The 30th running of the annual Volkswagen Rally takes place on Friday and Saturday, 13 and 14 July, in Port Elizabeth and surroundings. This popular event on the South African national rally calendar will see the cream of South Africa’s rally fraternity in action on a combination of tar and gravel stages.
Competitors in the 2012 Volkswagen Rally will make the traditional Auto Pavilion start outside of the main gate of the Volkswagen plant in Uitenhage where the public will enjoy free entry to the museum for the day. This is also a good time for rally fans to meet their favourite rally competitors and take the opportunity to collect autographs and take a few photos with their motorsport heroes.
“The Volkswagen Rally is one of the best rallies on the national calendar,” says Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “It is well organised and run by the Algoa Rally Association and route organiser Joe Fourie celebrates his 21st Volkswagen Rally with us this year. There is a dedicated team of enthusiasts who ensure the event is as good as it could possibly be and this shows in the organisation.”
Volkswagen has sponsored the Volkswagen Rally since 1982, an event that has a large following amongst rally fans who turn out in high numbers to watch their rally favourites in action.
When the flag drops for the start of the Volkswagen Rally competitors will find themselves contesting stages in Gamtoos, the Longmore Forest, Uitenhage, Port Elizabeth Oval Track Raceway (PEOTR) in Greenbushes and will also contest the very popular Kings Beach spectator stage which is the traditional grand finale.
“This year promises to be a very good event,” says route organiser Joe Fourie. “Good rains in the area have significantly reduced the fire risk in the Longmore Forest, the roads are in good condition and there are even a couple of new stages as well. We’re all anticipating the 30th running of the Volkswagen Rally is going to be one of the best we’ve had.”
Competitors in the Volkswagen Rally will face one of the two new stages right at the start of the event when they head to Melon in the Gamtoos area. Here Fourie has indicated the field will face a challenging, but extremely good first stage.
“That first stage hasn’t been used for many years,” says Fourie. “It is a good distance, at 10.5 km long, but the competitors will find themselves in competition on a stage that would do a round of the WRC (World Rally Championship) proud. It’ll really wake them up and get the rally off to a good start.”
Five stages await the Volkswagen Rally competitors on Friday with a further seven scheduled for Saturday – of which three will be duplicated from day one of the rally.
The focus for the event is on providing a challenging rally for competitors while retaining the high level of spectator-friendliness for which the Volkswagen Rally is known.
“Accessibility is a big issue on a rally,” says Fourie. “Getting rally fans to good viewing points while not interfering with the rally itself is a challenge. The popularity of the Volkswagen Rally amongst spectators is legendary and we do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for them to be a part of the action.”
– Credit: Volkswagen of South Africa.