Done and dusted

It is done and dusted in more ways than one for Simon Vacy-Lyle who clinched the South African Rally Navigator’s title at the TracN4 National Rally at the weekend – despite difficulties negotiating the thick sand that characterised the event.

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Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle accomplished their mission of finishing in the Top 3 – vital to gain the points Vacy-Lyle needed.. Botterill had already won the drivers’ title for the year – making it six titles in a row – but the Toyota Etios crew had to attain a podium spot in the penultimate event of the year in order to secure the navigators’ title for Vacy-Lyle.

“Things started well for us,” explained Botterill after completing the Gauteng-based event. “We ended Day 1 with a lead, despite struggling through some very thick sand caused by the extremely dry conditions.”

All the crews battled in the sand, which made it very tricky for the front-wheel-drive rally cars to set a good pace. Overheating was a constant threat, as was the possibility of snapping a side-shaft due to excessive wheelspin in the loose sand.

“Unfortunately, we fell foul to exactly that problem early on Day 2,” continued Botterill. “We snapped a side-shaft on the Toyota Etios, and suddenly found ourselves with just one-wheel-drive. We considered abandoning the rally, as getting through the very thick stuff was almost impossible in the circumstances.”

However, with their eyes on the prize for Vacy-Lyle, the pair pushed on. They cleared one stage, and then drove at nothing more than limping pace through another stage, before reaching the service park mid-way through Day 2.

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“Our crew did an amazing job repairing the car. They fitted a new transmission, and also replaced the diff and both side-shafts. With the work done, we were right back on the pace,” says Botterill.

Unfortunately, the pair had lost a bundle of time, and had slipped down to fifth in the standings – too far down the order to secure the championship for Vacy-Lyle.

Then fate intervened.

“Chris Coertse rolled his car in the third-last stage – nothing spectacular, but unfortunately the car came to rest in some extremely dry grass. The hot exhaust set the grass alight, and soon the Mazda was on fire.”

The competitors behind the stricken Mazda stopped to assist, using their fire-extinguishers to try to save the car. One spectator even attempted to push the car out of the burning grass with his own car, but sadly the spectator’s car also caught fire, and both cars had to be abandoned.

“In the end, the organisers had no choice but to stop the event at that point, simply because many competitors had exhausted their fire-extinguishers, and couldn’t race without them for safety reasons,” explained Botterill. “With Chris out, and one other competitor excluded for a technical infringement, we suddenly found ourselves promoted from fifth place to third – just what we needed!”

As a result, the Toyota Etios Crew scored enough points to seal the deal for Vacy-Lyle, with one round in hand. The final event for 2019 is the Ermelo Rally, which is scheduled for the weekend of 25-26 October.

 

Volkswagen claims title

Volkswagen is the 2019 Manufacturers Champion in the GTC2 category of the Global Touring Cars series following the weekend’s Extreme Festival, held at Killarney Raceway – leaving the top-level GTC Manufacturers title still to claim at the final round in a couple of week’s time.

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Round 7 of the GTC series was not the easiest of weekends for the Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa team, made all the more challenging due to unseasonably hot conditions throughout the event. And the on-track action was just as intense as the weather, with Saturday’s crucial qualifying session seeing

Volkswagen’s championship leader Keagan Masters emerge as the fastest of the Jetta drivers in third place, less than nine hundredths of a second off the pole position time of Simon Moss (Audi). Daniel Rowe finished the session in sixth place, a mere 0,293 sec off the leader.

In the first race the Volkswagen Motorsport drivers were involved in an exciting battle for third place with Michael van Rooyen (Toyota), with Rowe claiming the advantage to moved ahead of the group.

With Van Rooyen running into trouble, Masters was then embroiled in a fast-paced tussle with Robert Wolk, but it unfortunately went awry on the final banked turn before the pit straight. A mid-corner clash sent both cars off the track, and although they both got going again, with Masters crossing the line in third place, he was later penalised for the incident and classified sixth.

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Rowe had been perfectly placed to grab a well-deserved podium finish, only for his car to cut out heading onto the pit straight on the second-last lap. He eventually got going again but had to settle for fourth in the final results.

In the reversed-grid second heat, Masters managed a clean race and finished third. Moss crossed the line fourth, but he too was handed a three-place penalty for knocking Johan Fourie (BMW) off the circuit.

Despite the Volkswagen Motorsport crew’s efforts to resolve the issue with Rowe’s car, the technical glitch resurfaced in race two in exactly the same spot on the track. Fortunately, he got the car going again and ended sixth, but was promoted to fifth place due to the penalty handed to Moss.

In the provisional championship standings, the podium finish ensured that Masters retains the lead of the GTC championship going into the title-deciding final round at Red Star Raceway at the end of October. Rowe remains in fourth place, and among the contenders for the prized 2019 title.

