26 September 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Success for Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000s at Toyota Cape Dealer Rally

2015 Volkswagen Polo S2000 ZA, Toyota Cape Dealer Rally: Lategan/White

With two Polo S2000s taking podium places at the 2015 Toyota Cape Dealer Rally on 18-19 September, the Volkswagen Sasolracing team celebrated at the event in the Western Cape. The crews of Gugu Zulu and Hilton Auffray, and Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries finished second and third respectively. In addition, Volkswagen Sasolracing was also handed the Manufacturer’s Award.

‘Best finish to date’
Zulu was understanably pleased with his and Auffray’s result: ‘Second place on the podium is my best finish to date,’ he said. ‘The longer, sweeping stages out here in the Western Cape make for a very tough and long event and we had to push – but not too hard. Rallying is a fine line between absolute pace and caution to get to the finish.’

Fekken and Arries meanwhile scored a second consecutive podium appearance on the tracks around Cape Town & Malmesbury. ‘This is a very good result for the team,’ remarked Fekken. ‘We had a puncture which cost us time, but we had a really good event overall. We pushed right up until the end, ending with a clean rally and another podium.’

Sadly, the Polo S2000 of Henk Lategan and Barry White developed an issue on the final section of stage 13 and ended in retirement for the third Volkswagen Sasolracing crew. The pair came home fourth, but had put in the best performance of the weekend. The first stage of day two saw the duo third-quickest, followed by second quickest times for the following four stages. Lategan and White actually produced the fastest times for stages 10, 11 and 12.

‘A fantastic result’
Mike Rowe, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa, was pleased with the overall result of his team but disappointed with the retirement of Lategan and White: ‘It’s a fantastic result. The Volkswagen Sasolracing team did well and were there at the finish when it mattered, crossing the line for second and third.

‘The stars of the rally were Henk Lategan and Barry White who didn’t put a foot wrong the whole event. Henk and Barry really should have won today: they had great pace and won rally stages, but aren’t here at the finish through no fault of their own.’

The eighth and final round of the South African National Rally Championship is the Polokwane Rally which takes place on 16-17 October around Limpopo.

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19 August 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Manitou Group SA rally team second
at Imperial Toyota Tshwane Motor Rally

Co-driver of the Manitou Group SA rally team Polo S1600, Henry Kohne, recounts how the team finished second in the S1600 class at the 2015 Imperial Toyota Tshwane Motor Rally, the sixth round of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship

2015 Volkswagen Polo S1600,  Imperial Toyota Tshwane Motor Rally: Franken/Kohne

The 2015 Imperial Toyota Tshwane Motor Rally took place on the weekend of 14-15 August 2015. The event kicked off at Fort Klapperkop in Tshwane on Friday and stretched out to the Cullinan area for a total of 10 gravel stages on Friday and Saturday.

Character-building weekend
It was a character-building weekend for the team. A puncture on day one and an electrical issue causing a misfire on day two meant the team struggled to keep up with the pace over the course of the weekend.

The competition was fierce with only seconds separating the stage times of the top five. The Manitou Group SA rally team was in fifth position at the end of day one but managed to fight its way back to second position in class S1600 at the end of day two.

‘Home event’
‘We are fortunate with our result, it was a frustrating weekend at times but when all went well we posted good stage times. We are now looking forward to the last two events of the series. Cape Town is my home event, but we have a lot of hard work to put in if we want to take the fight for the championship,’ said Polo S1600 driver Paulus Franken.

Paulus Franken and Henry Kohne in the Manitou Group supported Volkswagen Polo R2 are now 2.5 points behind Championship leader, Guy Botteril in the S1600 class with two rounds remaining in the 2015 South African National Rally Championship.

The next event is round seven, the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally, which takes place from 18-19 September. The Manitou Group SA rally team is supported by Manitou Group, Supa Quick Birchleigh, Volkswagen Motorsport and SASOL Racing.

[Image: Dave Ledbitter/rallyworld.net]

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27 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Manitou Group SA rally team victorious at Volkswagen Rally

Henry Kohne, co-driver of the Manitou Group SA rally team Polo S1600 recalls how the team took the S1600 top spot at the 2015 Volkswagen Rally on the Eastern Cape, the fifth round of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship

2015 Volkswagen Rally: Manitou Group SA Volkswagen Polo S1600

Heavy rains
The 2015 Volkswagen Rally took place in Port Elizabeth on the weekend of 17-19 July and the Manitou Group SA Rally team won the S1600 class ahead of Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk van Heerden’s Toyota Etios R2 in very tricky conditions.

The event consisted of twelve gravel stages running over two days – the second day provided extreme weather conditions with heavy rain fall. Two of the twelve stages were cancelled due to the heavy rains but the teams had to battle it out in the remainder of the stages.

The conditions made it especially challenging for the S1600 teams, being only front-wheel drive and difficult to handle in the wet conditions. Many of the teams were caught out and forced to retire, but the Manitou Group SA rally team managed to steer clear of trouble and finish on the top spot of the podium.

‘According to plan’
‘We were hoping for a good event as it is almost like a home event to us with Volkswagen being based in Uitenhage. We had a good test before the event and were confident with the car and in the team that we could finish well, providing that we didn’t have any issues on the event,’ said driver Paul Franken.

‘Our car was great and everything just went according to plan. This was a special win for the Manitou Group team as it also puts our championship back on track,’ Franken added.

