The infamous Cat Tara Rally

The tough annual Tara Rally took place on 17/18 November with 17 special stages run in and around Windhoek for the 49th year. Next year the Tara is going to be a big event as it reaches its 50th year since its first event. The Tara Rally is the longest-running international sporting event in Namibia with the first Rally in 1969.
Allan Martin and Derek Jacobs took part in this year’s rally in their VW Polo S2000 and got off to a cautious start as it was the first time that this driver and navigator combination had competed together and considering that whilst this year’s Tara Rally was much shorter than in the past with 126 kilometres of special stage, it was by no means the easiest and lived up to its reputation of being tough and demanding.
The rally got underway for the 15 entries with two short special stages of under 6 kilometres each at Rocky Crest and Prosperita before returning to the Tony Rust race track for 4 more spectator friendly stages including the ever-popular super specials where cars go head to head. Two of these stages were run in the dark adding to the spectacle with the rally car kitted out with their powerful spotlights.
Stage 1 and 2 was fast and the surface was very pebbly and loose. Allan Martin and Derek Jacobs battled to keep up with the newer generation S2000 rally cars of Wilro Dippenaar and Riaan van der Westhuizen and Jaco Redlinghuys and Dries Booysen. Added to the mix at the front was Richard Slamet and Wiets Coetzee who had purchased the super-fast ex-Star Body Works Subaru STi and were making their intentions known.
At the end of day one the order was Wilro Dippenaar and Riaan van der Westhuizen, Jaco Redlinghuys and Dries Booysen, Richard Slamet and Wiets Coetzee and Allan Martin/ Derek Jacobs in fourth. The first four positions were covered by less than a minute showing just how tough the pace was going to be on day two.
Day two got off to a tough start with the new Harmony stage which had a number of rocks and narrow twisty sections. At the end of the 10-kilometre stage the order was the same but Richard Slamet hit trouble with a power steering problem and has to withdraw at the next stage when the leaking power steering fluid set the Subaru on fire. The fire was extinguished without serious damage, but it put an end to his rally.
This allowed Allan Martin to move up into third and allowed Oswaldo Mendes and Kes Naidoo in their Subaru Impreza to move up to 4th. Allan Martin not only had to try and catch the leaders but now had to watch his back as Oswaldo Mendes had one of the fastest cars in the rally and what made matters worse was that there were 4 extremely fast stages still to come. Over the next 5 stages Allan Martin/ Derek Jacobs had their work cut out and at times were driving as fast as their equipment allowed them to and managed to stay in touch with the leaders in case one of them hit trouble. Allan martin also managed to keep Oswaldo at bay despite him setting blistering times on the 4 flat out stages and closing a gap of 1 minute to a mere 21 seconds.
With the rally now past the midway point and the 2 technical and demanding Aris stages still to come, everyone decided to hold stations and preserve their cars in order to get to the end as the infamous Cat Tara, after which the rally is named, is known to stick her claws out near the end.
All Allan and Derek now had to do was to remain on the podium in 3rd as the two cars ahead were in a league of their own as their technology was newer and more superior.
The rally ended with the last stage back at the Tony Rust race track. Tony Rust was a welcome sight for the 12 finishers after two days of hard rallying and everyone commented that the rally lived up to its tradition of being fast and tough.
Jan Everson and Fanie Botes with their Seal Consulting Engineers VW Polo 1600i were first in the S2-class and 8th overall. Jan Everson said “It was a tough rally and hard on the car. We were still doing adjustments to the suspension between the stages during service parks. Our aim was to complete the rally because of the bad luck we had the past two years. A podium finish would have been bonus. We’ve managed to do both by winning the S2 class. Thank you to all the support that we’ve got from my service team as well as my friend’s crew, they are the best. Thank you to the organizers of the event; it was really a good event and a special thanks to my sponsor Seal Consulting Engineers who makes it possible for me to partake in the events”.
The chairperson of the organising committee, Anja Lingner, said “I am satisfied with the outcome of this year’s competition, we are already planning for the 50th competition next year and we had a successful event this year, there were no negative vibes. The officials worked hand in hand, the team did a magnificent job, and I am sure the riders also enjoyed the race”.
The sponsors for the 2017 Tara Rally was Windhoek Motor-club, Safari Engineering & Terrain Tamer, Gunite Pools, Sky-Way Investments, Atlas Copco, Chubb, Sat-Com, M + Z Motors, Super Tyres, Sign Factory, Kosmos 94.1, IS-Freight Services and City Clutch & Brake.
The overall winners:
1. Wilro Dippenaar and Riaan van der Westhuizen
2. Jaco Redlinhuys and Dries Booysen
3. Allan Martin and Derek Jacobs
S4 -class
1. Willem Hugo and Mandi Hugo
2. Oswaldo Mendes and Kes Naidoo
3. Marco Luis and De Wet du Plessis
S3 – class
1. Wilro Dippenaar and Riaan van der Westhuizen
2. Jaco Redelinghuys and Dries Booysen
3. Allan Martin and Derek Jacobs
S2- class
1. Jan Everson and Fanie Botes,
2. Gert Coetzee and Hugo Arangies,
3. Tinus Malan and Paul van Niekerk

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