Rally breaks new ground
Heavy rains in the Western Cape coastal region have resulted in some forced changes to the gravel road special stages of this month's Garden Route Rally.
The event - round six of the South African Rally Championship - takes place in the George and Knysna areas on August 26 and 27.
Route director and assistant clerk of the course, Joe Fourie, has had to find new access and stage roads to replace some of those originally planned for the two-day event as a result of the wet weather.
"We're confident the gravel roads we have now selected will not be affected by further rain as they have survived pretty well so far. A lot of the route will be 'twin track' roads which have become overgrown as a result of little use.
"It's a tight and technical route with eight gravel special stages and two tar stages. Competitors can expect a good test of their driving and navigating skills," he promised.
The rally breaks new ground in the national championship as it returns to an area last used in the early 1990s and none of today's competitors are likely to have raced in anger over any of the selected roads.
It is also the second successive round featuring forest stages, particularly popular with competitors and spectators alike, following the recent Volkswagen Rally in the Eastern Cape.
The rally starts from the new Garden Route Mall, situated close to George airport, at noon on the Friday.
The 5km first stage is situated just 400m s from the start and adjacent to the mall.
It will be followed by three forest stages in the Outeniqua mountains and a short tar stage in Knysna.
The overnight halt and parc ferme will be at the 325-hectare Simola Estate.
Saturday's action starts at 8am from Simola with a new stage adjacent to the property before repeating Friday's three forest special stages plus a fourth forest stage and a final tar stage at the estate.
All the leading competitors in both the overall and junior rally championships will be in action, with the premier Super 2000 class promising another close and exciting battle.