Brian Joss –
Henk Lategan and Barry White finished the 2015 national rally season the same way they started it – on the podium. The pair rallied to second place overall at the Polokwane Motor Rally 2015 on Saturday, which ended at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
“Our aim was to win the rally,” said Lategan. “We tried a few things to ensure we had the right road position for Saturday. It cost us some time and didn’t quite work out the way we wanted. It looked good for the win, but we had trouble with our fourth gear in the last two stages. I tried to drive around the problem as far as possible, but we just lost too much time. It was a good rally and we are on the podium to finish the season.”
Lategan and White took third place at the Tour Natal in March this year – the first round of the national rally championship – and have campaigned hard all season, putting in fast stage times, searching for another finish amongst the top three. That result eluded them right up until the final moment when they improved on their first podium finish to cross the line for second at the final round.
“Henk and Barry have been on pace this season,” said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “They’ve come close many times and it is a great result for them to finish on the podium here in Polokwane.”
For Gugu Zulu and Hilton Auffray, the final round of the season proved a cruel mistress. The pair were on track for a third place finish overall in the championship. On day two the duo were unable to finish when they suffered suspension problems. Their teammates Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries suffered a similar fate on the second day of the event, leaving them to cheer Lategan and White to the finish.
The close of the 2015 national rally season also marked the end of an era for Volkswagen Motorsport. The Polokwane Motor Rally was the last outing for the Volkswagen Works team with a change of focus for Volkswagen Motorsport from 2016.
“Volkswagen Motorsport will, in future, focus on supporting privateer teams and the National Rally Commission as a technical partner,” said Rowe. “Volkswagen will also sponsor the 2016 Volkswagen Rally and support for circuit racing will continue – including an entry in the new GTC formula mooted for 2016.”
“The Volkswagen Motorsport team, the drivers, navigators and all our sponsors, especially Esteq, have earned our thanks for their support, dedication and hard work over the years,” said Rowe. “Their efforts ensured that Volkswagen was always a dominant player in the South African rally scene.”
“With the change in focus we have going into the future, our longstanding and highly successful relationship with Sasol and the Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000s ends out on the rally stages. The iconic blue and white livery will be long-remembered, along with the crews that piloted them. With every end, comes the chance for a new beginning, a new chapter to be written in the ongoing story that is motorsport in South Africa. We hope to continue further valuable partnerships with Sasol in our new projects and approach to motorsport in the future.”