Special-stage rallying was last seen in the Garden Route in the 1990’s when the Volkswagen Rally took place between George and Port Elizabeth. The 2011 Garden Route Rally is organised by the Algoa Motorsport Club, the Bloemfontein Sports Car Club and the Motor Sport South Africa Rally Commission, and forms round six of the eight event SA Rally Championships. The rally circuit between George and Knysna will once again bring the sounds of high performance engines to the back roads of the area.
Minor changes to the original rally circuit have been made as a result of the recent heavy rains. Joe Fourie, route director, describes the course as “.... a tight and technical route with eight gravel special stages and two tar stages.” Joe says also that competitors will have both their driving and navigational skills tested.
The Garden Route Mall, just outside George, is the starting point for the rally on Friday, 26th August at 12h00.Spectators will have the opportunity of meeting with the competitors as they prepare for the start. The first 5km special stage starts some 400m from the Garden Route Mall, followed by three gravel stages through the forests in the Outeniqua Mountains surrounding George and Knysna, taking in some of the most spectacular scenery the Garden Route has to offer. These gravel stages will consist mostly of little used, overgrown ‘twin track’ roads. Day one ends with a short tar stage in the beautiful coastal town of Knysna. The impressive Simola Estate, with its breathtaking views over the Knysna Lagoon and The Heads, will be the overnight stop and parc ferme. The route on day one totals some 70km. Day two kicks off at 08h00 from Simola with a new stage to the adjacent property followed by a repeat of Friday’s three special forest stages, a new fourth gravel stage plus a final tar stage to the finish at Simola – distance covered being 100km.
Competitors include all the leading teams in both the overall and junior rally championships. This year has seen fierce competition and very tight finishes and the Garden Route Rally promises more of the same, particularly as few teams would have previously driven the various stages. Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton, in second place overall on the South African Rally Championship points log, are confident of their chances of hauling in log leader Conrad Rautenbach.
After hosting the hugely successful Knysna Speed Festival, including the Renault Knysna Hillclimb, earlier this year, Knysna will once again attract many motor sport enthusiasts for this testing rally. Why not base yourself at Bamboo, the Guest House, Accommodation Knysna for the rally and explore the beauty of Knysna and the Garden Route thereafter?
Visit Rally World for further details.