The Manitou Group SA rally team is supported by Manitou Group, Supa Quick Birchleigh, Volkswagen Motorsport and SASOL Racing. Round six of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship is the Cullinan Rally in Gauteng on 14-15 August.

[Image: RunRideDive.com]

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27 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Adverse weather puts paid to Polo S2000 podiums at Volkswagen Rally

2015 Volkswagen Polo S2000, Volkswagen Rally: Zulu/Auffray

The South African Volkswagen Sasolracing team missed out on podium places at its home event, the Volkswagen Rally, through adverse weather conditions which affected the teams’ performance. Despite the highest Volkswagen crew being place fifth, the Manufacturer Award went to the car maker based at Uitenhage.

Heavy rains
The 17-18 July event around Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape was round five of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship. Severe inclement weather resulted in the cancellation of two stages, but did add in extra excitement for the spectators who braved the heavy rains.

The highest-placed Volkswagen Sasolracing crew was Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries. Their Polo S2000 finished fifth on their the pair’s third outing together. By the end of the first day, the duo were fifth overall. And by the end of stage 10 on day two, they had shown they were quick enough to hold on to that spot.

‘It was a very good event, as every Volkswagen Rally proves to be,’ said Fekken. ‘We had a character-building weekend together and Pierre and I pushed hard for fast stage times. We can’t quite match the pace of the leaders yet, but we are adapting well to the left-hand drive layout and will reach our goal sooner rather than later.’

Bent wheel
Sixth place went to Henk Lategan and Barry White, who posted good stage times, with seven in the top five. A bent wheel lost them some time, but they recovered well and during day two charged from a deficit of nearly one-and-a-half minutes behind Gugulethu Zulu and Hilton Auffray to 28 seconds ahead at the end of stage 10.

‘We started the rally a little conservatively,’ said Lategan. ‘It was, however the flat wheel and damage we got in stage two that really posed a problem. We hit something and bent the wheel. We couldn’t get it off to change the tyre. That cost us around five minutes, in just stage two of the rally, and it was very difficult to try and recover from there.’

‘Major moment’

Zulu and Auffray rallied their Polo S2000 to one spot below Lategan and White, coming home in seventh place. Stage one gave them a fourth place result, while the second stage yielded a fifth spot.

‘We always look forward to the Volkswagen Rally,’ said Zulu. ‘We had a good start in stage one, but a major moment saw us lose a lot of time. The technicians did a great job getting the Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000 repaired and then we did decent times,’ he continued.

‘Adverse conditions’
‘I am proud of the Volkswagen Sasolracing team members for their performance under some really adverse conditions,’ said Mike Rowe, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport. ‘The service crews performed their task well, made sure the Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000s were ready to compete throughout the event and displayed good camaraderie in the face of some terrible weather and working conditions.’

‘In motorsport there is a saying that you cannot win an event that you sponsor and the Volkswagen Rally seems to prove it. The Volkswagen Sasolracing team rallied hard, but were just not quite able to hold its competition at bay,’ Rowe continued.

The S1600 class was won by Paul Franken and Henry Kohne from the Manitou Group SA in another Polo. Round six of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship is the Cullinan Rally which takes place on Friday and Saturday, 14 and 15 August.

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24 June 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000 rallies forth to top five place at Bela-Bela

2015 Volkswagen Polo S2000, Bela-Bela Rally: Zulu/Auffray

Gugu Zulu and Hilton Auffray were once again among the top five finishers at a round of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship. The Volkswagen Sasolracing pair took their Polo S2000 from seventh place at the end of day one to fourth place overall at the Limpopo Province Bela-Bela Rally (19-20 June). It was Zulu’s third consecutive top five result.

Destroy the time deficit
The 10-stage event saw Henk Lategan and his co-driver Barry White just miss the top five, as their blue and white-liveried Polo S2000 finished sixth. A puncture struck the pair early in the opening stage and they constantly battled to destroy the time deficit from their ninth place finish caused by the setback.

‘We had high hopes for this rally after the last round,’ said Lategan. ‘A front wheel puncture in stage one and struggling with the loose sand was a real problem. I think in my enthusiasm to get into the rhythm of the rally I might have been over-driving the car, making it more difficult. A second puncture in stage seven cost us three minutes but in the final loop we tried a new setup and the times improved considerably,’ the young driver continued.

Little compensation
For Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries, it was a similar story. Although an overnight third place at the end of day one was a promising result, the pair clipped a hidden tree stump in stage eight and damaged the suspension of their Polo S2000, causing them to retire. A stage six win was little compensation.

The Bela-Bela Rally marked only Fergen and Arries’ second outing together since they were reunited in the Volkswagen Sasolracing team at the Secunda Motor Rally last month and it was also only Fekken’s second outing in the left-hand drive Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000.

‘Pierre and I were pushing quite hard, and were comfortably in third on Friday,’ said Fekken. ‘Unfortunately we clipped a tree stump just off-line on one of the corners in stage eight and this pulled our suspension out. I’m also trying to get used to the left-hand drive as quickly as possible which I think shows in our stage times but we’ve got a little way to go yet,’ he continued.

Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee took the Bela-Bela win in the Team Castrol Toyota Yaris S2000. Other Polo finishers included Thilo Himmel and Armand du Toit in ninth place. The top Polo S1600 was the car of Marko Himmel and Gert Nienaber in 15th place, followed by Paulus Franken and Henry Kohne six places behind.

The Volkswagen Sasolracing team now turns its attention to its home event, the Volkswagen Rally in the Eastern Cape on Friday and Saturday, 17 and 18 July.

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