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Overview of the R50kChallenge 2013

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The 50k challenge initiative was born at the beginning of the year to enhance rally in the Eastern Cape. The plan was to find additional sponsors once Heine Sport had committed as a goodwill gesture, to cover the amount in anticipation of finding alternative sponsors. With the lucrative prizes on offer, it was decided to reconstruct the club championship to give everyone a fair chance without having to purchase expensive equipment and keep the competition fair and recreate the pleasurable part of Motor Sport, often forgotten, chasing national championships

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S1 - 1400 cc

S2 - 1600 cc

S3 - 2000 cc louw

The classes exclude turbo charging and 4 wheel drive with limited rules and competitors score points for class position and minimum points for overall position, providing there are 3 starters per class.

The championship consisted of 6 events over the year, including the Volkswagen National rally which took place around Port Elizabeth, Longmore Forests, Fountains Mall Jeffery’s Bay and the final event in the Uitenhage area which included night stages and Aldo Scribante race track.

The enthusiasm and interest grew from 9 rally cars in 2012, to 25 at the end of 2013. The 50k was launched officially in March with a fanfare of dancing girls at Cubana, Mc Arthur Baths on the beach front with invited guests, press and Mark Cronje, the current National Champion, as guest of honour who gave some encouragement to the younger competitors. He also donated a floating trophy for the rookie of the day and the main sponsor included an amount of R 1000.00 per event. The challenge caught the interest of out of town competitors from George, Joubertina, Humansdorp, Uitenhage and East London.

All 6 events counted with no drops and competitors received a shield with plated background ARC 50k Challenge and competition number displayed with a facility to attach shields for each position gained including non finish. Prizegivings were well supported and festive, without any protestable incidents.

The contest over the year was between driver and navigators Jacques Louw/ Gabriel Groener (S1) Volkswagen Citi Golf, Rikus Schmidt/Stephno Pieterse (S3) Volkswagen Golf 2lt, Ido Steyn/Mark Irvine (S3) Ford Escort ,where consistency and class wins kept the championship and prize within reach.

Towards the end of the season and before the last event additional sponsors were included which increased the prize value to around R 80 000.00 plus the Heine Sport donation of R 25.00 per point for the runner up winners, gave hope to the competitors that were out of contention as an added incentive for performance.

The final round of the challenge went down to the wire with 99,96 and 90 points separating the first three competitors. The organisers and sponsors made sure the final round was fair and included 3 night stages and a variety of gravel, tar and mud with the final stages held in steady rain.

The leading contenders of Jacques & Gabriel were hard pressed by Rikus & Stephno which closed the championship by one point after Jacques overshot a corner at high speed on 2 wheels and damaged the wiper blades which resulted in poor visibility, compromising his time in the last two stages.

The end result and championship winners were Jacques Louw ahead of Rikus Schmidt by one point, followed by Iddo Steyn 3 points and respective navigators. The prize was a 2013 Polo partly assembled with Volkswagen parts donated, voucher of R 10 000.00 for parts and accessories, rally racing suits, boots and accessories, Portable gazebo branded with 2013 rally champions and sponsors logo’s and a custom steering wheel in honour of Ex Volkswagen international motor sport manager Andre Van Der Watt who was instrumental in organising the regional RA5 development programme.

The 50k prize and annual prize giving was held at the Hexagon farm estate where many of the competitors spent the week end in a final rally that resembled a Dakar international rally with spot lights, tents and pit crews which lit up the area, and included rally cars equipped with powerful spotlights.

Sponsors who made this championship special are: – Heine Sport – GMP Motor Sport - ATS Motor sport accessories – Cape Fabric Engineering – GC Diesel – Volkswagen Motor Sport.

Article supplied by Neville Bartle

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