SA's 'WRC leg' kicks off in KZN
READY TO COMPETE: Hans Weijs and Bjorn Degandt of BP Volkswagen were the first away in the South African Rally Championship on the Friday morning.
Round five of the South African Rally Championship, a candidate event for the World Rally championship (WRC), got under way from Durban's Moses Mabhida stadium on the morning of Friday, August 17, 2012.
The first team away was the Volkswagen Motorsport works team of Hans Weijs and Bjorn Degandt, with four special stages awaiting them: three on gravel in the Valley of 1000 Hills and a tar super special stage at the old Durban drive-in on Friday afternoon.
Following the WRC format, there was a four-kilometre qualifying stage beforehand for the ten top seeded crews in the championship.
The qualifying stage does not count towards the final results, but did enable the fastest crew to choose its start position.
Weijs and Degandt did not start the qualifying stage due to engine problems and therefore started first on the road.
Charl Wilken and stand in co-driver Etienne Lourens in the Basil Read Ford Fiesta were fastest in qualifying and chose to start 10th.
Special Stage 1, Valley Short, was a nine-kilometre stage and started at midday.
A full field of South Africa’s top rally crews in the S2000 four-wheel drive class and the S1600 two-wheel drive class will compete in the event.
Day two's racing programme consists of five special stages starting from the Moses Mabhida Stadium in the morning, including four gravel stages and the final super special in Durban in the afternoon.
Heavy rain in the last couple of weeks has ensured that conditions will be even tougher than anticipated and the event is likely to prove to be a stern test of all the competitors - as a World Rally Championship candidate event should be.