Rally offers full-throttle fun in KZN

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

It was a mixture of thrills and spills and foot to the floor adrenalin racing in the opening round of the 2009 SA Rally Championship in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend.

While the South Coast was the venue for the first six stages on Friday, it was in Pinetown, just north of Durban, that most spectators gathered for the final stage of the day, a 23km night race.

Thanks to the cooperation of the local authorities who cordoned off a large number of streets for the event, spectators were treated to an evening of high-octane fun.

Gugu Zulu, behind the wheel of a Toyota Yaris, and with navigator Carl Peskin beside him, gave the more fancied Subaru Imprezas and Mitsubishi Evos a wake-up call with some precision driving through the tight corners.

Hitting speeds close to 170kmh down the main straight the large crowd shouted on their favourite teams as if at a football match.

Not so lucky earlier in the day was 2006 national champion Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson in a Volkswagen Polo who crashed out early in stage one after hitting a bank and rolling their car.

It was Johnny Gemmell and his Zimbabwean co-driver Peter Marsh in a Toyota Auris who eventually took first place come Saturday afternoon, two minutes ahead of Charl Wilken and Greg Godrich.

Standing on the winner's podium and accepting a trophy from Miss South Africa, Tatum Keshwar, Gemmell dedicated the win to his support crew and mechanics.