class D VW Fox 1.3 – 4th in Class DIMG_9226_0.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

37D Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee - Race-Tech VW Fox 1300_0.jpgPietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.3 – 5th in Class D

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_9052-1_0.jpgSelina Botes and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.3 – 7th in Class D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8972_0.jpgPietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class F Mazda 1000 – 6th in Class F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_9265_0.jpgRudolf Marais and Mike Mathee in Class F Mazda 616 – 8th in Class F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Pictures – 9th Flamingos Langebaan Gymkhana

Hot as Hell @ 4th Lions Vredendal Gymkhana

 Final RoutePreparation started very early for this event as it is so far from our home town, needless to say, everything did not go as planned. We realized with a shock that you are not able to tow a FWD car with a limited slip differential on a A-Frame. This did not go

down well in Jan’s eyes as hê now had to drive his very stiff suspension car up to Vredendal, a 350km/h odd drive with a very bad pièce of road between Citrusdal and Calvinia. Mike, Selina and I met each other at Piketberg, attached the A frame and we set off, at times I thought Pietman was driving a fire breathing monster, the way his diesel sniffing Renault was able to overtake trucks while towing a VW Fox. Once at Vredendal we setup camp and had a hour or two left to chat with the other competitors. UP early the next morning to get ready for the action, damn this place is properly satiated just above hell, not even at 9 o’clock and the sweat was already rolling down my forehead.

Herman Mathee and Jan van der Vyver in Class F Datsun 1400 – 2nd in Class F

23F Herman Mathee and Jan van der Vyver Nissan 1400 LDV 2nd_0.jpgThe 1st run went down with a good time to start the day of and no mistakes, but the dreaded white paint on the airstrip proved that they will be my biggest hurdle for the day, once I touched them my bakkie just went straight, if I’m over them the front end grip returns and I can continue in the direction that I was meant to.  Just before my 2nd run, i heard the time of my closest competitor, something I do not want to hear in the future again, the time hê posted was 6sec faster than my own, I decided that it is time to step UP and drive the bakkie to its limits, well, not everything is so easy when you have corners and cones, I totally lost the plot, made a few driving errors and incurred a penalty or two, not the way to drive fast times. The 3rd and final rounds was almost a carbon copy of themselves, on the last

round I managed to post a time only 3sec slower than my competition, most definitely the most competitive day so far this season, never before was I pushed so hard to post good times, by times I had Jan holding his breath thru the last set of corners, which I took at flat foot, the best part of the track for me. We managed to end the day with a 2nd place in the bag.

Jan van der Vyver’s view:
Jan van der Vyver and Herman Mathee in Class D Golf 1.4i – 2nd in Class D

41H Jan van der Vyver VW Golf Chico 1.4i 4th_0.jpgWe broke a sweat early in the morning with the sun on our backs as we changed tyres and setup tyres.  It was expected to be a gear changing course, but after the first run we knew that you only had to change to 2nd on the last bit.  The weaving thru the cones again learnt us that to go slow is sometimes faster.  Pushing the whole day, but we could not brake the 1 minute 4 second barrier.  There is defiantly some suspension word before the next event.  On the last run we also learnt that braking on the black marks from all the other cars will only cause you to go over the line.
Pietman and MikeMike Mathee and Pietie Erasmus in Class D VW Fox 1.3 – 4th in Class D

10D Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee VW Fox 1300 5th_0.jpgPietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.3 – 5th in Class D

More Pictures – 4th Lions Vredendal Gymkhana