The fourth instalment of the very popular Speed Rally concept was held at the Aero Club Airweek on the 10th March. The race format has proved so popular that the initial plans for thirty teams had to be extended to thirty-five unfortunately one of the teams had to withdraw so only thirty-four teams took part.
A Speed Rally is generally a two day affair with the teams flying teat flights on the Friday to determine their handicap, then of course there is the “Briefing on Steroids” where the teams are issued with their race numbers, this is generally a hi-energy affair with each teams theme song being played as they receive their numbers. I believe that part of the popularity of the Speed Rally can be attributed to the enthusiasm shown by race organisers and especially Jonty Esser, his spirt is contagious and it inspires all the competitors to step up a gear.
Mary de Klerk hosted a training session on how to fly a Speed Rally on Friday afternoon many of the competitors and some non-competitors joined the session and judging by the quality of the flying this training was definitely taken to heart. Hopefully the non-competitors that attended will be entering future Speed Rallies.
At the evening briefing Rob Jonkers gave a brief description of the rules and a breakdown of where penalty points can be incurred. After the serious stuff it was time for some fun, Franz Smit from PilotInsure was invited up to the stage to present each team with their race number. PilotInsure was the main sponsor for this Speed Rally, without sponsorship like this this type of event could not become a reality. The race numbers are allocated according to the teams’ standings on the championship and everyone was after the “No 1”, The Pilots Post team of Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk have manged to hold onto the No 1 position from the first Speed Rally in Secunda last year.
Mary de Klerk, Phil Wakeley and Willie Bodenstein
Gerda Pinaaar and Thys van der Merwe aiming for No 1 (actually No10)
Saturday Race Day arrived and at first the weather looked like it might ruin everyone’s day, but the morning fog and low cloud started lifting and, as Jonty would say, “Ladies and Gentlemen we have a race”. After the race briefing it was time to get to the aircraft and await the Scrutineers. Chareen, Lizelle, Jean, Conrad, Frans and David went through each aircraft sealing up any portable GPS capable devices, checking that all the fuel tanks were full and when the time came handing out the route papers. Each team receive their envelopes with their loggers at their aircraft 20 minute prior to take-off time, and then taxi to the starting line within 10 minutes of take-off time.
The first aircraft to take to the air departed at 09:55 and the fastest was almost an hour later at 10:50 all the aircraft should reach the finish at the same time, if of course they don’t go on a sightseeing excursion. The finish was planned for 11:30.
To assist the teams at getting their take-off roll accurate, a starting colour panel was used which was set up next to the start line on the runway by Chief Marshal Hans Potgieter and Mark Clulow, which would release them at their allotted time slot.
Speed Rallies have two competitions in one event, the fastest route flown around the predetermined course and the most accurate navigation, as each team is competing against a handicap any aircraft type can enter from your very fast turbo singles and twins to a slow LSA all on an equal footing.
This Speed rally was one for the record books, not only did it have the largest field, it was also the first Rally that not one of the competitors got lost all the entrants flew very good tracks with a few minor hitches along the way for some. The first two aircraft were separated by only 8 seconds and the entire field were home in less than 7 minutes, probably making Middelburg Airfield the busiest airfield in Africa for those 7 minutes.
Best and worst track flown
Unfortunately, one of the teams didn’t make it to the starting line Jaco Goosen and Karel du Preez Cessna 182RG’s port side main gear disappeared into an aardvark hole that gave way as they were pushing the aircraft onto the taxiway before the start. The aircraft’s vertical stabiliser was damaged, and they were sadly side-lined.
Once all the teams were safe on the ground they had to wait until the evening function after the Airshow to get their results, I’m sure for some of the competitors it became a very long day.
At the dinner Jonty Esser took over the duties of Master of Ceremonies and after awarding Richardt Lovett the Trophy for hosting the Rally and awarding Jaco and Karel a special “Hard Luck” award it was time to get down to business.
The overall winners in the best handicap speed were none other than the team of Jonty and Jonathan Esser in a Foxbat (ZU-DYE).
In second place was Arthur de Kock and Freddie van Rooyen in their Jabiru J430 (ZU-MEL)
Hendrik and Jandre Loots another father and son team came in third in their Sling 2 (ZU-IHK).
The winners in the accuracy category were the team of David Ross and James Braid in their Sling 2 (ZU-JAR) David has competed in every Speed Rally so far and is a contender for the coveted No 1.
Second place was Johan van Eeden and Cor Esterhuizen in their RV7 (ZU-IHH)
Ron Stirk and Von Hamman managed a third place in their C150 (ZS-IWD).
Many thanks to the Middelburg Aero Club for hosting this fantastic event, the SAPFA team of Hans Potgieter with the ground marshals, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Dirk and Louna de Vos and Mark Clulow doing the scoring with our handicapping guru Chester Chandler, Chareen Shillaw, Lizelle Kruger handing out competition papers to the crews and to Jonty & Lizelle for putting together an awesome Friday evening launch event.