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Volkswagen Rally Cars

Broadcast dates : 27th November 2005
3rd December 2005

The year 2005 has been a memorable one for motorsports-man and car nut Gugu Zulu. Not only has he joined the Car Torque team and sampled some of the hottest cars in the land, but as a rally driver heís scored some excellent results for the BP Volkswagen rally team.

The final rally of the season was a memorable one for the hard-working VW men from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape.

The Tzaneen Rally, held in hotter-than- Hades northern weather, saw their star driver Jannie Habig take the 2005 SA driverís title in his Volkswagen Polo, with the help of navigator Douglas Judd.

Habigís Polo competes in the new top S2000 four-wheel-drive class.

The S2000 Polo is an extremely complex competition car, built by Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa and developed entirely by the local team.

It has the latest sophisticated navigation equipment, a special quick-release handbrake to enable the driver to lock up the rear wheels to get the tail out, and the car is strengthened by an intricate roll cage, both for safety and to provide much-needed rigidity for rough gravel rally stages.

Itís the top rally car in the country right now, having become quicker and quicker throughout the season to reclaim the coveted title from Toyota.

Gugu drives the teamís CitiGolf in the highly-competitive A5 class, and unlike the four-wheel-drive championship-winning Polo, itís a front-wheel-drive-only car, which makes it quite tricky to handle.

Itís a much more standard car in essence to conform to the rules for A5 cars, and has a 1400 cc modified engine and specially toughened suspension.

It runs a special close-ratio gearbox and limited slip diff, with a lower-than-standard overall ratio to provide better acceleration on dirt roads. And it has absolutely no sound-deadening whatsoever!
A typical National Championship rally is held over two days, and that cement-mixer environment must drive Gugu, and his navigator Llewelyn Fourie, absolutely crazy!

A major part of a rally is driving at the speed limit on public roads that link the various special stages, which make up the speed aspect of the event.

After clinching the rally championship, the BP Volkswagen team organized a corporate day at a special stage just outside Randburg. And Gugu and the rest of VW team drivers were on duty to give special guests a taste of rallying at the top level.

Itís a great way for the drivers to relax after a grueling season. And itís also an opportunity for the team to say thank you to their sponsors and associates.

The costs and logistics of a national championship season are enormous, and there are so many unsung heroes behind the scene that make this great motorsport spectacle possible.

For the passengers on the day, itís an experience theyíll never forget.

Guguís not fooling us for a moment. But when he climbs behind the wheel of his rally car, the adrenalinís already pumping, and this helps maintain the immense concentration levels needed to drive a rally car in anger.

Itís ironic that a lower-level two-wheel-drive car like the Golf is probably more difficult to drive than an S2000 machine. Less power and grip means that everythingís always on a knife-edge.

Rallying is all about anticipation, setting the car up for a direction change before the obstacle actually arrives.

A good rally driver floats his car over the dirt roads, and thereís no time to relax in a special stage.

The top class Polos of Jan Habig and team-mate Enzo Kuun are capable of over a 180 km/h on dirt, and that feels like 380 on tarmac.

The sheer traction and ability to absorb punishment of these two-litre machines is amazing.

Jan Habig and Enzo Kuun in the second Polo fought a monumental battle for the 2005 championship, with Kuun finally losing out when a suspension member broke.

The teamís Class A7 driver Hergen Fekken rounded off the season with a class victory in Tzaneen, while Gugu fought back from earlier mishaps to come second in Class A5 after an impressive drive.
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