The Speed Rally circuit returned to its place of birth, Secunda Airfield, to conclude the 2018-2019 season. The Speed Rally concept was born a year ago when SAPFA members were looking for a way to increase the participation in Rally Flying as there had been a serious decline in the preceding years. A totally new concept was born, it was so successful that the 2019 PTAR adopted the new format and the Prestigious Presidents Trophy Air Race was saved from being relegated to the annuals of history.
The Speed Rally’s Started last year, with the first event being held in Secunda on the Saturday 6 October 2018, no-one knew what to expect form the new format. Jonty Essers infectious enthusiasm spread quickly and soon a total of twenty three aircraft had entered for the first ever Speed Rally. After the event it was evident that SAPFA were on to something big here and since then it has grown exponentially.
Secunda October 2018
The second Speed Rally was organised for November and was hosted at Springs Airfield. Word had got around and a cap of thirty aircraft was implemented, needless to say the cap was quickly reached and a waiting list for prospective entrants was established. After the success and popularity of the first edition a season championship was designed with teams receiving points for Navigation and Speed. The first leader of the championship, the team of Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk, were awarded the coveted NO.1 for this rally. The no.1 position has since then changed hands a few times.
Springs November 2018
The popularity of the new format was spreading fast and wide, so wide that the aviation community in the Western Cape invited the organisers to bring the concept down to Morningstar. Sponsorship for this new flying discipline was gaining momentum and on 2 February 2019 the Morningstar Speed Rally was held, unfortunately the weather didn’t quite play along, preventing some of the teams from getting to the venue and also causing some of the teams to abandon the rally halfway thorough. Thirty Aircraft had entered the rally but due to the weather only twenty-six of them could start and seven were forced to abandon and head home. Despite the weather the rally was a great success.
Morningstar February 2019
In March the Aero Club of South Africa hosted their annual air week at Middleburg Airfield, the ideal opportunity to introduce Speed Rally’s to a wider aviation audience. The Middleburg Speed Rally was the first Rally sponsored by PilotInsure, a name that has become synonymous with Speed Rally’s. Due to popular demand the cap of thirty was lifted thirty-five and this was reached almost immediately, unfortunately due to a technical problem one of the teams had to withdraw on short notice and the rally went ahead with thirty-four teams.
Middelburg March 2019
Bethlehem was chosen as the venue for the fifth instalment, the cap for the number of entries had once again been lifted, now allowing forty aircraft to enter. The popularity was growing even some of the veteran PTAR competitors decided to come and try their hand at this exciting twist on rally flying. After the Bethlem rally the championship was blown wide open with any of the top six teams in with a good chance of taking the championship at the season finale in Secunda.
Bethlehem June 2019
The Secunda Airfield was a hive of activity on Friday with team’s test flying and generally getting ready for the big day. On Friday evening the customary “Briefing on Steroids” was held with all the teams receiving their official race numbers. Rob Jonkers kicked the evening off with a safety briefing and an explanation of the rules for the race. A decision was also taken to create an entrance gate to all the turning points which the aircraft must pass through to prevent penalties. The gate was a three Nautical mile wide line 90˚ to entrance of the turning point fortunately none of the teams missed the gate.
The weather on Saturday morning was a bit nasty with high winds and a fast descending cloud base, some of the teams had to withdraw as they were only planning on arriving on Saturday morning but the weather in Gauteng didn’t allow them to get there. After the morning briefing it was “go” time, the weather wasn’t improving or deteriorating so a decision was made to get the rally underway.
The teams got their aircraft parked in their assigned parking’s and waited for the scrutineers to come and check that the tanks are brimmed and all contraband was sealed in the bags provided. The course route is given to the teams twenty minutes before their take off time, that’s when the frantic scramble begins. Ten minutes before take-off the teams taxi up to the starting area and wait for their turn to get airborne.
Chief Marshal Jacques Jacobs and Mark Clulow manned the start point; the starting area can get very busy with some of the aircraft leaving within seconds of the one in front of them. All the aircraft should, if they flew a perfect track at handicap speed, arrive at exactly midday.
A new dimension was added to this Rally with live tracking offered by Beagle Tracking, spectators could watch the top fives race unfold live on a big screen in the hangar. The spectators and supporters are normally totally in the dark as to what is happening out on the course while the rally is in progress. Hopefully in future all the aircraft will have trackers, this will really add excitement for the people on the ground as well as a new dimension of safety for all the crews.
