Event date: 12 October 2013 | Photos & story: RaceMasteR J | Location: Killarney Race Track, Cape Town.


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So a few articles back I posted a story on “Preparing for the All Tar Rally” with team 426, Dexter Bruce and Ernest Page. It was the process of getting their car sorted for the grueling All Tar Rally. With that done and dusted the day finally arrived and I was to follow the team’s progress throughout the day to give you, the reader, an inside view of what’s it like to actually participate in one of these events.

The weather was off and on from the word go with mother nature spurting down rain in the morning followed by clear skies and sunshine in the afternoon only followed by some more rain later on. Not great conditions for myself taking pics as I had to constantly change settings as the clouds passed by. But even less ideal for the numerous teams taking part.

It was sort of a trend to have body panels missing or even smashed cars. I don’t think there could have been a more fitting title sponsor for this event, Fix-a-smash. But this being rally as long as the car moved an inch forward it was race worthy. So much different to the norm of circuit racing where cars would be red flagged immediately for missing panels.

Some cars even ran with out tyres! Soldier on!

Every team would have to complete 6 stages of the event and ensuring that the car lasted the entire day was key. Ask anyone who’s taken part in this rally before and they will all tell you it’s a car breaker! Not so much from the engines side but more from the drive train.

Faizal Jacobs was enjoying himself as usual with his "balls to the wall" approach... which saw him actually hitting a wall in the final stage. He managed to finish 4th overall, well done!!!

The stages are split up over most of the track space, pit lanes, service roads and even parking areas are used to race through. Those areas are not always smooth as the circuit and constantly throws potholes bumps and ditches at the driver. The suspension really takes a pounding.

It's all about the paper work. Navigators have to keep track of time and always make sure they are up to date with their notes. Narrow roads sprinkled with red tape, fences, drums, walls and poles was the order of the day and getting your bearings is vital. Ernest being the navigator had his job cut out for him. One wrong signal and its game over.

Dexter being the driver started off gradually but got the hang of it soon enough. Once again, getting your bearings is difficult at first, but he quickly saw himself finding his groove and put the car into a sweet spot with the course.

Pulling up to the starting line of the second stage and about to pull away the team saw failure. Mechanical failure. Engage first gear, release the clutch, bang.

The marshals pushed the car to the side in order not to hold up the queue. A quick on site inspection seemed to point at the gear box. Bummer! This doesn’t look good at all and could see an early retirement.

The best thing to do was to get the car back to parc ferme and have it properly looked at.

There’s good and bad news. Good news is that it’s not the gear box. Bad news is that it’s a CV joint. But in this part of the world that’s not such a bad thing as Mk 1’s are a dime a dozen and lo and behold someone just came up and offered their CV joint to Dexter. How cool is that?!

There’s not much time left. Stage 2 is going to be finished soon and the car needs to be ready in time for stage 3. Everyone jumps in to lend a hand and in no time the new CV is fitted. After a quick check everything is back on track.

Get in line and wait your turn. Dexter and Ernest have to get their mind back in the game now. Car breakages are stressful and distracting. There’s always a lingering thought of it happening again. But as a driver you have to file thoughts like those to the back of your head in order to get the job done.

Back in the game. The newly built 2.0L 8V is screaming with joy. The first few laps go great. But unfortunately it was short lived. Going through the old pit area the little Mk1 got some air and landed a bit harder than expected. The drive shafts couldn’t take it and caused the car’s handling to go out of whack. But that wasn’t the main issue.

The newly built engine was running on synthetic oil that proved to be too thin which in turn caused the oil pressure to drop. So low that it was on the verge of blowing the motor. Dexter could not risk that and decided to call it a day.

With only one and a half out of six stages done, it’s a sad way to end a day. There’s nothing I could of said to Dexter to make him feel better. But hey, that’s motorsport for you. As I said before, a hard lesson to learn, but a lesson well learnt.

It only lights the flame to come back harder and stronger for next year’s rally where we hope to see team 426 make it through the entire event.

Ride shotgun and see what's it like to race the All Tar Rally, check out the video below.

Check out the gallery below for the rest of the pics...

RaceMasteR J


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