21 March 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Sasolracing triumph at
2014 Tour Natal Rally

2014 Tour Natal Rally: Zulu/Peskin

It was a good start to the season for the Volkswagen Sasolracing team over the weekend of 14-15 March, as the regrouped South African rally squad scored its first podium result of the 2014 season. Hans Weijs Jnr and Björn Degandt claimed third place in KawZulu-Natal, their Polo S2000 proving to be a more than capable steed.

It was the duo’s first event back in South Africa and the Tour Natal provided high temperatures and humidity levels, as well as challenging slippery and loose gravel surfaces.

‘The stages here in KwaZulu-Natal are quite slippery,’ said Weijs. ‘We made notes on our recce pass and used those for the first of the stages, pushing harder on the second run. Running first on the road on Friday was quite taxing but we made sure to keep our times quite close to the leaders. It feels good claiming a podium in this event, we are on a good level and think we will be pushing from stage one at the next rally.’

It was a good event for the other Sasolracing drivers, too. The new partnership of Henk Lategan and Pierre Arries worked well, with the pair claiming fifth place overall. Always in the top five times of each stage on day two saw them pushing for a podium spot.

‘Running wide on a corner in the second-last stage, we beached the car,’ said Lategan. ‘The surfaces here are so slippery that if you get it just a little bit off the line, things can go wrong quickly. Overall it wasn’t a bad rally and Pierre and I are working well together. I think it will take a few more rallies to get up to speed, but it is going well.’

For Polo S2000 newcomers Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin, it wasn’t quite such a good outing. Finishing as a Super Rally entry rather than in the points, the former Polo Vivo S1600 pair were still positive after their first event with a more powerful car.

‘This is a whole new way of driving,’ said Zulu. ‘The brakes, the suspension, the grip, the level of control is just so different, so advanced over the previous generation we raced last year. I still need to build full confidence, but the car is amazing and I hope to get to grips with it very quickly.’

Mike Rowe, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport was pleased with his team’s result. ‘This event is notoriously tough with difficult road conditions. Hans and Björn did very well on Friday, but sweeping the roads at the head of the field certainly took its toll in terms of time. Henk Lategan and Pierre Arries are doing well, their partnership solidified tremendously after the first day and we could see the increase in pace today. Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin showed a lot of pace and this shows real promise for them the rest of the season.’

Other Polo finishers included AC Potgieter and Tommy du Toit who came in 13th in their Polo S1600 and 19th-placed Chad Van Beurden and Nico Swartz also in a Polo S1600. Paulus Franken and Henry Kohne brought their Manitou Polo S1600 home in 23rd place, while Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000 pair Thilo Himmel and Armand Du Toit finished one place below Franken and Kohne.

The next round of the 2014 South African National Rally Championship is the Sasol Rally, which sees the drivers head to Nelspruit on 11-12 April.

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