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It was an excellent weekend for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Michael van Rooyen, when the Toyota Corolla driver finished third in Race 1, and improved to second in Race 2 – leaving him tied for second in the title fight, just two points adrift.

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As expected, the GTC2 class featured a two-way battle between points leader Bradley Liebenberg and team-mate Adrian Wood in the two Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTi entries. Wood claimed the advantage in qualifying, beating Liebenberg by 0.045 seconds.

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In the first race Wood enjoyed an unchallenged flag-to-flag victory, while  Liebenberg suffered brake issues that resulting in him dropping down to fourth place. The second race saw the finishing order reversed, with Liebenberg taking the win and Wood having to settle for the second step on the podium.

The next round of GTC takes place at Red Star Raceway in Delmas, east of Johannesburg, on 25 and 26 October.

 

Costly mistake for Liebenberg

After steering clear of all the drama around him, it was his own mistake that cost Bradley Liebenberg the chance of claiming three wins from three starts at the penultimate round of the Falken Polo Cup at Killarney, Cape Town at the weekend.

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By using the ‘push to pass’ feature on his car on the opening lap of the third race, he was disqualified from the results – this feature available to drivers only from the second lap.

This year’s Falken Polo Cup may have come down to a two-horse race between Bradley Liebenberg and reigning champion Jeffrey Kruger going into the penultimate round but with 26 Polo GTi entries lining up, this was the largest field for this category in more than five years, and the biggest turn-out yet for the current-generation Polo GTi race car.

Kruger made Friday’s practice all his own, dominating proceedings with the fastest times in all three sessions. However, Liebenberg bounced back on Saturday’s main qualifying session, posting an exceptional time of 1 min 23,863 sec, only for Kruger to snatch the lead in the one-lap Superpole session that determined the starting order for the first race. Liebenberg was second quickest, followed by Matt Shorter, Jurie Swart, Justin Oates and Dario Busi.

Race one saw the two title contenders dash off at the front of the pack, with Kruger holding station initially, but eventually being passed by Liebenberg who took the win by just 0,6 sec. Other than the two leaders switching places, the top six mirrored the Superpole finishing order.

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Race two was full of drama, as it was red-flagged after just four laps when Simon Need rolled his car at the end of the extremely fast back straight. The restart for the second part of the race lasted only two laps until another red flag came out following a collision between Darren Oates and Jason Campos. It was another victory in the shortened race for Liebenberg, just ahead of Kruger, Matt Shorter, Oates, Swart and Chris Shorter.

The 10-lap third race looked set to be more of the same, as Liebenberg notched up a hat-trick of victories, taking him one step closer to the 2019 Falken Polo Cup title. However, his elation was short-lived, because of the ‘push-to-pass’ error.

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He was thus not classified in the results, which handed Kruger the win to complement his pair of second-place finishes for the day, promoting him back into the provisional lead in the championship, ahead of Liebenberg, with one round remaining.

Justin Oates was rewarded with second place in the revised results, ahead of brothers Chris and Matt Shorter, Jurie Swart and Jonathan Mogotsi who rounded off the top six.

The final round of the 2019 Falken Polo Cup takes place at Red Star Raceway in Delmas, east of Johannesburg, on 25 and 26 October.

Suzuki Baleno upgraded

New colours, tweaked interior trim and upholstery are signature changes for the revised Suzuki Baleno hatchback.

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The Baleno was first shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015 and is 3 995 mm long and offers a 2 520 mm wheelbase, which is 70 mm longer than a Suzuki Swift and on a par with some C-segment contenders.

This new model range first landed in South Africa shortly after its Frankfurt debut and introduced Suzuki’s ‘Liquid Flow’ design language to a new generation of vehicles.

In the new model, the signature Liquid Flow line is more accentuated, thanks to a wide and more three-dimensional chrome strip that frames a new grille and S-emblem. The grill itself is more aggressive, and the chrome strip now passes through the front headlights to end at the fender-line.

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The headlights feature a new three-dimensional design, and on the GLX specification, the high-impact discharge (HID) lamps are replaced with LEDs.

Rounding off the new look is a deeply sculpted lower bumper with a hexagonal centre intake. Sharper creases mirror those on the bonnet and add to the more aggressive profile. The GLX models have integrated fog lamps in this lower section.

The Baleno in GLX specification also adds new polished diamond cut alloy wheels and chrome door handles, beltline and on the rear tailgate. There is a spoiler on the rear tailgate and dark privacy glass on the rear doors and tailgate.

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Inside, the two-tone colour treatment on the seat upholstery and door trim is brand new. Suzuki’s interior designers have replaced the centre sections on the front and rear seats with deep blue high-grade cloth and mirrored that on the door panels.

Also new is brushed aluminium detailing across the dashboard, including on the air-conditioning vents, the steering wheel and instrument cluster.

