With one race to go in the four-race series for 2023 it, judging by the number of entries received, was going to be a closely contested affair.
A bumper field of twenty-three entries were received although not all were legible for the title of champion as the rules states that to be in contention teams must have competed in at least three races.
Three team, all newcomers who had entered the PTAR and then the next two rallies, had to withdraw as the flying school aircraft they were going to partake in was not available. It was a pity as they showed great determination and was quite obviously hooked on the sport.
The top ten in the running for the coveted title was….
I was fortunate to again having been offered a lift by Roger Bozzoli who was flying in his extremely fast Piper Arrow III Turbo with Navigator Mark de Jongh. Mark, who is in the hour building phase of his dream to soon to be a professional pilot celebrated his one hundredth flying hour on the way from Rand to Groblersdal. Watch out for this youngster! He literally lives, eat and dream flying!
Fifty-two minutes after having taken off from Rand we landed at Groblersdal where we were shown to our parking spot. We walked to the club house where a large marquee was erected and found that the event was extremely well supported by the locals.
The briefing attended by all competitors was led by Pilot's Insure's David and Iaan Myburgh. Rules, safety procedures and all issues pertaining to the safe running of the race was explained.
After all the formalities were completed race numbers were issued and at 10.30 Tarryn Myburgh with dad, Derek Orford as navigator took off in Tarryn's Jabiru SP470.
It was especially nice to see Jonty Esser partaking. The Speed Rally series was Jonty's brain child. He acted as navigator for Leon Joubert in Leon's rocket ship Lancair 4ESX. Another regular who has been absent because of work commitments was Sandy Goddard who flew with Phil Wakely in his Cessna 210.
Another VIP, Uhambo, the Lion Cub Mascot of the Aero Club of SA also grazed the rally with his presence. Uhambo has just returned from having been at Macon in Spain for the World Rally Championship from where he made his way to the Grand Est Mondial Air Ballon Fiesta 2023 that took place at the Chambley-Bussicres Airbase in France where he made his first international balloon flight.
The Winners Johan Whiteman & Quintin Kruger
Second place Hendrik & Adele Loots....Third Place Fanie Scholtz & Herman Haasbroek
Approximately an hour and a half later the first of the contestants started arriving back at the field. It was then time to relax and wait for the final results which were released during a gala dinner held opposite the airfield.
Congratulations to the winners and a huge thank you to all that have supported the Speed Rally Series and who have made it a huge success. There can be no doubt that Speed Rallies are now firmly established and that the formula works. Proof is that the majority of team SA at the Worlds had entered the sport through Speed Rallies.