Balancing the risks
FROM the moment the Basil Read/bizhub Ford Rally Team arrived in Sabie for the Sasol Rally recce (reconnaissance) run, it was clear that the mid-week rains would demand a change in tactics. I certainly thought that an all out attack would be risky given the slippery and rough conditions and a safe points haul would be the sensible thing to do.
The route was rougher than expected and would favour those who didn’t care if they damaged their cars, thus the risk necessary to fight for a win given the conditions wasn’t an option for us. I didn’t have confidence in the suspension set-up for the many jumps on the route and thus couldn’t attack as hard as usual — it’s an area of the car that we haven’t fully explored yet. Thus our game plan was to look after the car and reach the finish, hopefully in the top five.
Despite the difficult conditions we had a rally long battle with the handbrake not working, eventually traced to the rear differential not disengaging. Unfortunately it lost us a lot of time, especially on the tight and tricky tar stages with their tight hairpins.
We did though manage to win one of the spectator stages in White River. All in all I must admit that it was rather a frustrating rally for us, as I would have preferred to go flat out, but we had a plan and stuck to it. Nonetheless, I am happy with our result, a sixth place overall moved us up nicely in the Championship and we are now certainly well within striking distance of the front runners.
The 2011 Sasol Rally was certainly extremely well organised and again a lot of effort went into the marketing of the event. It seems that the organisers are spending a lot of money in this area, which I am extremely excited about, and I certainly hope we can keep this up throughout the rest of the season.
The event was too rough, which brought on a lot of retirements and punctures for many crews. This is an area where the organisers must improve. The damage caused by rough roads are becoming increasingly more expensive, especially considering the extremely hot pace we are driving at these days. We all want to go flat out, but sometimes the budget doesn’t allow it. Therefore, on these rough events you will see the works teams always seem to be a step ahead of the rest.
Unfortunately the rally turned around and bit the four car Volkswagen team with their flat out approach, with their best placed driver only managing to finish in seventh place after the rough roads inflicted a lot of damage to their cars. This left the door open for Toyota to claim a 1-2 result on this demanding event.
Charl flies over the rough roads on the Sasol Rally.