The popularity of the Speed Rally concept has grown exponentially since it was introduced at Secunda in 2018, it was a given that the competition would continue into its second season which kicked off at Springs Airfield on Saturday 23 November. As soon as it was decided that there would be a second season Frans Smit for PilotInsure came aboard once again to sponsor the event.
The SAPFA organising team had been meeting in the short off-season analysing the whole concept and discussing what could be done to make the coming season more interesting and competitive and they decided on a few changes in the format. One of the major changes was to extend the overall distance from 125 nm to 150 nm, to make the legs a little longer to accommodate the faster aircraft, most of the other changes facilitating the crew with better cockpit paperwork. A GPS category was added, which would allow novices to be introduced to the event without the stress of knowing or not knowing where to go, with the intent to get themselves upgraded to Championship status after having gained sufficient experience.
As all the competitors will attest, the handicapping system used for the speed rallies is probably the fairest and most accurate that has ever been used in any form of air race in South Africa, so no changes were made there. The system had even proven to be acceptable at the Presidents Trophy Air Race without any complaints.
On Friday morning the competitors started arriving ready for a weekend full of Racing and Fun. Friday saw all the flight test for the newbies being done so their handicaps could be calculated and starting positions finalised. Once the flight tests were done Marc Robinson with his team from Century Avionics went to work covering up all on-board GPS devices for those taking part in the Championship league. The EAA came in to help with test flights, Sean Cronin & Karl Jensen supporting SAPFA’s test flight designate Mark Clulow, and got through all the test. Mary de Klerk as always shared her vast knowledge with the newbies with some dedicated navigation training.
After a busy day Springs was engulfed in a beautiful sunset promising good weather for the next day, all the earlier forecast for heavy storms had disappeared and everyone made their way to Mach 1 Aviation Academy briefing hangar for the “Briefing on Steroids”. At the briefing Rob Jonkers gave a quick rundown of what the teams could expect the following day.
Then it was time for the introduction and issuing of race numbers of all the teams, the roof almost lifted every time one of the host teams were called to the stage, Mach 1 Aviation Academy have been involved in almost every Speed Rally that has been held, they definitely see the benefit of students and instructors taking part in this type of event. Mach 1 provides necessary facilities for ab-initio courses which addresses all future pilots needs that wish to obtain their PPL’s or CPL’s ) with the Multi-engine Piston and Instrument ratings, they will also see you through to your ATPL.
Saturday morning dawned with perfect flying conditions, a clear day with virtually no wind, with the briefing starting a little earlier at 7.30 am as the intent was to finish the rally at 11.30 to be able to fit in the Grand Prix in the early afternoon. Rob Jonkers once again briefed the teams for the benefit of all that couldn’t make it the previous evening. Rob explained the landing procedure, this was vitally important as all the forty entrants could cross the finish line very close together.
Once the briefing was done and dusted it was time to get to the aircraft for scrutineering, Scrutineers Chareen, Lizelle, Karen, Conrad, Johan and Alex were very busy sealing up all portable GPS capable devices and making sure that all fuel tanks were brimmed and ready to go. After a sometimes nervous wait it was time for the teams to receive their papers and make their way to the start line where Chief Marshal Jacques Jacobs and Mark Clulow were ready to send them on their way at the allotted time.
The first take-off was at 09h40 for the slowest aircraft and last take-off an hour later at 10h40, with planned arrival at 11h30. This was the first time two helicopters also took part, one an Alouette 2 and the other a Robinson R66, the Alouette 2 being the slowest and was the first to depart.
With all the competitors off towards the east, the route had a mix of easy and challenging turn points. In general, the competitors found the course a little more difficult than the last one, especially around turn point 4, where is seems the rail and road crossing was difficult to spot, attesting to the increased difficulty that there were only thirteen clear round aircraft, out of the forty entrants. Just before 11h30 the first aircraft over the line was a Cessna 172 ZS-OET, follow by a Sling 4 ZU-IOK, and closely after that the R66 ZS-HRS, and from there within the next 2 minutes or so 20 aircraft with stragglers coming up the rear. The landing sequence was fairly easy to do with everybody joining crosswind, then downwind onto 03 with good spacing.
After all teams having returned and safe on the ground, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results, with the tracks for a number being quite accurate, although some had wobbles, but a few got a bit lost, the Alouette 2 flying at full speed being very thirsty in fuel consumption decided to carry out a precautionary landing in Nigel to refuel before resuming the course.
The results were completed by around 14h30, and prize giving was schedule for 15h30, and first up on the prize giving programme was to show some of the interesting tracks, some excellent and some not so good getting the audience in fits of laughter.
Jonty first handed over the GPS league competitor trophies, and then the host club trophy went to the Mach 1 Flight Training School owner Lee Petersen, and then the placings for the best handicap speed and thereafter the most accurate / shortest route flown. Winners of the GPS league were the team of Ray Wilford and Bernard Jansen in a Sabre ZU-DIY.
Ray Wilford and Bernard Jansen
The most accurate / shortest route flown winners were the team of David Ross and James Braid in a Sling 2 ZU-JAR, in second place was Hendrik and Jandre Loots in their Sling ZU-IHK, and in third place was Quinten Kruger and Johan Whiteman in their PA28-235 ZS-FVV.
David Ross and James Braid
Hendrik and Jandre Loots
Quinten Kruger and Johan Whiteman
The overall winners in the best handicap speed were the team of Munaf Sayyed and Ricardo Baruffa in a C172 ZS-OET, in second place was Joshua and Mark Dethian in their PA28-180 ZS-ELL, and in third place Apie and Frederick Kotzee in their R66 ZS-HRS.
Munaf Sayyed and Ricardo Baruffa
Joshua and Mark Dethian
Apie and Frederick Kotzee
Many thanks to the Mach 1 Aviation Academy for hosting this fantastic event, the SAPFA team of Jacques Jacobs with the ground marshals, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Dirk and Louna de Vos and Mark Clulow doing the scoring, Chester Chandler assisting with the handicapping on Friday, David le Roux from PilotInsure at the registration desk, Marc Robinson with his team from Century Avionics for Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw, Lizelle Kruger handing out competition papers to the crews as well as Scrutineering with their team, Jonty & Lizelle & Sandy for putting together an awesome Friday evening launch event.
Team Mach 1 Aviation Academy
Thanks also extended to Santjie White of the ARCC who always watches over us, and the ATNS team for managing the ATC for the weekend.
Sponsored teams have become more prevalent this season with a total of six teams being sponsored for this Rally, if anyone is interested in sponsoring a team please contact Jonty Esser and he will happily guide you through the process.
Excel E&I - Leon Bouttell and Martin Meyer
The Airplane Factory - David Ross and James Braid
Pilots Post – Nigel Hopkins and Mary De Klerk