The Rally season opener for the 2018 SA Rally Championship will be the Trade Brands Tour Natal Rally being held this year on the North Coast of KZN. The Tour Natal Rally which started back in 1959 ran in various parts of KZN over the years focussing mainly on the fast and sweeping sugar cane fields along the coastline. The event traditionally started in Durban and competitors moved to the South Coast for the Friday stages, after which the crews then made their way back to Durban and restarted on Saturday and contested the beautiful stages on the North Coast.
“NMCC have run a fair number of the rally sprints on the North Coast and with the amazing development that has taken place in Ballito and on the North Coast, we decided to look at the possibility of running the event from Ballito,” said Rikus Fourie, National Rally Chairman. “We are very fortunate to have people like Jimmy Dewar and Peter Chadwick on board whom have been organising events in this area for many, many years and built up good relationships with the farmers over the years. Finding the best possible rally stages for the competitors is what they do best” he added. “We are also very proud to have Trade Brands involved to be the event Sponsor for this prestigious event and on behalf of NRC would like to extend our gratitude out to this fantastic team”.
The aim of the National Rally Committee under the umbrella of Motorsport South Africa, is to bring rallying to the people, and that is exactly what we have managed to do. With the Ballito Lifestyle Centre hosting the start of the event as well as the Service Park area for the weekend, spectators can get up close to the rally cars, meet the drivers and navigators and experience first hand how quickly tyres are changed, or perhaps a gearbox replaced by the technicians. There will be a poster signing on Friday 9th March at 13h30 for the public so make sure you do not miss this opportunity.
The Ballito Lifestyle Centre Rooftop will be the area where all the activity will be, with service crews from around the country setting up from early Friday morning 9 March. The ceremonial start will be at 15h00 as the first car will be flagged off to take on the challenge of winning the event over a total of 150km of special stages over two days. The cars will make their way to some spectacular stages close to Ballito, and return after each stage to Ballito Lifestyle Centre. A special night stage will be run in Old Ballito at 19h00 on Friday night. The rally cars will return to the Service Park after the first day’s rallying in preparation for the longer Day 2 of the event. The cars will then be placed into an Overnight Stop at Ashton International College.
Saturday will see an early restart from Ballito and competitors will move onto some picturesque stages near Kwa-Dukuza (Stanger) and Blythedale. The event is expected to finish at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre at 16h30 on Saturday afternoon outside Mythos. There will be some activities arranged to keep supporters entertained before the podium champagne spray which should start 17h15.
See you there on the start line!