Bal­anc­ing the risks

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

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.

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