RALLYING – IT IS A “MIND GAME” – Rallystar – the Pro’s next step…


IT IS A “MIND GAME” (mostly)

So many people believe if you are a reasonably good driver and you can make a handbrake turn, then you are a racing – or goodness forbid a rally driver.

The ability to drive a car obviously forms the biggest part of it, but especially Rallying digs deep to find talent and puts experience, the mindset, memory, perspective, perception, concentration and both mental and physical fitness to the test.

The art of driving is made up of a combination of all these things in its finest possible form.


A good number of people know that I have been driving rally cars for longer than most people alive and that over the past 16 years I drove more kilometres on dirt roads, rally stages, than over the 35 years – before Rallystar.

I did the pace-notes for all national championship rallies for about ten years, trained many people ( mostly from outside South Africa as most South Africans do not need any training), I took many for spins in rally cars and developed ulcers while driving with people taking me for spins.

Hotseat spin happening!

So, chances are that I do have an idea what the art of driving on dirt roads is all about.

Over the years I changed my views about many things dramatically – and goodness knows I did try to build rallying in this country.

I failed many times in trying, something I have never been ashamed of and some of my age-old enemies will be sad to hear that I have also succeeded in doing one or two things right.

I can not claim any form of acknowledgement from the controlling body of the sport – I have never won the overall SA championship, as a certain “friend” of mine from Namibia once pointed out – while he was ignorant of the fact  that I carved a career over many years with a smaller budget than the cost of one of the cars he bought for his “team”.

I am not telling you this to make a point or upset his master’s voice on the other side of the border, but to open the door for what I want to tell you what Rallystar and I can offer.

I know how to stretch a Rand and drive whatever I have to drive as hard as it will go and during my career I had to learn to drive at the combined limit of both the car and my own.

I have rolled and still finished first in class, got the dust stripes of telephone wires over a Golf’s roof to prove how high Francois Jordaan and I flew taking out a wooden telephone pole a meter from its top, after a jump that did not look so bad (no notes then).

In short, I do not remember any easy rally – I do not remember many corners that we did not “have a moment” – class wins mostly came easy – except when I had to drive a sub-standard Subaru worth around R400k against cars that were imported and cost between one and two million Rand.           


Having now set the table for what I intend to offer – let me tell you about it.

The story or awareness started one day when I decided to look in a mirror objectively to see what the hell upsets younger women rather than pleases them when I dared to glance at them like in the past, with no other intention but to appreciate their beauty and youth.

Sadly I  became aware that life was running out, let alone passing by and then – my dear young and old friends, then the silly brain factor started kicking in trying to convince me that; “It’s too late”, “I am too old”, “I can not start this….”, “This is my last dog” or “last car”  and so on.

Sad, very sad, but at the same time I countered by saying to myself; “Botha, what the hell – with your luck, you will probably hit 125 riding a supercharged V8 wheelchair, or at the time sit between DHL parcels, in a pilotless drone – commuting between the hospital and home?”

I thought of a verse from a poem I wrote:

“The mind – games it plays,

images uncontrolled in so many ways

some thoughts forever last

while the world keeps on going past”

In my long and as some people like to say, “controversial career” in motorsport, I have learned many things, met many people, some wonderful people, no real kings and a good number of clowns.

I have been to many places, raced anything that pretended to move, but learned most of all that engine power, suspension, navigator, talent and fitness all played a role in rallying, but not the main part.

What stood out however was that the most important thing inside the cockpit of any rally vehicle is the “head-games” you allow your mind to play!

The mindset of almost every one of the people I had the honour to “help” in their careers, was almost always the biggest single problem.

Some of the best drivers simply do not realise that no matter your talent – if you do not understand the art of driving, and/or know that your mindset forms the most important part of that understanding, you may come out tops for a while, but it will be much harder than necessary and very difficult to stay there.

The reason for the latter statement is simple – if ever you get the chance to break a record or set a “fastest time” over a certain distance – it will not be long before even mediocre guys follow suit. The reason for this is simple – their mindset change and they suddenly know that the time you have achieved is possible and their mindset swings from impossible to possible.

If your mindset is not right and you are unable to control it well, you may still do well, often surprisingly well – but you will always lack that final 10 to 15% you need to be a real champion and to stay on top for a reasonable time. You will probably never really reach your peak.

If you can’t rely on yourself to be 110% on the button from the moment the light turns green until you pass the flying-finish-board, and have to rely on superior handling and or performance of the car, you may find it difficult to keep on winning and reach your own peak.  

“YES BUT …….”

Secondly, if you go through life saying “yes, but…..” to everything anyone tells you – forget about a rally or racing career and definitely forget that I, for one, will stick around to try and make you famous.

During my time doing pace notes, I gave a few navigators whom I knew would pass it on to the drivers, a tip or two based on what I saw about their performance, from standing next to the stages. In a number of cases this resulted in class and overall wins, and even championship titles.

I have given a hint or two to some drivers before events, even just before the start of stages, that turned them into stage winners. I was involved in adapting the method of reading the notes to especially one team and they won the championship.

I have also wasted my breath on a number of “yes, but….” people.  

The same happened when people tried to impress or even scare me rather than show me how they drive, when I am not in the car. If they drive like they usually do, it would have given me a chance to help them improve.

I will never forget the time I went in a car with a self-declared world champion (in his own mind) a day before a National Championship rally.

One would have thought that he would try to keep the car in rally-condition for the rally, but no, he was too fast for the first corner, too fast to go through effectively and I told him that.

