By Cally Eckard

The rally championships were hotly contested this year, with the prize being a place in the South African team to represent the country in the World Rally Championships in Portugal in September. 

Six teams of two competed in Brits in April, in three world-class competitions.  The routes were set by three of the teams, being Frank and Cally Eckard on Friday, Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer on Saturday, and Jonty Esser and Sandi Goddard on Sunday.  This meant an unfair advantage for the teams who did not organise routes, so the results had to be manipulated in order to obtain a fair score. 

Jaco Schoen and Werner Nel, dubbed “The Bravest Pilots in SA”, took part in the Friday and Sunday competitions, having very little prior experience.  However, they gained hugely in knowledge and skills, and improved immensely from the first day to the third.  Past team members gave them a lot of tips, which they absorbed hungrily, and are very keen to continue in this sport. 

Friday’s rally required the contestants to fly some arcs and to follow some features, as is done in world rallies. International Judge Jacques Jacobs set out some ground markers to add some challenges for the observation test, and to give the teams some practise in these tasks.  Saturday’s rally was a challenge for the navigators, having to plot a very complex route.  Sunday’s route was more straightforward, allowing the pilots to pay more attention to their timing over the turnpoints, and observing photographs along the track.  On all three days the landing was marked, which is very difficult after a long and arduous flight which requires maximum concentration throughout. 

Deon van den Berg  once again shared his expertise as Chief Judge. Walter Walle made the trip from Bloemfontein to be in attendance as Selector as well as Chris Linakis.  Long-serving marshall Tyrone Henderson  and his son Dean helped at the landing line, as well as Ursula Schwebel who handed out and received answer sheets.  Johan and Marinda from Brits Flying Club provided excellent meals, including delicious eisbein with potato salad and sauerkraut on Saturday night.

The combined results of the three days were as follows:

Position

Pilot

Navigator

Aircraft type

Registration

Total

First

Adrian Pilling

Mary de Klerk

Cessna 172

ZS-OUZ

772

Second

Hans Schwebel

Ron Stirk

Cessna 150

ZS-IWD

1137

Third

Jonty Esser

Sandi Goddard

Cessna 172

ZS-MPF

1212

Fourth

Frank Eckard

Cally Eckard

Cessna 172

ZS-MPF

1515

Fifth

Rob Jonkers

Martin Meyer

Cessna 172

ZS-KEZ

1568

Sixth

Jaco Schoen

Werner Nel

Cessna 182

ZS-DBP

 

 

Selectors Chris Linakis and Walter Walle were on hand to select the team to represent South Africa in September in Portugal.  They are:

Team members:

Adrian Pilling and Mary de Klerk (Manageress)

Hans Schwebel and Ron Stirk

Frank Eckard and Cally Eckard

Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer

International Judges:

Jacques Jacobs

Arddyn Moolman

Judge Observors:

Ursula Schwebel

Reserve Chief Judge and Jurer

Deon van den Berg

Supporters:

Vera Jonkers

Alex Meyer