The fourth instalment of the very exciting speed Rally Grand Prix took place above the Springs Airfield at the Springs Speed Rally on 29 November 2020. The Grand Prix concept was hatched by Jonty Esser and his dedicated team as a means of improving the spectator value at the Speed Rallies, and this one definitely didn’t disappoint.
The Grand Prix was designed to fast, close and extremely entertaining, competitors fly a figure of eight course laid out in the immediate vicinity of the airfield, in fact, the spectators never lose sight of the aircraft throughout the race. The Crossover for this Grand Prix was right over the centre of the runway, the aircraft crossing the runway had to be above 700ft AGL and the aircraft running down the runway were below 500ft ensuring that a safe separation was maintained at all times.
Once the Speed Rally contestants had landed safely the Grand Prix contestants congregated in the briefing hangar where the starting procedures, race rules and landing procedures were outlined. Once the briefing was done and dusted it was time for the competitors to make their way to their aircraft and get the final prep done.
Six aircraft entered the GP, all the aircraft were relativity closely matched speed wise and were released with a 10-second gap between them. the first aircraft to get airborne was Jonty Esser in his Zlin 50 followed by Johan van Eeden and Cor Esterhuizen in an RV7A, right on their heels was an RV7 crewed by Simon Abbott and Rhett Shillaw, Dain Lang in his RV4 was next to go, chasing him was Leon du Plessis and Sandi Goddard the super fast Lancair ES and last but not least Eugene van Staden and Manaf Mubarak in the Piper Seneca twin.
The race quickly developed into some interesting “ding dong” battles the closet of which was between Dane and Johan who fought a good fight all the way to the finish line. The battles were so close that on some laps the aircraft were flying flat out two abreast down the runway, making great use of the smooth ground effect air.
Dain Lang managed to Just hold Lancair at bay for the full three laps while he passed all the aircraft in front of him to take the win. Leon came in second and Johan had to settle for third place. The GP format really got the adrenaline pumping for the spectators as well as the competitors and definitely adds value to the Speed Rally followers day.