During 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.
On 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.
It 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
Mike 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
After 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. The 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
When 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
Selina Botes and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 7th in Class D
Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class F Mazda 1000 – 4th in Class F
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.