After an absence of a year the 2013 Race of Champions was held at the Prince Mangosuthu Airport in Ulundi from the 8th to 11th August. This year the Race formed part of the KZN Winter Air Tour with the biggest sponsorship value in the history of South Africa. Entry fees were R2,000 per aircraft and all race fuel was sponsored.
On Race Day 1 we arrived at the airfield with grey skies and low cloud. After the pilots briefing Chris Briers flew the anticipated route of the day and arrived back with the news that it was unsafe for the race to be held. By this time it had also started to rain. The organisers then arranged a Spot Landing Competition with a sponsorship of R20,000 and a Garmin Aera 500 sponsored by Century Avionics for the winner. This attracted 37 aircraft with their crew to participate. The best out of two landings for each aircraft were recorded and the winner of the spot landing was announced as Race number 10 Mary de Klerk and Thys van der Merwe from Durban Wings Club in their Cessna 172A. The day ended with a lovely dinner and a musical performance by Dozi who was flown in all the way from Gauteng.
On Race Day 2 the briefing was again held and the take-off time of the first aircraft was recorded at 11:00.04. The Navigators were given their loggers at the starting line. John Neilon took his position in front of the starting line and with much excitement, he set off the first plane, race 10 ZS-CNZ a Cessna 172A flown by Mary de Klerk from the starting blocks.
I positioned myself down the runway to photograph each of the aircraft as they accelerated for take-off on the set route of 330 nautical miles. Leg one took the competitors from Ulundi to Escourt and then on to Ixopo. Leg 2 routed them from Ixopo to Scottburgh. Leg 3 routed them from Scottburgh to Durban Harbour Mouth to the pier at the Tsogo Sun Casino and over the soccer stadium passing Umhlanga Rocks to Tugela river mouth. Leg 4 routed them from Tugela river mouth back to Ulundi and the finish line.
The first 5 aircraft to land on Race day 2 for the final day of the 47 competing aircraft were:
Position Race Registration Aircraft Pilot
1st 20 ZU-WES Sling 2 Wesley Vorster
2nd 2 ZS-KHM Piper PA-32-300F Willie O'Driscoll
3rd 8 ZS-CBF Mooney M20C Mk21 Waldo Verster
4th 12 ZS-OMJ Piper PA-32-260 Tienie Prinsloo
5th 10 ZS-CNZ Cessna 172A Mary de Klerk
The formal function awards dinner was held in a hangar at the Airport. A message on behalf of the SAPFA Association was delivered by Chris Briers the Race Director. After the buffet dinner it was straight on to the awards ceremony.
The top 10 final overall results were as follows:
1st 2 ZS-KHM Piper PA-32-300F Willie O'Driscoll
2nd 12 ZS-OMJ Piper PA-32-260 Tienie Prinsloo
3rd 20 ZU-WES Sling 2 Wesley Vorster
4th 5 ZS-PBX Mooney M20F Neil Grobbelaar
5th 50 ZS-DYD Mooney M20E Thomas Robbertse
6th 7 ZS-DOL Cirrus SR-22 G3 Darin D'Oliveira
7th 61 ZS-LML Cessna 182T John Lehman
8th 70 ZS-FPI Cessna 182M Guy Leitch
9th 8 ZS-CBF Mooney M20C Mk21 Waldo Verster
10th 1 ZS-MJR Navion Navion H Rudi Marx
The Koos Coetzer Trophy for the aircraft achieving the Fastest Overall Speed went to Race 24 ZS-PBM with crew Tertius Myburgh and Adrian Barry in their Cessna 402C 11
The Chris Briers Trophy - Professionalism for the crew giving the Most Meritorious Performance went to Race 88 ZS-PXK with crew Christiaan Richardson and Christiaan Vosloo in their Cessna FR172G. They had to perform an emergency landing in the final stage of the race as they approached Ulundi Airport. Both pilots were picked up from the incident location by the emergency chopper and after an assessment, were reported in good health with no issues. The aircraft was undamaged and later flown back to the airport by Chris Briers.
The Jack Onderstall Trophy to the first placed Homebuilt Aircraft and crew went to Race 18 ZU-RVI a RV-10 with crew Jan Hanekom and Johan Strydom.
The Beginners Trophy to the first team with Less than 500 hours total time combined went to Race 20 ZU-WES a Sling 2 with crew Wesley Vorster and Ashley Bell.
The Lexus Cup to the first placed Turbocharged Aircraft went to Race 31 ZS-SDW a DA-42 TDI with crew Steve Dewsbery and Donald O'Connor.
The World Airnews Trophy to the first placed Woman Pilot went to Race 10 ZS-CNZ a Cessna 172A with crew Mary de Klerk and Thys van der Merwe from Durban Wings Club.
The Century Avionics Trophy to the Best Handicap Performance on Day Two went to Race 2 ZS-KHM a Piper PA-32-300F with crew Willie O'Driscoll and Donovan Bailey from Durban Wings Club.
The Dries Briers Trophy to the Third Placed aircraft and crew went to Race 20 ZU-WES a Sling 2 with crew Wesley Vorster and Ashley Bell.
The Novas Marine Trophy to the Second Placed aircraft and crew went to Race 12 ZS-OMJ a Piper PA-32-260 with crew Tienie Prinsloo and Nick Prinsloo.
The Champions Trophy to the aircraft and crew Placed First Overall went to Race 2 ZS-KHM a Piper PA-32-300F with crew Willie O'Driscoll and Donovan Bailey from Durban Wings Club.
My appreciation goes to the full organising committee and I look forward to the next Race of Champions. Special congratulations to Chris Briers the Race Director, Brian Emmenis of Capital Sounds and the KZN Winter Air Tour for hosting this event.