IT'S been a long time since I have looked forward to a rally this much. Looking at our DVD notes, the roads for the VW Rally were in a magnificent condition, all respect to Joe Fourie and his organising team. I have never seen such beautiful forest roads in my career thus far. Unfortunately nature had to have its say as heavy rain was predicted with flood warnings.
All of a sudden our whole outlook changed to just getting to the end without damaging the car, instead of a full force attack. And yes, it did come down in buckets, making the roads slippery and treacherous. Joe Fourie made some difficult decisions in canceling some stages, which I think was the right thing to do.
For two days we battled the conditions and all credit must go to my teammate in the other Basil Read Ford for a brilliant second overall. Personally I was simply too cautious and to make matters worse these S2000 machines don't like to be driven cautiously, which simply compounded the situation. Nonetheless we made it to the finish, but in a very disappointing 10th place overall.
It again was clear to see that rallying is one of the most exciting and enjoyable forms of sport around. VW spent a lot of money in preparing the stages so we as competitors could give an awesome show to all the local spectators, unfortunately spoiled somewhat by the weather.
Better quality roads make for even closer and exciting rallying and that's a fact.
So what is rallying lacking to take it right up to the level of cricket and rugby in South Africa? It's simple, money. Yes, we have a rugby-and cricket-mad country, but let's face it, lots of money is pumped into these sports to keep them running. Unfortunately rallying in SA has to make do without an overall sponsor at present and it is holding the sport back.
Enough money could just take rallying in SA to the next level. So what does an overall sponsor get for their money? Well, to start off probably the best National Rally Championship in the world with up to 20 World Class S2000 cars competing on each event, with a combined value of more than R40m. There are eight national events throughout the country with TV coverage in place on Supersport and Ignition TV.
Excitement and drama is a part of every rally and adds to the whole spectacle. It's a sport where spectators can feel the action as it is more often than not very up close and personal.
As an overall sponsor, you would receive naming rights of the championship and even be involved in some decision making regarding marketing etc. Every vehicle in the championship will be carrying your branding, thus exposure is guaranteed no matter what the outcome. Rallying is not on the same level as rugby or cricket as yet, so we are talking about far less money to get involved and to ensure a good return on investment as far as exposure goes.
So, if you want to venture into a sport that's extreme and exciting with loads of potential, now is the time to get involved. You would join some top brands like Basil Read, Konica Minolta, Castrol, BP, Sasol, Total, Toyota, Volkswagen and Ford.
The next event on the calendar is the Rally of South Africa on 17-18 August in KwaZulu-Natal.
. If you are interested in sponsorships, contact Flip Wilken at 082 457 5995 for more details.