Last weekend the VW rally, a round of the SA National Rally championship, was held near PE. I was lucky enough to be offered a ride in a Ford Dealer Team supported Fiesta S2000 spec car during a pre-rally test session.
When my colleague and I arrivied at the test venue, a stretch of roughish gravel track, the cars were being prepared. Two cars were running with a 3rd "spare" on hand. The cars are built at M-Sport in the UK and imported at vast expense. The test was also being used as an opportunity to get some promotional photography done, including the use of a flying drone camera so I was lucky enough to get some photos.
"My" driver was Mark Cronje, current SA champion, and eventual winner of the event by a minute and a half after 180km of stages. The field included 11 S2000 cars, two of which were international entries including the current Austrian national championship.
Mark and his navigator Robin Houghton went out in a pickup and pace noted a 3 km section of track, that include some right angle bends and sweeping corners. They then did 3 runs in the rally car, doing some set up tweaks after each one.
Then it was my turn to be strapped into the right hand side navigators seat. I'm not going to try be all "motor journalist" and fully describe the experience but suffice to say the drive was extremely impressive. I would describe my first run as frightening, but on a second run I was able to enjoy it more, once I knew what to expect. The 4 wheel drive grip on the gravel/sand surface gave braking and acceleration that felt to be as good as that of a car on tar, and the huge wheel travel just soaked up deep ruts and floated over the bermed sides of the track without upsetting the horizontal attitude of the car. Of course the whole time the car is going extremely quickly and is always at some angle of yaw to the direction of travel. Mark reckoned he was at about 8/10ths effort running without the pace notes.
These photos are with me in the car. Excuse the unpainted bumper and side skirts, these are fitted just for testing
Here is a bit of video from the test, which includes some footage obtained from the drone.
At about 0.45 in the background you can see my colleague climbing out of the other car after his run.
Another item ticked off my automotive bucket list
Fred W B
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- Make: Ford
- Model: Territory
- Type: ST
- Year: 2008
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Modding Fords since 1985