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The "King of Longmore" 2014


Every year after the annual Volkswagen sponsored event which is run in one of the most challenging forests available to the Algoa Rally Club in the Eastern Cape, I take a look at the previous editions and compare stage times. From that I normally give the informal title of King of Longmore to the most deserving driver / navigator pair for that event.


This year saw the Algoa Rally Club performing miracles in the lead up to the event to secure the annual event’s best stages in Longmore forest. At first it nearly didn’t happen due to unmentionable reasons, but that is history and we have the fortunate luck to look at the stage times on the stages that were run.

To go back to when Jan van Riebeeck arrived in the Cape of Good Hope (on the Titanic was it ??). The Culturama stage is probably the most Epic stage you will ride ever (in my opinion) in a rally car at full speed. I have been keeping track of the Fastest stage time for some years now, and the most significant pattern or change in pattern I should say was Route Notes or Pace Notes. Well, I have to add Pace Notes as some Navigators (and Drivers) have fine tuned their notes for this stage to the point that it is no more just Route Notes. Then motor vehicle technology has also added some speed, but not as much as the notes.

The stage winning pace for Culturama in 2005 (only run once) was 11:36 by Serge Damseaux in an S2000 Toyota RunX, the main reason for picking 2005 was the fact that S2000 was run in SA (and the World) for the first time that year, secondly Route Notes were introduced in 2007.

The stage winning time in 2014 for the first run of two was 10:45.3 by Mark Cronje in his Ford Fiesta S2000, and for the repeat of the stage was 10.35.8 also by Mark Cronje in his Ford Fiesta S2000.

To recap, the 2005 times were for a new breed of rally car that was being run blind on tulips and memory alone. The Culturama stage record currently stands at 10.27.6 by Mark Cronje in his Ford Fiesta S2000 set in 2011.

The fastest 1600 in 2005? It was Craig Trott / John Costa in a Toyota Corolla A6 in a time of 13:06.

The fastest front wheel car was Hergen Fekken / Pierre Arries in a VW Golf4 in class A7 in a time of 12:10.

In 2014 the fastest 1600cc rally car was clocked at 11:48.0 by Guy Botteril in his Toyota Etios R2 specification
rally car, Which of course is also the new 1600 (2WD) record.

Will we see the previous benchmark for the S2000 eclipsed by the current 1600’s within the next 2 or 3 years?

The PPC stage is difficult to judge as sections of this stage is normally in different state of condition every year, either the first part is rough as hell and the rest good, or the middle part is rough, etc, so it makes this stage really difficult to to keep track of the real stage record, but the record currently belongs to Mark and Robin in their Fiesta which was set in 2013 at a time of 14:10.9. Their 2014 attempt came close at 14:12.0.

The Sinkdam stage, well the first thing that jumps into my head is the Fourways junction, also known as “The Blind Rise”. Get this one wrong, and you have booked yourself a free ride in an ambulance! But get it right, you will have goose bumps every time you think of that perfect feeling. For those who don’t know, Sinkdam is the exact reverse of Culturama stage. The most consistent winner of this stage is Johnny Gemmel, he just had
that feeling for this stage and would top the times almost guaranteed every time. So it was no wonder that he had the Stage record which was set in the “fastest” year of 2011 at a time of 10:34.7 in his Toyota Auris.

Technically he still holds the record as the Flying Finish control was moved 200 metres earlier to give the “new” timing clocks better communication to the stop control.

Mark and Robin’s attempt in 2014 awarded them a new Stage Record time of 10:31.7 which in theory should match Gemmel’s record time set in 2011, but not beat it in my opinion.

So who was the 2014 King of Longmore? Well it was unanimously given to Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton for their 4 stage wins out of 5 on the Longmore stages with a total time margin of 49.2 seconds over Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee in a Toyota Yaris S2000, and 99.8 seconds over Hans Weisj and Bjorn Degant in their VW Polo S2000.

The Prince of Longmore (1600’s) goes to Guy Botteril and Simon Vacy-Lylle for their 3 stage wins out 5. Chad van Beurden and Nico Swartz in the VW Polo R2 also deserves some credit as Guy and Simon had mechanical issues on the one stage and thus on total time Chad does beat Guy by 33.6seconds, but the title in this case goes to Guy and Simon for their efforts.


Article by Rikus Fourie

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