Some of those fortunate or unfortunate enough to have passed the 50 year mark will remember that we have sung about the wonderful country we live in, the one we (albeit an almost whites only thing) were willing to die for.
Please note: The last remark was a tongue in the cheek remark – before the DA bans me from their party I do not belong to – as I have no doubt that many, many other South Africans would also have done the same – in the past.
The national game now is to take as much money, time or knowledge as you can (sometimes all mentioned combined) and leave for another country that will then benefit from your South African gained knowledge or qualifications.
Milk and honey time is over – the Rand is useless and the money in general now only paper.
We are worth a hop, skip and a snotklap against the Dollar and I will not even compare against the Euro or Pound.
Many of you would also, like one or two of us, have noticed that the motorsport scene in general in South Africa and the rally scene in particular – took a bit of a dive over the past few years.
The fields are smaller, the costs bigger and the politics in the sport HUGE!
Watch this situation deteriorate next year.
In rallying a new snake egg is hatching. This is hearsay at the moment and believe me when I say that I do not feel like confirming the facts as I cannot stand any more shocks or listen to lame excuses this year.
The rumour has it that some privateers who bought local S2000 cars, have now apparently found a market overseas – while the “Africa” rally community seems to want to follow the SA trend to try and keep the costs of the sport up as some of them are also looking for good S2000 cars.
“So what?” says you! “It’s a free market, we are entitled to buy what we want, make money or at least get as much as possible back when we sell!”
And I say – yes indeed you are! Like my grandma always said when we did not accept her answer or warning at first and asked to do something for the tenth time. “Ag, do what you like my child, it does not really matter to me!” then of course we did not do it!
This time I don’t think anyone will be worried about grandma, so let’s look at the consequences for rallying in future.
My take on the current situation is as follows:
We have about 10 proper S2000 cars running in local national championship rallies at the moment and there are about 5 cars that qualifies for the NRC4 class – although we seem to be happy to see two or more of the latter competing at one time.
Rumour also has it that the Dippenaar’s from Namibia bought Jan Habig’s Ford Fiesta which the will apparently run next year. An extra car on the scene? I don’t think so!
Mark Cronje will most probably still be in the Ford Fiesta although there has been rumours that the current car will be up for sale as it belongs to a private sponsor. I heard this before but so far Mark has been luckier than most privateers and he will probably again pull a rabbit from the blue hat! Winning the Championship may also play a role and Ford might just see the light and defend the title next year.
Japie van Niekerk’s career is said to end early next year but let us presume that is not so as this type of rumour has also been spread a few times before.
So at a push we have 3 Fords for next season.
Toyota, if they are still in rallying next year – will again enter two cars next year and I believe they may have one car on offer at the end of this year, albeit a well rolled but repaired Yaris currently driven by Giniel de Villiers.
The other 2015 car crashed by Leeroy Poulter in the Cape was apparently “destroyed” although it still finished the rally if you look at the results. Strange thing this – it never saw the finish line but finished the rally?
I will not be too surprised if Leeroy comes out in Giniel’s car for the Polokwane bash later this month as the off-road program will now basically take all their energy – until mid-January 2016.
Volkswagen might put up a car or two for sale – I will be surprised if they run more than two cars, if they run anything.
As said Habig’s Ford was sold to Dippies Dippenaar and will be driven by Wilro – car going to stay in Gauteng at least, but if it is sold I promise you it will be sold off overseas when by the end of 2016 the Rand will need about 18 or more brothers in exchange for a Dollar.
So, what am I saying?
Simple fact is that there was, as was the case in general, no plan in place to try and grow the field in rallying constantly.
No car has been sold conditionally – just a simple clause added to the sale – “you have to sell the car back to the first owner or sell it to an approved buyer – which approval shall not unreasonably be withheld.” And if you do not do that you will pay back the discount of R150 000 you were given for running the car in the SA championship. This conditions could be placed on the second buyer as well.
This would have ensured that the cars stayed in South Africa for at least three of four seasons without being stored somewhere or sold to overseas or over-border clients.
I will be surprised if we see more than 8 cars running next year as anyone remaining in the so called NRC4 class must have something missing as far as a competitive gene goes. Who wants to compete against one or two other guys – not really getting any worthwhile recognition?
Say Theuns Joubert sells the NRC4 S2000 up in Africa or overseas – and he does not find an upgrade, and Piet Bakkes does the same – that would be it.
What we did not need in South Africa was trying to compete with the Wilson’s overseas! Someone should have sat down for a few minutes to think about the sport instead of their pockets and inflated egos.
Even when we introduced S2000 – despite the “price limit” intended in the beginning I knew that we were on our way into an upward price spiral while the sport would land in a downward enthusiasm dive.
The class that stood a chance of keeping the sport interesting and at least alive – the N4 Subaru and Mitsubishi production cars – was the first to go down the proverbial drain.
“Grand” arrived “Enthusiasm” left the room.
We were now all world champions! The young ones would flock overseas and drive all the top guys into South Africa to come and try beat us.
Sponsors would line up for the honour to be involved in the sport – new sponsors would drive out the established ones with better offers and in some cases attitudes!
The sport would grow to such an extent that it would be offered as a subject in our schools from grade 2.
A few financial Evel Knievel’s tried to stay with the tide, but soon the lack of real money became apparent.
Thousands became “K’s” and millions “Bars” to try and hide the impact. 200K sure as hell sounds a lot better than R200 000 – and two Bar much better and easier to handle than 2 million Rand.
Slowly, slowly kills the monkey.
Then of course stepped in the motorsport nightmare in a suit!
The only sure way he could be identified was by the rolling of his eyes and his car number plate which clearly stated that he was in charge of MSA – the controlling body of motorsport.
Credit cards were flashed, deals were made and the devil himself brought in his cronies.
Good people on white horses – who would investigate the problems (not many at the time) get as much information from the guys who knew the sport inside out, then set up the program to chase all the old hands away – before … wow I almost said before stepping on the sport!
Good people – real wonderful people.
From the outset the only vision in mind on the rally side was to get the so-called “Medics” under control (literarily) get the money for the scoring based on a blown up budget, rake in every other cent they could and then to do all they could to kill off the various organising clubs and with it the whole support base the sport enjoyed over many, many years.
Then to crown it all – they honestly – if you forgive the pun – believed that the sport would grow!
The backstabbers got the openings they were looking for!
Imported parts, cars and every possible way to grab any loose cent were targeted – conflict of interest became the fashion rather than the crime it is supposed to be. The rich and white sport now became almost exclusive to the rich – no matter what colour of skin of course.
The economics sorted that out anyway.
So my fellow enthusiast get ready to see one or two more rich kids enter in the S1600 but also prepare for a few who will give up this incredible money slurping journey.
I have never been anything else but for linking the regional series to the National Championship – that made sense and is to the advantage of the regional guys, but to pretend that that is one hell of an achievement to pump up the “entries” to 30 – that is like a fart in a grocery bag!
I have no doubt that if something drastic does not happen – like in the next few months – we have hatched a new snake egg!
The on the other hand it will not come as a surprise to me if more than one manufacturer calls it a day – at the end of this season, which will mean that certain people will probably then also throw in the towel that they should have thrown in when the time was there.
Prepare yourself to start rebuilding the sport we all love – but then that is only my humble opinion.