As you know, I am not attending the Bela Bela rally and this was the first chance in more than 9 years that I had to sit waiting for news on the action to get to me.
I suppose it you have family or friends competing you will be able to find out more than just the times through stages.
As I wrote this I rushed to have a look at the “official website” thinking what fool I am – of course they will have news on their own special website and simply did not send news through to us. As I got to know Leeke – he would rather reinvent the wheel than run the risk of anyone else making a cent or goodness forbid share anything. Rallystar made an offer to host all they wanted to publish but as with everything else there was simply no reply. Our very efficient SMS service that kept people informed also had to fold as the NRC introduced their own sponsored service into place. Again – all funds in one direction….
So I will tell you the story about the rally making it up as I go along.
Leeroy Poulter is doing exactly what the doctor ordered him to do. He is keeping Weijs behind him and at the same time giving the Ford a bit of a hiding as well.
Poulter won three from four stages and missed a hundred percent score by 0.3 of one second when Mark Cronje blasted all away in stage 2.
I am not sure if Mark has a problem but he posted uncustomary 3rd, 1st, 2nd and then 4th in stage 4 to trail by about 15.2s after day one’s stages.
All is most definitely not over – and Cronje loves hunting down whatever karma, Murphy or whoever place ahead of him. The bloody Ford is worse that Jaws when anything ahead of it gives it all to reach the beach first.
But – and this is a thin ice area – Leeroy Poulter in my book, is without doubt the fastest driver in South Africa at the moment, yes I know it is debatable – but I will rather take that point to defend. All going well he will not be caught easily by any form of any shark before he hits shore so hard and fast that the lifeguards will run away. Cronje however is a special shark and if he proves me wrong, I will not mind at all.
Hans Weijs – had a bad stage 3 – but did very well through the rest. That of course was to prove what I wrote this morning slightly wrong, and the two run recce might just count in their favour. The rally however will only be over tomorrow at about three in the afternoon.
Two of the three stages tomorrow will favour anything that has a better top speed and notes will not play such a big role. Cuts on corners will be an advantage and I believe the roads will be a bit wider tomorrow afternoon.
Century 21 – the reverse of Stage 1 of day One will be the tester, especially on the second run through it. By that time it will have been used four times and the wear will truly show.
The disappointment today was without doubt Hergen Fekken who needed to be ahead of both Poulter and Weijs in order to move up the championship to give Toyota that much desired 1-2 in the championship.
Again – it is not over until the fat old what’shername sings.
If there was a problem with Fekken’s car,the engineers may be able to resolve the matter and he may just post some fancy times tomorrow.
Mark Cronje will without doubt also place some serious pressure on Weijs and a small slip may then just work in Fekkens favour.
The problem will however be if Cronje is ahead of him at the end of the event – then Poulter falling back to land between Fekken and Weijs will still not move the latter back out of second place in the championship.
I heard a rumour that Botterill in S1600 fell out because of damage to the fuel tank – but I’d rather not light a match to take a look.
His participation was sort of irrelevant –except if teammate Matthew Vacy-Lyle needed him to push anyone back to protect his second position in the championship.
Chris Coertse surprised me by leading the S1600 pack at end day one, but my favourite Chad van Beurden is 12 odd seconds behind after losing more than a minute in stage 3 to Coertse who posted fourth fastest time overall according to the provisional score sheet. I wonder…
Van Beurden will without hunt Coertse down tomorrow all being equal and will win the S1600 class. That will change the standing of the championship but let’s handle that when the time comes.
Paulus Franken has done very well so far and he should be able to hold his own for the rest of the event.
Ashley Haigh-Smith (6th) posted bad times in SS1 and again in SS3. Problem is that he is trailing by almost a minute and will have his work cut out to catch the leaders.
Ernie van der Walt is again doing well and is lying in fourth of S1600 with Vacy-Lyle in fifth.
We should see some interesting tactics tomorrow and it will be very interesting to see who does what to whom.
I am pleasantly surprised that so far only two cars did not make it to the end of Day 1 – I had a feeling that only about 15/16 would still be running.
Stage 5 will start tomorrow at 9h52 when Leeroy will open the road for the rest to follow.