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The GL-model, which is only available with a five-speed manual gearbox, has air-conditioning, power steering, electrically operated windows front and rear, a radio with Bluetooth, MP3 playback, USB socket and CD player and steering-mounted audio controls.

Added to this, Suzuki also offers remote keyless access, front and rear 12V accessory sockets, a height-adjustable driver seat and a luggage area light.

In this model, there are two crash bags in front and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assistance (BAS).

In the GLX owners gain cruise control, fully automatic climate control, keyless entry with a push button start, leather trim on the steering wheel, rear park distance control with camera and a front armrest.

The jewel in the GLX crown is perhaps the new infotainment system. This system integrates the image from the reverse camera, voice commands, all infotainment features and smartphone integration through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay into one  7-inch full colour touch screen.

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The GLX specification also means that the safety features have been bumped up to include front side and side curtain crash bags for a total of six. There are also rear disc brakes at this specification level.

Under the bonnet, is Suzuki’s K14B petrol engine. Fitted with a tumble flow intake manifold, aluminium head and, in this configuration, variable valve timing, the engine delivers 68 kW at 6 000 r/min and 130 Nm at 4 200 r/min.

Both the GL and GLX models are available with a five-speed manual gearbox – with stated fuel consumption of 5,1 l/100 km in a combined cycle – or GLX buyers can opt for a four-speed automatic gearbox.

All models of the upgraded Baleno will be sold with a 4-year / 60 000 km service plan and Suzuki’s promotional warranty of 5-years / 200 000 km.

Logistics slows down

August data from the Ctrack Logistics Barometer indicates pronounced deceleration in global logistics growth (see figure 1), particularly in sea and air freight volumes (see figure 2).

While the growth slowdown was already evident in July’s Ctrack Logistics Barometer, the pace of the slowdown is now more apparent, as can be seen in the barometer’s short-term data.

Figure 1:

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Source: economists.co.za and Ctrack

 Figure 2:

fig2

Source: economists.co.za and Ctrack

Despite this, total freight volumes in South Africa are up 1.1% on a year ago on a three-month (June, July, August) moving average basis. Road freight volumes showed the strongest positive trend rising 3.1%, while sea freight volumes showed the biggest decline of -3.5%.

The global trade war is starting to have an impact on South African trade and the volume of shipped containers is a clear indication of a slowing world economy.

Break bulk volumes at South African ports have declined 35.3% from a year ago on a three-month (June, July, August) moving average basis – the biggest year-on-year decline recorded since 2008. SA container volumes declined 6.2% during the same period.

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Land transport though is still growing due to internal demand, while bulk coal and iron ore exports show positive growth. However, even here the short-term trend is slower than before, with the Ctrack Logistics Barometer suggesting far more mundane economic performance in the 3rd quarter of 2019.

The pipeline sector, which is dominated by fuel transportation, indicates a small decline of -0.4% on a year ago but a much larger -5.1% decline compared to July. The price of fuel has not increased much but users have either delayed buying more in the hope of lower prices, or due to uncertainty in the short-term economic outlook.

With a sudden rise in the oil price, higher fuel prices are likely in October. If fuel volumes still decline in September, the reason will likely be attributed to the uncertain economic outlook.

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The measurements below (Table 1) show freight volume changes – in percentages – over different time periods. The most important of these is the three-month moving average (June, July, August) measured against the same three months of last year.

Table 1:

 

Change from 2018 Rail Road Pipeline Sea Air Storage & handling Logistics
August 2019 vs August 2018 +0.1% +2.2% -5.9% -1.5% -2.0% -6.1% -0.1%
March, April, May 2019 vs March, April, May 2018 +1.0% +3.1% -0.4% -3.5% -0.4% -2.1% +1.1%
Short term changes              
Change from July 2019 to August 2019 +1.1% +0.8% -5.1% -4.1% +0.9% -6.3% -0.7%
March, April, May 2019 vs June, July, August 2019 -1.0% -0.5% -1.4% -8.5% -0.8% +0.9% -1.1%

Source: economists.co.za and Ctrack

The drop in sea freight volumes is confirmed by the CPB World Trade Monitor. Overall, global trade is estimated to have declined by -0,4% for the three-months to June 2019 compared to the same period a year ago.

Although this data is a little earlier than the August Ctrack Logistics Barometer data, one can surmise that declining world trade will weigh on the barometer since logistics by its very nature is a cross-border industry heavily influenced by global trends.

Strangely, in contrast to slowing world trade trends, the latest IATA data shows a substantial increase in international air freight for South Africa.

Nonetheless, the global trade war is impacting world trade and that will likely have a negative impact on both sea and air freight for the next few months or even quarters. Slower growth will also influence the movement of minerals – the main income generator for Transnet Freight Rail.

