Archive | 2012 South African National Rally Championship

25 June 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Disappointing results for BP Volkswagen team in Toyota Dealer Rally Gauteng

2012 Toyota Dealer Rally Gauteng: BP Volkswagen team

Once again it was a grueling two days of motorsport for the BP Volkswagen rally team, as the Polo S2000s tackled the Toyota Dealer Rally Gauteng on 23-24 June. Punctures affected almost every competitor, and both the cars of Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson and Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries were forced to pull over six kilometres into the first stage and change tyres. The soft nature of the stage environment also meant that the swaps themselves were made all the more difficult, and both pairings lost valuable time. Hans Weijs Jnr/Björn Degandt managed to avoid the flat tyre, but were held up by thick dust which followed in the wake of the slower competitors. It cost the duo dearly – two minutes were lost, time they only managed to claw back in stage three.

The pair were to suffer another bout of bad luck, though, when in stage nine, a puncture finally caught up with them, leaving them no choice but to enther the final stage with an insurmountable time deficit. It wasn’t all bad news, though, as they finished the event in a respectable fifth place. Kuun/Hodgson suffered two further punctures on the penultimate stage, leaving them with no tyres on which to complete the open section on the final stage, forcing a reluctant retirement. Fekken/Arries finished 14th overall, after deciding to compete in the Super Rally on the Saturday, rising from a 26th place starting position.

‘It has been a disappointing weekend after weeks of hard work by the entire BP Volkswagen rally team,’ said head of Volkswagen Motorsport, Mike Rowe. ‘Factors completely out of the team’s control, including roads that were unfit for rally cars, made the weekend what is was, but we used the opportunity to make massive strides with the new BP Volkswagen Polo S2000. That is a significant reward, even if it does not reflect in the standings after this event. We remain optimistic and confident that the BP Volkswagen Polo S2000 will deliver on the results we all know it is capable of.’

Lower down the orders, Gugu Zulu/Carl Peskin finished 8th overall in their Polo Vivo S2000, taking a S2000 Challenge victory in the process, thanks to a finishing time more than 20 minutes ahead of their class rivals. Megan Verlaque/Hilton Auffray posted the fastest time in the S1600 class, to lead their rivals by 28 seconds. Sadly, they had to retire close to the end of the second stage. The BP Volkswagen rally team is now focusing its attention on its home event, the Volkswagen Rally, taking place on the Eastern Cape on 13-14 July.

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27 April 2012 ~ 0 Comments

First podium of the 2012 season for South African BP Volkswagen rally team

2012 Sasol Rally: Kuun/Hodgson

The second round of the South African National Rally Championship took place last weekend (21-22 April) in Mpumalanga, and after two days of hard competition, the BP Volkswagen rally team took its first podium of the season. The Sasol Rally saw Hans Weijs Jnr and Bjorn Degandt take their new Polo S2000 to third place – on their second ever event in South Africa. ‘We were pushing at maximum on Friday,’ said Weijs. ‘We did lose a bit of time with one or two issues, but that was fixed and and we got a good result. The team did excellent work on the car and we pushed very hard for our first podium.’

Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries claimed seventh in the S2000 class, a reward for surviving a tough weekend. The pair were robbed several minutes with two punctures, and despite claiming a number of second and third place stage finishes during the two days of competition, there wasn’t enough distance for them to close the gap. Teammates Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson fought their way into 11th place by the second last stage of the event, also having lost time due to punctures. The pair were unable to make the start line of the final stage of the rally and were sadly unable to complete the event.

The S2000 Challenge, a new category in the championship for the 2012 season, saw Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin claim the class victory in their BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000 – finishing sixth overall, just four minutes and 32 seconds behind the overall event leaders. Zulu and Peskin were ninth at the end of stage one, climbing to seventh by the end of the first day and moving into sixth just three stages from the finish. The pair produced a consistently strong performance throughout the event to finish 20 seconds ahead of their nearest class rivals. Meanwhile, BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S1600 pair Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray finished the Sasol Rally in second place in the S1600 class.

‘It has been a very satisfying result after a week of hard work,’ said Mike Rowe, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport. ‘A podium result is very rewarding at this point in the development of the new BP Volkswagen Polo S2000, as is having five Volkswagen cars finish in the top 10. Add an S2000 Challenge victory and three podium places in the S1600 class, and it has been a good rally weekend for Volkswagen Motorsport.’

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26 March 2012 ~ 0 Comments

BP Volkswagen Polo S2000s make strong first showing on 2012 Total Rally

2012 Total Rally: Kuun/Hodgson

With testing over, Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa contested the first round of the 2012 South African National Rally Championship in KwaZulu-Natal last weekend. The first outing of the newly-developed BP Volkswagen Polo S2000, the cars posted both competitive stage times and stage wins on the 200km, 16-stage event. Setting the pace on the first stages, Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson finished at the front of the field, with fellow Polo pairing Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries following behind. The Polo S2000 duo led their opponents home by more than a second, and continued in the latter stages, where Kuun and Hodgson claimed stage victories and top 3 positions.

Electrical system problems forced Fekken and Arries into retirement, while BP Volkswagen newcomers Hans Weijs Jnr and Björn Degandt continued the fight with Kuun and Hodsgon. ‘The new Polo S2000 has great potential,’ says Fekken. ‘We were in front at one stage before our problems surfaced so the potential is obvious. I can feel the new Polo S2000 is a stronger car – it pulls better and feels better. The potential is awesome.’ Kuun and Hodgson showed their experience, rallying hard. Weijs and Degandt didn’t take long to find a rhythm and the pair soon found themselves competing amongst the top five on several occasions, rising to claim a third place finish in stage 12. Kuun and Hodgson claimed fifth overall, while Weijs and Degandt came home in sixth place.

