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.
All participants plus some supporters
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.
Werner Nel and Jaco Schoen with Monty Esser
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:
First: Adrian Pilling and Mary de Klerk flying a Cessna 172 finished with 772 points
Second: Hans Schwebel and Ron Stirk in a Cessna 150 with 1137 points
Third: Jonty Esser and Sandi Goddard in a Cessna 172 with 1212
Fourth: Frank and Cally Eckard in a Cessna 172 with 1515 points
Fifth: Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer flying a Cessna 172 with 1568 points
Selectors Chris Linakis and Walter Walle were on hand to select the team to represent South Africa in September in Portugal. They are:
Adrian Pilling and Mary de Klerk (Manageress)
Hans Schwebel and Ron Stirk
Frank Eckard and Cally Eckard
Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer
Reserve Chief Judge and Jurer:
Deon van den Berg