Furthermore, the drought in the wheat growing regions of the southern Cape will impact road freight. More wheat may have to be imported, making for longer journeys for transporters. This may already be a reason for the positive growth seen in road freight.

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“We are proud to say the Ctrack Logistics Barometer, now in its second month, has been well-received in the marketplace,” says Hein Jordt, managing director of Ctrack SA.

“It appears that road transport continues to gain market share, providing the backbone in the South African logistics industry. However, it remains imperative for transport and logistics companies to manage their delivery fleets closely in lieu of recent oil price increases. Only a holistic fleet management system with daily insights – such as Ctrack’s business intelligence reports and bureau services – can simplify this important task for fleets.”

The Ctrack Logistics Barometer can be viewed online at www.ctrack.co.za

Closing the gap

Winning an award is a fantastic achievement and I heartily congratulate Pertunia Sibanyoni, CEO of InspectaCar on her fourth place in the Positive Role Model, C-Suite category, in the Gender Mainstreaming Awards 2019, but have to comment the existence of the awards is a sad reflection of how far this country has to go in eliminating gender gaps in the workplace.

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The Gender Mainstreaming Awards, now in its seventh year, acknowledges those companies and individuals who have actively worked towards gender diversity at executive and board level. These companies have successfully transformed their boards while ensuring aspiring female directors are judged on their corporate governance skills and experience, and not their gender.

“I am honoured to be placed as a finalist in this prestigious award and would like to thank my family, friends, colleagues and my mentor Tony Frost for always being supportive in my journey. Sharing the stage with phenomenal women such as Dr Judy Dlamini and Prof Shirley Zinn amongst others is truly humbling,” says Sibanyoni.

“This award means so much to me. As women, we are stretched in so many directions. In this demanding environment it is about saying, I have been there, how have I walked, what have I learned being there? It is also about learning from others, both internal and external stakeholders (dealers, industry bodies and colleagues). And importantly, one cannot be pompous and think you know it all. It’s important to have an attitude of learning. You lift as your rise by empowering your team and others and give them the autonomy to showcase their skills,” she adds.

 

Double-header for Gazoo Racing

It is a big double-header in the chase for championship honours this weekend for Toyota Gazoo Racing with Simon Vacy-Lyle within ‘spitting’ distance of capturing the SA National Rally Navigator’s honours and Michael van Rooyen just 11 points adrift in the Global Touring Car Series (GTC).

GTC heads to the penultimate round of the year, at Killarney Raceway in Cape Town this weekend and a good result could see the Rustenburg Rocket challenge for the title.

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“We had a really good outing in East London last month,” says Van Rooyen. “Two second places saw us close in on the championship leaders and we now have a real shot at the title. With that said, we need to score maximum points this weekend in Cape Town.”

As things stand, Volkswagen’s Keagan Masters took the lead in the title chase after the previous round, and now leads Audi’s Simon Moss by six points. Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Van Rooyen finds himself just five points further adrift, and has a six point buffer over Volkswagen’s Daniel Rowe.

“It is really tight at the top of the table, going into these final two rounds,” continues Van Rooyen. “And there are only four more chances to score points this season, so we cannot afford any slip-ups.”

As such the team has made sure that the Toyota Corolla is in the best shape possible, leading up to this weekend.

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“We will definitely be in much better shape this time round than we were at the first outing in Cape Town this year,” concludes Van Rooyen. “And with a bit of luck we’ll be in the fight come the final round at Red Star Raceway at the end of October.”

Guy Botterill may have been crowned as the 2019 South African National Rally Champion for the third year running at the previous round – but his navigator, Simon Vacy-Lyle hasn’t quite crossed the line yet. This is a matter that the pair will aim to rectify at the upcoming penultimate round of the season, the 2019 TracN4 National Rally in Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng.

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Simon Vacy-Lyle

“Simon missed one round, due to the birth of his daughter,” explains Botterill. “So, he is just a few points short of winning the navigators’ title for 2019 – third place or better will be enough to seal the deal.”

With this in mind, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Etios crew will be attacking the penultimate round of the year with the same vigour as every other rally.

“The car had no damage after the previous round, but even so we have made sure it was thoroughly prepped for the upcoming rally. We have also done a little bit of testing so we’re confident that we’re in good shape for the weekend,” continues Botterill.

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The pair has raced in the area around Bronkhorstspruit before, and are familiar with the mielie field layouts that are typical of the terrain. Even so, Botterill is realistic about the upcoming event:

“We would obviously like to wrap up the title for Simon, but at the same time, we do not need to take undue risks at this point. We will just go at our normal pace, and see how the rally develops.”

The 2019 TracN4 National Rally will get under way at 14:00 on Friday, 27 September, with the action starting from the Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum, on the outskirts of Pretoria. Saturday will see more gravel stages, with the rally scheduled to finish at around 15:00.