The first rally of 2012 saw a welcome return to form for Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin. Competing in the S2000 Challenge category, they make use of a BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000. Zulu and Peskin rallied to second place in the new S2000 category, marking a strong start to their 2012 season. The BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S1600 of Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray also made good headway in the start of their 2012 season campaign, crossing the finish in stage 16 to claim fourth place in the S1600 class. The next round of the South African national championship will be the Sasol Rally in the Nelspruit area on 20-21 April.

‘We are satisfied with the first rally performance,’ says Mike Rowe head of Volkswagen Motorsport in South Africa. ‘There is a long season ahead with many stages to go, though. We have found some things that need improvement and will be stronger in round two. The development cycle of the new BP Volkswagen Polo S2000 is on track and it won’t be long before we have the pace and finishing capability we are aiming for. The new Polo S2000 is very young, and a great deal of the work that lies ahead involves understanding the car’s performance and how it responds to the adjustments we make,’ said Rowe.

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20 March 2012 ~ 0 Comments

BP Volkswagen team ready for action as Total Rally kicks off 2012 ZA season

2012 Volkswagen Polo S2000

The first round of the South African 2012 National Rally Championship kicks off the country’s rallying season this weekend (23-24 March) and the BP Volkswagen team will pull out all the stops to get ahead early. With the brand new Polo S2000 car unveiled a few weeks ago, the squad will be hoping that the stages in KwaZulu-Natal will be kind to them. Volkswagen Motorsport has six consecutive national rally championship titles to its name with the previous generation Volkswagen Polo S2000 after all.

The latest version of the super-supermini has been crafted for the single purpose of winning rallies, and is packed with the latest rallying technology. A 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine producing 270bhp/200kW driving all four wheels powers the new-for-2012 Polo S2000, pumping 184lb ft/250Nm of torque at 7200rpm, and making use of a Sadev 4/45 six-speed sequential ‘Powershift’-equipped gearbox. As well as a new car, the BP Volkswagen team have two new drivers. Hans Weijs Jnr and Bjorn Degandt are two international competitors who have experience in IRC and WRC championships.

2012 Volkswagen Polo S2000

Seasoned campaigners Lnzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson are carrying on as before, and have won the Total Rally twice before – the last time in 2006 – and are eager to claim the event for the new car. Kuun and Hodgson are also two-time winners of the national championship title, and will definitely be in the hunt for a third. Teammates Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries are in a similar position. They know the territory, they are seasoned campaigners, they have a national rally title under their belts, and they will be in full flight searching for another title.

Meanwhile, Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin have a huge challenge ahead of them in KwaZulu-Natal. They will contest the new S2000 Challenge category of national rallying – and their efforts will be backed up by the BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000. The challenge that lies ahead this season is going to test them, but their rally car that has a pedigree which stretches back to include six national rally titles to help them to the end. Finally, Megan Verlaque and Hilton Auffray tackle the S1600 category with their two-wheel drive BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo in search of national rally championship honours – and the start of their first full season as a team.

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24 February 2012 ~ 0 Comments

New 2012 Polo S2000 rally car unveiled by Volkswagen Racing South Africa

2012 Volkswagen Racing South Africa Polo S2000

All Volkswagen Racing South Africa’s 2012 National Rally Championship hopes rest on the rather broad rear shoulders of the latest Polo S2000 rally car, unveiled to the press at Stellenbosch vineyard yesterday morning. Replacing the Polo Vivo S2000 (and the series four-based Polo S2000 before it), the latest version of the company’s rally challenger, according to Volkswagen Racing South Africa, ‘pushes the boundaries of what has been done previously, and rewrites the rally car rules from the ground up.’

Using some of the most advanced technologies available, the new Polo 6R-based cars are built at Volkswagen’s Uitenhage plant from scratch, and are not deconstructed production vehicles, as was the practice in the past. The S2000 car uses tweaked standard Polo parts (also made locally at Uitenhage), which have been extensively tested to meet the exacting standards of competition at the highest level.

Powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine producing 270bhp/200kW driving all four wheels, the latest Polo S2000 boasts 184lb ft/250Nm of torque at 7200rpm, and makes effective use of a Sadev 4/45 six-speed sequential ‘Powershift’-equipped gearbox. Inside, the interior electronics have new EFI systems and the wiring harnesses are constructed to aircraft specification. Tolerances within the build process are down to 1mm.

Known as the P5R (Volkswagen Polo 5 Rally), the new Polo S2000 is designated PQ250, and is based on the five-door fifth-generation Polo 6R body, unlike the three-door Polo R WRC. Taking the large wheel arches and pumped-up looks from the WRC car, the Polo S2000 does without the oversize rear wing, as it does not comply with S2000 regulations. The rally car is 15mm wider than its road relation, with an 8mm longer wheelbase.

With all these far-reaching changes, drivers now have to undergo specific training to drive the Polo S2000 – it is no longer a turn-key rally machine. And those lucky drivers have also been announced. Long-standing Volkswagen driver pairing Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson will drive one car, with Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries piloting another. Newcomers Hans Weijs Jnr and Bjorn Degandt, will drive the third car in Volkswagen Racing South Africa’s offensive. With an enviable record of six consecutive national rally titles since 2005 in the S2000 class, the VW team has set the standard for all other crews to follow.

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