Beegle Trackers are designed for aviators, by aviators – who also happen to be engineers. Their products are designed to provide unprecedented ease of use, yet feature rich, freeing up the pilot to focus on flying. Besides keeping people on the ground informed of your whereabouts, noteworthy events such as take-off, landing, high rate of descent, and many more, can easily be configured to be emailed or sent as a text message to interested parties. Beegle is a trademark of Intricode Solutions, and comes from a high pedigree, having been in the Iridium tracking business for over 15 years with products ranging from animal and bird tracking, marine remote engine monitoring, personnel tracking and bespoke tracking solutions, and is a proud supplier to NASA. Beagle Tracking in addition to supplying the top five teams with trackers, sponsor the team of Johan Whitman and Quinton Kruger, unfortunately they got a bit lost due to an ineffective compass.
The finish to this rally was very exciting with fifteen aircraft crossing through the finish gate within two minutes, six minutes later all the aircraft had crossed the line safely. The closeness of the pack proves that the Speed Rally handicapping system is very fair to all competitors. I personally believe this is the secret to the speed rally’s success. Once all the loggers were retrieved it was time to download the data and score each individual track. The team of scores must be commended for their hard work as the number of entrants increase, the harder they have to work.
After a long nervous wait for all the competitors it was time for the awards ceremony in the main hangar. The main sponsor of not only this but the last three Speed Rally’s, PilotInsure was given the opportunity to address the competitors. David le Roux gave everyone a brief overview of what PilotInsure can offer them. Rob Jonkers then gave everyone a breakdown of how the day went, some of the tracks shown were almost perfect and some went a wrong.
Each competitor was then awarded with commemorative certificates and medals for taking part in the “Finale” of the 2019 Speed Rally season. Then the moment everyone had been waiting for the results of the days rally as well as the announcement of the first Speed Rally Series Champions.
Leon Bouttell and Martin Meyer in their Harmony were the winners in the Speed against Handicap with an overall gain of 1 minute 14 seconds on their handicap time.
Martin Meyer and Leon Bouttell
Johann Horn and Deidre Batchelor in their Sling finished just 14 seconds behind them, this was this teams first speed rally.
Johann Horn and Deidre Batchelor
Hendrik and Jandre Loots in yet another Sling ZU-IHK managed a very respectable third place.
Hendrik and Jandre Loots
In the track accuracy competition of David Ross and James Braid in a Sling took top honours with less that 1.82% overflown, this is quite remarkable in any level of rally flying competition.
David Ross and James Braid
In a close second was the father and son team of Ryan and Chris Shillaw in a Cirrus SR22 unfortunately they were not present to receive their trophy, Shareen Shillaw accepted it on their behalf.
Third place belonged to Secunda locals Bob Cohoe and Johann van Niekerk in an American Champion Citabria.
Bob Cohoe and Johann van Niekerk
The winner of the First Speed Rally Champion Title was the team of Leon Bouttell and Martin Meyer, they were one of only a handful of teams that competed in all the Speed Rally’s in the season.
Special thanks must go to all the wonderful people from Secunda Flying Club for hosting this event and going more than the extra mile to make it memorable. Club Chairman Hardie Voges and his team supplied breakfast and dinner for everyone on the clubs account.
PilotInsures Franz and Ashely Smit who have been at hand to help with anything and everything the whole season and Secunda was no exception. Franz didn’t only sponsor the Rally as a whole but also decided to sponsor two of the teams taking part.
Johan Rosslee from Lake Umuzi Waterfront for accommodating all our officials for the weekend.
Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS) for supplying ATC's for the event
Pilots Post Online Aviation in South Africa for sponsoring Mary and Phil for all but one of the Rally’s this season, Pilots Post is one of the few media houses that covered each and every Speed Rally in the season.
Excel E&I (Pty) Ltd for sponsoring the eventual Champions of Leon Bouttell and Martin Meyer, I’m sure they will be back in the new season to continue supporting this amazing sport.
The Airplane Factory who came on board to sponsor David Ross and James Braid. David and James truly made The Airplane Factory proud taking one of their products, a Sling 2, all the way to second place in the overall season championship.
Beegle Micro Trackers for sponsoring Johan Whiteman and Quintin Kruger, I can’t wait to see more aircraft making use of your trackers in future not only for the Rally’s but ever time they fly.
Prompt Roofing for sponsoring Leon Joubert and Sandi Goddard, without sponsors like yourselves teams would find it difficult to enter all the Rally’s.
Visionaries like Jonty Esser and Rob Jonkers for taking this idea and turning it into a world class sport. All the people that work tirelessly behind the scenes to make the events run smoothly, Nigel Musgrave who offers up his time and experience to keep everyone safe.
Last but not least the handicapping team of Dirk de Vos and Chester Chandler, who sometimes have to bear the burden of explaining the handicapping system to unhappy pilots.
Well done all and we hope to see you all at the first Rally of the 2019-2020 season in Springs in November.
Speed Rally Championship Standings 2018-2019