He “yes butted”, after he hardly made the first corner and surprisingly he made next corner as well and then, he caused about R50k damage through the third corner, going off the road so far that I could not help to say “champion, my champion!” before I got out of the car in disgust.

Then there are some drivers I refuse to drive with – when someone tells me that he or she is not scared – or often in the case of youngsters who are boosted, financed and promoted by the father – he would say, “You see this young man? (to which I normally feel like saying, “no I don’t see, I am forking blind”.)  “He is not scared, he does not have a scared hair on his head”, as if that is a requirement to become a good rally driver.

I usually react by declining the offer to get hurt or die with the Fearless One. I normally say to the father; “You go out there and train him – I will keep the mercurochrome and bandages ready,”  or I cut the conversation short by recommending the name of especially one person who believes he trains people, while all he does is try to clone them to his image and style, regardless of their own style and perception of things like speed, severity of corners etc. and then at the end of the session, he would take the poor student out and show him how a real champion drives – destroying all the poor guy learned.

I may also suggest that the father continues with the training until the two of them sit next to each other, either in bankruptcy court or both play for the Makwassie Wheelchair hockey team.


It is a mind game, a game where you need to know what your car can and will do and where its limits lie. You have to know how much of what you feed it, will and can be executed, if it can and will handle the “commands” it receives through a combination from whatever you put into it.

By the way – I have met very few drivers who can actually drive a reasonably well-prepared car to its limits and stay on the road. The accidents usually happen the moment a driver fails to do the right thing at the right moment.

They believe that a car’s limits are where it loses grip and go off the road, while that specific limit is usually caused by the wrong “attack” on the corner spoiling a good car’s “chance” to do what it is supposed to do.

Marina Coxon – first training session – Architect Cape Town

The difficulty of changing wrong attitudes is that every person is different and in most cases the problem lies with the lack of concentration and/or ability to work out a perfect combination, applying skills, by doing everything in such a manner that you can get maximum performance out of every vehicle you drive!

I have driven in cars with a number of youngsters, mostly for one or two sessions only, for a lack of funds, while they had more talent than many other drivers, but in all but one case, I regret to say that they did not make it in the sport – again finances and lack of guidance.

Not due to anything else but the interference of parents, listening to navigators who believe they are better drivers than navigators, the input from unsuccessful drivers and then of course also due to a lack of sponsorship and the bias of some people who could have helped in some way or another, had they not suffered from tunnel vision.

In some of these cases, those closest to them destroyed their careers, by aiming too high too soon, and in other by influencing and advising the youngster incorrectly.

Some training action at Rallystar

There are two youngsters whom I could have turned into South African rally champions given just a little more chance – but at least they still achieved a lot from the base I laid.

In others here and there something stuck, but because I have always refused to skip certain phases of my training program, some of the “hasty” ones went to guys who trained them left-foot-braking before they could do proper right foot powering.

The result? So far – not much to write home about – but who knows – one day is one day!

I wanted to explain the head-game here, write and tell you all about it, but just in time, thinking about my bank balance, and of course my age, I did a writers-handbrake-turn and decided to invite you to come and try us out, test my ability to improve your driving, your achievements and results!

Over and above offering you many years of experience and the best development and testing track in South Africa I will be offering a combination of services based on the needs of the individual at fees that will vary depending on what you would like to do.


  • A basic assessment of your driving standard
  • The art and philosophy of driving
  • The ultimate concentration factor
  • The mind game – getting correct info from the subconscious mind.
  • Improving what you are already good at
  • Analysis of the driver’s navigation needs.
  • From basic courses to advanced rallying – improvements guaranteed in future events.
  • Handy tricks of the trade and some more technical stuff.

PRICES and progress – as per quotation and according to budget.


Please contact confidentially stating what you would be interested in and where you feel you need to improve. This will give me a good idea of where to start and what to look for and most of all if I can help you become faster and better.


We are currently involved in three sponsorship projects, one of which is obviously the National Championship Rally 28/29th June and the second is the FarmFlash series where we will be looking for the fastest farmer in a bakkie in SA. You will soon hear a lot about this exciting concept.

And then we plan to start a five to six member Ladies Rally Team……. all will depend on how fast I manage to train the rookies, but we will be in action soon. The three rookies (another one to be added soon) will probably participate two at a time during 2019 and do all the events in 2020.  The may also be a big surprise as far as one more experienced driver is concerned.

Leeane Liebenberg – rookie driver – qualified Game Ranger
Girlie is a fourth year LLB student at UP and rookie rally driver. She is from Swaziland.
Sonja Lezar – Rallystar PR – Marketing. Rookie Driver – Personal Trainer and a serious passion for what we do!

The more experienced potential members for the team will be announced soon. A surprise or two waiting for all, but we will need one or two more navigators –  yes we will allow men on the left side of the car!


Leila Lerm – Paramedic and part-time model – Navigator in the future All Woman Team.


If you register for any course or combined course you may be invited to attend our project think-tanks, to become part of the discussions and who knows, become part of the Rallystar marketing team which will help you in your quest for sponsorship.

Navigation courses will be held somewhere in January, February and March – presented by a Top Gun from Europe if we receive enough bookings and if not, we will do our local best.

We will only be closed from 24th December to the 2nd of January 2019

If we do not hear from you before then, may I use this opportunity to wish you all a fantastic Xmas and festive season and remember drunk drivers can’t drive – even if they believe they can!


Sonja Lezar – 082 858 2931 or

Leon Botha – 082 555 3119 or